Archive for June, 2009

The Boater
June 4, 2009

IMG_2556Boaters, also known as Sailors, are as dashing today as they were when first worn in the 18th century by British sailors.  They are sporty straw hats, usually with narrow crown and flat top and rigid round brim.  Though its dimensions and trimmings have varied with style trends, the Boater possesses an unmistakable appearance of fun and relaxation that is cemented in our subconscious due to its rages of popularity through time.


The Boater’s fun-loving attitude was first expressed in the 1880s by women who made them the hat of the decade due to their sporting image.  This was a time when women became active participants in sports such as bicycling.  They wore their light colored straws with a strip of dark trim above puffed sleeved white blouses, dark neckties and dark full skirts.


The Italian Gondoliers also adopted the Boater in the 1880s. The Gondoliers trimmed the crisp angles of straw braid with a long doppio natro, the natro usually in navy and red (stripe). This sleeker lined style, with a wider and shallower crown, adjusted the sporting theme of boating to also connote outdoor leisure activities, as a boat ride through Venice elegantly typifies.


Like spaghetti, the Boater came to America by way of immigrants.  So great and prolonged was its public appeal that it was given the name “the hat of the people”. Its influence spanned social spheres.  It was a favorite for vaudeville entertainers and their fans. During pre-war times, the Boater was thought to be worn by some FBI agents as a sort of unofficial designation. The hat’s popularity with Classic Hollywood and the American image can be seen in its namesake comedy, “The Italian Straw Hat” (1927).  For decades on, Hollywood stars like Gene Kelly and Fred Astaire further popularized the Boater with American audiences, wearing these dapper hats while wowing audiences with their wit and dance.


The Boater’s image undoubtedly maintains strongest associations with gaiety, boats and outdoor leisure.  Its attitude is seen clearly in the lighthearted 1950’s when its popularity was so widespread that it was worn by all.


Wear your inner Boater this summer.  Or transform yourself from the inside out with one of the new mini-boaters at