It's our biggest day of the year — National Hat Day! In addition to our limited edition buttons for customers and National Hat Day outfit contests happening on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram (get the deets for both before the day ends!), we'd like to share with you 10 of our favorite, unknown, weird and surprising hat facts to commemorate our favorite accessory of choice, ever.
1. The "you lose most of your body heat through your head" is a myth. The heat from your head is proportionate to the heat from the rest of your body. However, just like bundling up in warm scarves and a jacket during winter, when it's cold outside wearing a hat keeps in more heat as opposed to not wearing a hat. Stating the obvious — and why wouldn't you want to wear a hat anyway?
2. The phrase "Mad as a hatter" originates from 18th and 19th century England when hat makers were exposed to toxic chemicals. Mercury was used to produce felt, a popular material for hats, which had side effects of dementia.
3. Straw Panama hats are actually made in Ecuador (but you already knew that). Canal workers were photographed wearing imported straw hats while constructing the Panama Canal, and Americans mistakenly thought they were wearing locally made hats. President Theodore Roosevelt was also photographed visiting the Panama Canal site wearing a Panama hat, further increasing the hats popularity and solidifying the not-so-correct name, Panama.
4. The first time a top hat was worn in public, a near riot ensued and the wearer was charged for breach of peace. We talked about this in an earlier post on The History of the Top Hat, but, well, the story is so surprising that it’s worth another mention. "Controversy" was so different in the 18th century.
5. Speaking of top hats, baseball umpires in the mid-19th century used to wear top hats and tailcoats. Fancy.
6. Chef hats have pleats that each signify the way an egg can be prepared. At one time, a chef had up to 100 pleats in his hat, representing his skill set of 100 different ways he could prepare an egg. Today, chef hats have fewer pleats, but some hats still use the number of pleats to represent the chef's level of experience.
7. Beavers almost went extinct in the mid-19th century because their pelts were so popularly used for hats. Thankfully, the popularity for beaver pelts declined once silk worms were introduced and silk hats entered the scene.
8. The first person to pull a rabbit out of a hat was French magician Louis Comte in 1814. He pulled the rabbit out from a top hat, over a decade after the shape made its debut in 1797.
9. British hat designer Philip Treacy's first clientele was his sister's dolls. Today, Treacy is famous for his extravagant designs and a clientele that includes the Royal family, Alexander McQueen and Lady GaGa.
10. The word "fedora" comes from the title of an 1882 play by Victorien Sardou called Fédora. The hat was first worn by the play's actress, Sarah Bernhardt, who played Princess Fédora.