Why the fedora grosses out geekdom

The fedora draws increasing controversy in internet circles. In just one hour I found no less than three Tumblrs related to shaming people who wear the creased, curve-brimmed hat—formal with a touch of classic dandy—and the censure is interestingly specific. The targets are usually men.

The fedora draws increasing controversy in internet circles. In just one hour I found no less than three Tumblrs related to shaming people who wear the creased, curve-brimmed hat—formal with a touch of classic dandy—and the censure is interestingly specific.

The targets are usually men. Nerdy men.

Although one of the sites, You Shouldn’t Wear That Fedora, chides the fashion-oops on men and women alike, the relatively-new Fedoras of OKC (where “OKC” means popular, endearingly-awkward dating site OK Cupid) focuses strictly on geeks who’ve made the choice to crown their search for love with the offending hat. Usually the humor derives from a presumptive consensus: that the fedora-wearers think they look much more suave than they do. Profile snippets, presented out of context, are often caption enough.

Fedoras of OKC doesn’t strictly limit its lambaste to the dapper caps. Once-weekly, it offers Top Hat Tuesday, when it’s time to pick on fans of the geeky “steampunk” trend, like this cog-topped gentleman who lists Japanese cartoons and comics alongside his predilection for dominance sex play. It’s such specific nerd-bullying that one starts to wonder: Is there some kind of correlation between earnest, romantic-if-awkward geeks and a blind faith in the appeal of classical hats?

A third Tumblr, Forever Alone Fedoras, correlates the hat fetish with the “Forever Alone” internet meme, born for high-volume forum users to tease one another about how their preference for online socialization and dorky interests will mean they might never find love.

This meme has an extra layer of mean. It's supposed to be "funny" that online geeks are even trying. In one incident, a flash mob was staged, using fake OKCupid profiles, to humiliate those who turned up. The explosive Cheezburger network is on top of the trend: its Meme Dates site relies on the pairing of sincere romantic hopefuls—fedora optional—with internet idiosyncrasies to humorous effect.

The concept of awkward men seeking online love appears to create a resentment issue for the women who end up fielding that search. Like Fedoras of OKC, Forever Alone Fedoras is apparently run by a woman fed up with the relative frequency of messages on dating sites from men wearing “these horrible hats that are an instant deal-breaker.”

Says Forever Alone Fedoras: “a fedora speaks volumes about one’s character. It implies that he is a basement dwelling, live action role playing, no social skills having, complete and utter geek in the worst sense of the word.”

Harsh.

So, some of these guys are a little awkward. But what's with the virulent derision? Especially since these Tumblrs and Fedora-memes tend to take a knowing tone, curated by people who come from the same world as the people they're mocking.

Just a glance at Forever Alone Fedoras, for example, generally requires you know what a Brony is, or at least net-literate enough to know what “duckface” means, to get the jokes. Why hate on your own kind? Hasn’t everyone been picked on enough? Shouldn’t geeks unite?

Well, yes, but that was before a great war in geek culture began. The internet has long been famously hostile to women: well past the turn of the millennium, an entire genre of online humor relied on the idea that there were no females on the internet.

Type “there are no women” into Google and see the results. Many of Google’s suggestions relate to baseline geek culture stuff, presumed to be closely associated with the average geek’s online experience. Like the internet, comic books, video games and lore-packed science fiction/fantasy also have a spotty record when it comes to being safe, or welcoming, for female participants.

Now, though, with the rise of social media, women are losing their fear of being shamed or shouted out of participating in arenas once seen as boys’ clubs. The rise of women on the internet coincides with the rise of women in just about everything, as an election year that has politicized birth control and motherhood (and made headlines out of gross misconceptions about rape) encourages more women to speak up about their experiences and claim their right to social equality.

Geeky girls need to fight. When, in the year 2012, even the New York Times publishes an article about harassment in gaming culture, you know you’ve got a problem – just as fans of other nerdy things often experience similar social dynamics to gamers.

One part of this battle, however, is not about facing down direct aggression or exclusion. It's a quieter fight against “nice guys”—gentlemen who are trying really hard, but who feel entitled to appreciation and attention because they've met a basic standard of human decency.

From them, one finds no overt verbal abuse or leering hostility. Instead, interests are found such as pickup-artist forums and other venues offering advice on talking to girls or support for dealing with unrequited crushes—the raw material for all those Forever Alone jokes.

Being nice is a desirable trait. However, thoughts that begin with “I’m nice, therefore you should...” are creepy for reasons that should be obvious. Just look at this XKCD comic, or this advice column, or this.

Inside the “nice guy” complex seethes a passive-aggressive fear of the so-called “friend zone.” It’s such a prevalent concept in internet culture that yes, there’s a (mean) meme for that. There’s even a bizarre Kickstarter up right now for “friend zone t-shirts,” and it’s hard to tell who exactly should wear them. Feel unlucky in love? Why not let everyone know! The creator says the shirts will take a “stand” against the issue, but a logical throughline for that thought remains evasive. Take a stand against who?

The undertone of entitlement inherent in the “nice guy” concept scares women who want to go online or attend conventions without all the uncomfortable pickup lines. Women hope to make geeky friends without fearing to hear, one day, the phrase “remember how you said I was such a great friend?”

Friend zone. Forever alone. And here we return to the fedora.

The problem is that the fedora has become a go-to accessory for a peculiar subculture of love-entitled male nerds whose social inexperience and awkwardness manifests in a world rocked by a gender revolution—a tectonic shift in the makeup of formerly cloistered, rule-bound clubs. They aren't bad people – they simply need a place from which to draw a sense of manhood, if not from women. When deciding how to represent themselves in a dating profile, why wouldn’t they cling to a fashion emblem from a bygone age, a time when guy was just a guy and a doll was just a doll? A fashion which recalls Frank Sinatra and Al Capone, a conventional masculinity marked by elegant detachment and an appeal to women that remains decidedly independent of their approval?

The fact that so many consider the fedora a personal “signature” item, added to Twitter avatars and self-portraits on DeviantArt alike, lend credence to this idea. Ben “Yahtzee” Croshaw, a game reviewer at The Escapist popular for his snarky humor and penchant for going against the grain used the trilby as something of a logo: a sharp-brimmed hat suggests a sharp wit, a certain whimsy and mystery.

But we geeks are late to the fedora party. The hat, often in plaid, made the same rounds through “bro” culture already, popping up on viewers of Jersey Shore and Entourage. Also, Jason Mraz wears one.

Conscious of culture and history as we are, we yearn for a touch of class. But when women online who’re fed up with online harassment and nice guy entitlement see an eager young man trying his best to strike a smooth pose under that infernal hat—pinching the brim, faux-brooding finger to chin and crooked smirk—we just see chasing ass. It’s become too intentional, too choreographed, too staged. It seems to hide something. It suggests inner conflict.

The person who started Fedoras of OKC goes by “misandristcutie” on Twitter, a good-humored dig at men who cry "misandry" in any gender conflict, pointing to some imaginary universe of female privilege so feared as to justify their sexist behavior.

Even if you disagree with the hypothesis linking the forever-alone fedora and the friend-zoned nice guy, you can at least see why it explains the high volume of mockery aimed at the hat—and why some defend it in militant tones usually reserved for explaining the right to make rape jokes.

There’s one more interesting tidbit. According to the Encyclopædia Britannica, “fedora” came into parlance when Sarah Bernhardt played the title character in Fédora, an 1882 play by Victorien Sardou. That sort of felt hat was a women’s fashion item, and did not become popular among men until the late 19th century.

Funny—a hat emblematic of privilege-denial in geekdom wasn't even cut for dudes.

Published 10:07 am Tue, Oct 2, 2012

About the Author

Leigh Alexander, Gamasutra editor-at-large, Kotaku and EDGE mag columnist, and NYLON Guys games editor, is on Twitter.

297 Responses to “Why the fedora grosses out geekdom”

  1. Sorry, everyone, but the Tumblr Star fedora is photoshopped. But if there is sufficient demand, I will call my man in Shenzhen and initiate the Kickstarter.

  2. aj says:

    I’m sorry, but this post made no sense.  Wear a fedora or don’t?  Why not just make your own fashion choices and not worry what the haters on OK Cupid (or in Oklahoma City, for that matter) want to do about it?

    • CH says:

      Yeah, I’m a woman and a geek… and this article made no sense what so ever.

      Part of me being a geek is about not caring an effing eff what others think of me or how I dress, I wear proudly what I want to wear. And I don’t care what you wear… well, preferably put some clothes on. So why would a geek care what another geek wears, especially if it is a hat??? Something about a pot calling out kettle about something.

      • CH says:

        Oh, and I think hats on men look nice, especially Fedora type hats.

        • Cowicide says:

          Oh, and I think hats on men look nice, especially Fedora type hats.

          Well, well, well…

        • Rob Gehrke says:

          “And I don’t care what you wear… well, preferably put some clothes on. So why would a geek care what another geek wears, especially if it is a hat???”
          * puts knife away *

          “Oh, and I think hats on men look nice, especially Fedora type hats.”
          * takes knife back out *

        • Fedora-wearing guy #2 in the article is particularly cute.

      • Tavie says:

        Part of me being a geek is about not caring an effing eff what others think of me or how I dress, I wear proudly what I want to wear.

        Wait, no, isn’t that part of being a hipster? Don’t lots of geeks generally care what others think, and are angsty about it and stuff?

        I can’t keep these subcultures straight. I think “geek” has lost all meaning.

        • anansi133 says:

           Used to be, a large number of people (“us”) felt immune to whatever the overwhelming majority (“them”) thought about anything. But now that the internet is helping “us” find each other in increasing numbers, it’s harder and harder to decide who to ignore.

          This is actually a wonderful problem to have, but it makes for some weird out-groups. If I actually owned a fedora, or if I had a problem being just friends with a woman, I might be inclined to get a different picture for my profile. I guess I can endure being called a hipster for ignoring this latest trend.

        • CH says:

          Huh? I’m assuming you are at least semi serious. I have no idea hipsters think as I don’t identify as one, but I’m sure somebody who is a hipster can pipe up.

          But as a geek? Not caring about what others think is mainly a survival strategy. I think most reach at some point the “eff it” stage and stop trying to conform and just go with whatever makes themselves happy. That’s why I find the notion that “geeks” are ridiculing other geeks on how they dress incredibly offensive.

          • Syndaryl says:

            Exactly.

            It’s either “Eff it” (and thus you get a fringe blend between geeks and other colourful subcultures like punks, goths, cosplay in general, etc.) or constant psychological stress as someone who is stereotypically really bad at “social stuff” and obsessed with The Rules is consumed by worry about whether they’re Doing It Wrong Again.

            I had my Eff It moment in highschool. It’s a wonderful feeling when you realize that people who make you feel like crap are pretty crappy people, so their opinions aren’t even worth crap. Of course, I was so depressed at that point it was basically the Hyperbole and a Half “I’m so burned out I’m immune to your opinions” moment.

        • TWX says:

           Hipsters *do* care about what others think.  They want others to not like it.  What they always neglect to remember is that every counter-culture becomes a culture in of itself.

          I wear a Fedora or similar wide-brimmed hat every day.  I do it because I don’t want skin cancer on my head.  I’m comfortable for long periods of time in the sun and heat when the sun isn’t baking my brains out.

      • Dr. NerdLove says:

        It’s a case of the fedora (or Trilby, honestly) becoming a symbol of Forever Alone-esque geeks because of how often geeks try to sport a dapper hat. 

        Kinda like how Burberry became a symbol for chavs in the UK and Ed Hardy is how nature says “do not touch”.

        • Antinous / Moderator says:

          Kinda like how Burberry became a symbol for chavs in the UK and Ed Hardy is how nature says “do not touch”.

          And Members Only says, “only behind a dumpster, use two condoms and take the secret to your grave.”

    • -DP- says:

      You said it.

      Based on this article, I guess EVERYBODY has to wear a baseball cap, instead, or they’re signaling that they are lonely creeps?

    • Antinous / Moderator says:

      You pop your collar, don’t you?

  3. Brainspore says:

    I didn’t start wearing a fedora with any regularity until I was already married, and most of the time I only wear it when it’s sunny and I feel like shading my face and neck.

    • jorgenfleisterman says:

      Yeah, I expressed interest in a fedora to my wife but thought I couldn’t pull it off. She insisted I get one because she likes it and now wonders why I don’t wear it often enough.

      Does this mean you can pull off the fedora when you’re no longer in danger of the friend zone?

      • Dlo Burns says:

        You wife wants you to wear it to ward off other women.

        • Funk Daddy says:

          … you raise an intriguing possibility*

          *reminds self to ask at dinner the number of meanings of wife’s hat appreciation/enabling in self

        • Gyrofrog says:

          That’s hilarious… my wife, though, insists that fedoræ may only (at least, sensibly) be worn by men over the age of 50 (she used to say 40, until I actually passed that goalpost).  She feels this way about hats in general, though now I have what I gather is called a “newsboy cap.”  My assumption, for about 30 or 31 years now, is that I look fairly dorky, in spite of my efforts toward the contrary.  Regardless, I’ve come this far.

          But there is a physical reason I don’t wear fedoræ and this is because of my large head.  I’m at least a size 8 and it’s very difficult to find a fedora that fits.

          Also, I do wear a beard and I think this greatly limits my choices of brimmed, felt hats.  If I put on a black hat, with my beard I look like Chasidim.  Of course there’s nothing wrong with that but I don’t want to make false representations either.

          I did have an off-white straw fedora (not a Panama hat; way cheaper) and this was an exceptional hat in that it fit well and didn’t look bad. Found it in St. Thomas and haven’t seen one exactly like it ever since. My niece (an adult who should know better and look where she’s going) sat on it when I left it in the back seat.  (She also spilled doro wat on the seat. Brand new car and everything. But that’s neither here not their nor there [good grief].)

          • Dlo Burns says:

            I’m a size 8 also. I used to have fine collection of large sized hats until my house burned down. Nothing pisses me off more than the phrase “one size fits all”. It’s just so disappointing to try to put on a snap-back and have the crown sit not just too small, but just wrong.

            /edit: you know what’s worse than being too fat for a roller-coaster? Having a head so big that you can’t put the harness down.

    • pjk says:

      Dad-alert.

      • Brainspore says:

        I got the hat about a year or two before I got the kids, but your guess is correct.

        I admit some part of my decision to wear said hat may have been influenced by seeing my grandfather lose chunks of his ears to skin cancer. That’s an even harder look to pull off than a fedora.

  4. My problem with fedoras (on my own head, not on anybody else’s) is that a swanky hat requires equally swanky other clothes, and in a fight between dressing correctly to pull off a hat and going hatless but getting to wear flannel shirts and jeans, well. As a person who came of-age in the 90′s, flannel is a hard habit to break.

    Fedoras are awesome. Fedoras and jeans and t-shirts are just badly considered.

  5. capnmarrrrk says:

    I understand where the hate is coming from, which based on the sites, is really more of a misuse of fedora wearing. Some of these guys are fashion disasters. Wrong place, wrong time, wrong clothes and poor photo choices. On some people, a fedora just looks wrong. Maybe the the face needs to age up a little. I blame Ralph Macchio for that: http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-eTWhpHtsTi8/Taunr7m_NqI/AAAAAAAACtA/ybVeOZ2jRko/s1600/ralph-macchio-in-crossroads.jpg

    Other misuse of the fedora, as it bothers me, is the guy who is constantly wears the fedora, so that it becomes a part of his look. You never see him without it. Disclosure: this was once me. It’s no difference than “Baseball hat guy.” Women like to see your head/hair, and don’t necessarily want to get poked on the bridge of the nose when you kiss. Though in some situations, she will snatch it off your head and wear it herself because it’s fun.

    The rule should be: 
    Occasional fedora: Yes, but only with the right clothes at the right time/place. 
    Full-time fedora: No.

    • Phoenix Lomax says:

      Exactly. Guys need to consider whether their hat matches anything else they’re wearing… fedoras don’t really go with flip-flops, for instance. And wearing it all the time? You’re not Indiana Jones.
      I wear hats with suits- hats that coordinate with my suits. I wear suits because I’m in an industry that values personal appearance, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, and I happen to enjoy hats on top of that. I don’t wear them because I think they make me suave or because I’m trying to signal some kind of entitlement (I’ve been married for four years)… I wear them because I like them.
      As far as the whole “friend-zone”/passive-aggressive entitlement/geek culture link goes… it’s really a stretch to say that every guy in a hat (or even most) is either a dudebro or a lonely geek. Some people wear hats because they wear hats… no ulterior motives, no sad demands for attention, no attempts to seem cooler than they are. I wear them because I like them, and happen to be able to pull them off. I daresay I’m not the only one, either.

      • CH says:

        I’m really trying hard to follow you, but… it just doesn’t parse.

        You say some clothes don’t go with other clothes? Sure, it might not be a good idea to, say, have a Star Wars shirt with a Star Trek insignia pinned on it, it might make some people you meet froth at their mouth. But if that’s what you want to wear, who am I to judge? (And now that I thought about it, I’m so going to do it next time I go out to a geek-fest… it’s going to be hilarious!!!) But the hat and flip-flop thingy… ???

        • ryuthrowsstuff says:

          I’ll draw issue with the hat and flip flop thingy simple because I burst into flame at the beach and look terrible in baseball hats. 

        • Phoenix Lomax says:

          I probably should’ve clarified that. I think it’s tacky for me to wear a fedora with flip-flops. I don’t run around shaming people who do, however- it’s up to them. From my own standpoint regarding my own dress, however, it’s a complete no-go.

        • oasisob1 says:

          And a sticker on your shirt that says ‘HELLO! My name is Jeffrey Sinclair’.

      • Donald Petersen says:

        Speaking of Indiana Jones… I almost never wore hats growing up simply because I have a comically large head, and very few hats fit me.  One hot sunshiny day at Disneyland my scalp was starting to sunburn, and I ducked into a hat shop in Adventureland to seek some shade.  They had a stack of Indiana Jones fedoras there, and one of them looked temptingly large.  I tried it on and sonofabitch, it fit!  I bought it and happily kept my head shady for the rest of the day.  A few months later, I happened to again be at Disneyland, this time on a particularly rainy day.  I hate getting rain on my glasses.  I’d left the felt fedora at home, but I thought I’d roll the dice and visit the Adventureland hat shop again, this time scoring a brown leather fedora that was almost my size.  I do have to stretch it over my knee before I wear it.

        Anyway, now I have two fedoras, one of which I only wear in the rain, the other I wear when I don’t want my scalp sunburned.  And they’re the only hats I’ve ever found (in a lifetime not spent actively looking for hats) that fit me, and for whatever reason, Disneyland became my go-to hat store.

        My high school in semirural San Diego County had a lot of ten-gallon-hat-wearing shitkicker students.  Kinda weird in that most of the surrounding high schools were filled with surfers, jocks, metalheads, preppies, skinny-tie New Wavers, and other denizens of the coastal 80s, but there they were: big belt buckles, boots, and a cheekful of Skoal when the vice principal wasn’t looking.  Their hats were as much an affectation as the metal-studded leather bracelets on the headbangers, since these cowboy kids were neither riding the range nor milking cows nor busting broncos all day long; they were stuck there in 9th grade Geography with the rest of us.  But nobody gave them much lip about their ridiculous hats.  After all, most of them were pretty big guys, and most of them did actually ride horses from time to time.  I have no idea if those hats helped or hindered their attempts to get laid.  I expect it depended on the audience.  My sister and her friends would mock those hats mercilessly when the dudes weren’t around, but then she was kinda into the whole modish Oingo Boingo/Cure/Depeche Mode thing.

        It was easy to dismiss the wearers of those hats as shitkickers, as I just did a minute ago.  But that’s wrong.  Some were excellent students.  Some were sensitive, even poetic gents.  I suspect one of them of enjoying Shakespeare much more than he ever let on.

        They’re just hats.  They’re the kind of hats that serve more of a purpose than mere head-shade.  They allow one to identify with a certain culture, and as far as that goes, you can pigeonhole (or not) based upon such things to your heart’s content.

        You just shouldn’t be too terribly surprised when you judge someone wrongly thereby.

        • welcomeabored says:

          ‘Their hats were as much an affectation as the leather studded metal bracelets on the headbangers, since these cowboys kids were neither riding the range nor milking the cows nor busting bronchos all day long…’

          They were all hat and no cattle?

          • Donald Petersen says:

            Most of the year.  But since many of them were involved in our school’s chapter of the FFA and took our school’s agriculture classes (truly unusual this close to La Jolla, I tellya), they’d occasionally raise a calf and sell it at the Del Mar Fair.  I remember hearing stories that the Ag teacher would demonstrate to the kids how to castrate a goat with his teeth.

            Hardcore, man.  Small wonder we didn’t dare mock their chapeaux.

        • CH says:

          What is it btw with hats being so small? I would love to have a nice wide brimmed straw summer hat, but they are all so darn small that there is absolutely no way they would fit my head. I guess I should just go find a modiste somewhere to make a hat for me… or make one myself… but why are all ready-to-wear hats so small???

        • penguinchris says:

          Out on the sort-of-pier with shops and restaurants next to the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach there’s a hat shop that sells rather large-size hats, including every variety of fedora you can imagine. This is their website: http://www.villagehatshop.com – they’re probably the best website to order hats from too, though figuring out your size if you’ve never tried on a hat that fit before is a little tricky.

          My head is big enough that 99% of off-the-rack hats at any regular store don’t fit, even if they have a size XL, but is not *ridiculously* big – it’s about 61 cm (which is something like a 7 3/4 hat size, not quite an 8).

          This store had hats that were way too large even for me. I suspect there are very few people who wouldn’t be able to find a hat there that fits correctly. They have the official Indiana Jones ones too, the same ones they have at Disneyland.

          I would like to note that while I do own two fedoras, I am not a fedora dude. I wear them when I’m at least 90% sure it’s appropriate with the rest of my outfit and the context only. For example, I have an Indiana Jones style one (I swapped out the leather band it had and made a grosgrain ribbon band like the one in the film) and I only wear that when I’m doing geology field work (and even then, only when it’s sunny). Proof it looks good in context: http://www.flickr.com/photos/penguinchris/3037601938/ – though I should have really worn a rolled-up long-sleeve shirt for that photo to look just right (which is what I do now).

          The other one is more of a trilby style and I have only worn it a couple of times, when I was going full-on dapper Mad Men style in fall in NYC with my tailored clothes and trench coat for an event at the Princeton Club.

          p.s. Donald I’ve been in CA for a while and have your Godzilla figures, but I haven’t been up your way yet – planning on combining the trip when there’s something else in LA I want to do – definitely soon though :)

    • Funk Daddy says:

      Situation: Pokes her on the bridge of her nose with hat brim when kiss.

      Most Likely Problem: Hat too low in front.

      Solution: Wear hat higher in front, push hat back before kiss when hat is low to shade eyes in darkling hours. Pushing hat back while leaning to kiss also looks suave.

      Less likely Problem: Kissing a horse.

      Solution: Pat it on the neck and give it an apple instead, it will like you more for that.

    • We’re geeks. We’re fashion disasters. We always have been and always will be. Why the hell do people feel privileged to trample the last freaking place in our society where people don’t harp on you for wearing white after Labor Day, or whatever inane exclusionary thing the primates are gibbering about this week?

      Thanks, but I’m gonna keep dressing however the hell I want. If it comes down to hewing to my own self-image and having freedom to tinker with my own identity — and yes, maybe even fail and, god help you poor babies, look less than ideal in your presence once in a while, I’ll take that over the awful consequences of you thinking I’m “doing it wrong.” Frankly, I have come to like dressing “wrong”, because it’s a fantastic social filter.

      Wear what you like, people. It is not your responsibility to coddle other people’s sensibilities.

      • CH says:

        *Standing ovation* Bravo!!!

      • capnmarrrrk says:

        I can and do empathize with this sentiment (having been a Deadhead and resident of Black Rock City), but like any good Website or piece of art, there are rules of design. People tend to be more attracted to harmony and balance, as opposed to dissonance. Generally, depending on context, e.g. “harmony” is not a key word at Burning Man. But, in the rest of Mundania, you have to deal with other people, especially if you want to date. You aren’t likely to visit a website with a shitty interface…your clothes are interface between you and the world.

        That said, if I’m going out to a social event, my wife gets final approval because she wants me to look good, and sometimes that involves wearing a fedora.

        • CH says:

          “you have to deal with other people, especially if you want to date”
          But do you really want to hide the true you for the rest of your life? Potentially marry somebody who doesn’t like you for who you are. Sure, you can conform… but…

          I married a geek. I work where geeks are more than welcome. I have geek friends. I’m happy! And I think Mundania can shove it.

    • surreality says:

       An ex of mine: “They wouldn’t let me wear in the driver’s license photo. They should have, it’s not like they’re going to see me without it.”

      Yeah, that was a short-lived relationship. I’d guess the annoyance has more to do with that kind of attitude than anything else, although it could arguably go with any hat. I mock fedoras a little because of this previous experience, but a whole movement against them is just silly.

    • devophill says:

       You think of Ralph Macchio, I think of Joey Jeremiah.

      http://i.imgur.com/0uw4I.jpg

      • penguinchris says:

        He pulled it off though. IIRC there was an episode of the modern Degrassi (the original show’s actors reprise their roles to play many of the adult characters in the new version) where Joey Jeremiah (who is now a used car salesman, and bald) was asked about the hat by one of his old friends and he said at one point he threw it away or vowed to never wear it again or something. I thought it was pretty funny but also actually insightful and relevant to this discussion – he basically wore the look out even though it actually looked good on him. He grew out of it. Most modern geeks who wear them need to grow out of it too.

        (to clarify: ex-girlfriend in college watched the new show. I actually quite liked the original series, and the first few seasons anyway of the new series are excellent for a show aimed at teens and kids)

  6. Jack says:

    Most of those are homburgs, not fedoras.

    • Vinnie Tesla says:

       Jack, you are a pompous bastard.

    • Rah El says:

      Yeah. And i think I saw at least one Trilby.

    • Churba S says:

      Nah, I’d say there are two Fedoras there, and the rest are Trillbys. The gutter dent isn’t pronounced enough to be a Homburg.

      Also, that’s something that annoys the shit out of me, more than people wearing Fedoras badly – It seems that I’m one of the few internet users in the world that knows the difference between a trilby and a Fedora.

      Basically, if it’s got a broad brim, with a slight turn, it’s a fedora – like the second and last photos in the article. The Trillby has a shorter brim, with a much sharper turn up at the back.

      Or, in other words – Indiana Jones wears a Fedora. Geeks with poorly-worn hats are normally wearing Trillbys.

      And no, they’re not interchangeable – All Trillbys are fedoras, but not all fedoras are Trillbys. It’s much the same as if someone asked you “What kind of car do you drive?” and you answered with a cheerful “Car!” – it is technically true, but also not at all informative, and makes people question your mental competency.

      • Funk Daddy says:

        “Sedan!” because while all sedans are cars not all cars are sedans, whereas all cars are cars.

        • L_Mariachi says:

          Not all sedans are cars.

        • Churba S says:

           All cars are cars, yes, but that is assumed within the question, which is “What kind of car do you drive?” – requesting the specifics of said car, for example, “I drive a ford”, or “I drive a Datsun 120Y.”

          • retepslluerb says:

            I wonder in which way “ford” is more specific.  And why that sick fetish is socially acceptable.

          • Churba S says:

            Eh, I figure it narrows it down. It’s not an uncommon response from my friends who don’t know much about cars, and also, where I come from, there are plenty of situations where “What kind of car do you drive?’ directly translates to “Do you drive a Holden, or a Ford?”

      • retrojoe says:

        All trilbys are NOT fedoras. “Fedora” should not be used as a catch all for brimmed hats (slouch hat comes closest, but even that is not correct).

        This is akin to calling station wagons “sedans”; they simply aren’t.

        • Churba S says:

          No, Fedora is a generic term, a style rather than a type, a descriptor for any men’s hat that doesn’t already have a name, though your generic fedora will have a few common traits, like the broader brim with the slight turn down at the front and up at the back – but it’s not a nessessity. A Homberg is/was a type of Fedora too, apart from the having a name bit – don’t look at me, I didn’t decide that. And Slouch hats were never fedoras, as they existed before Fedoras did, and were named before Fedora became a generic term, and well before there was any style of hat called a Fedora.

          You are TECHNICALLY correct, it shouldn’t be used as a catch all for brimmed hats – because brimmed hats with names should be called by their name, not called Fedoras.

          Seriously, name me the defining traits of the fedora. Is it the crown? Well, no, because a fedora can have a teardrop crown, a gutter crown, dented, diamond, pretty much any sort of crown. The brim isn’t a help, either, since it can be of many lengths and styles, presuming that the styling of the brim doesn’t put it in the category of another hat, like the Homberg or Trillby. Bound with a band or ribbon? Not necessarily. Without defining traits, like the homburg’s upturned sides and gutter crown, or the trilby’s short, sharply turned brim and often shorter crown, it can’t be a distinct type of hat.

          Here’s something that will blow your mind – You know that hat that Jughead Jones wears, the crown-looking thing? That’s a Fedora, just with the brim pinned up and cut jagged. No joke, back in the days when Archie comics were created, some people wore their hats in that style. I think some dude on the Andy Griffith show wore one too, but old American pop culture isn’t really my forte.

          Also, we’re using one of the greatest technologies invented by humankind, to which we are connected by extraordinarily complex electronic devices, to argue about hats. The world really is a strange place, sometimes.

      • allotrope says:

        Good point, one of the main things I dislike about the trilby is that it looks too small, giving off a faintly ridiculous air as it sits precariously perched on top of the head. Not to mention the vast majority look really cheaply made, like disposable novelty gear you’d buy for/at some event. As such I have a hard time viewing it as stylish. A wider brim would already make a major difference.

        • Churba S says:

           True, true. Admittedly, one can wear one with style, but it’s not something that is stylish on it’s own, it’s all about combination and situation. Along with – like any other fashion item – a dash of confidence and knowing how to dress yourself appropriately, hats don’t suit everyone, and not everyone suits every hat.

          Look at some old photos, people like Bogart and the Rat Pack – they wore fedoras very well. Connery and Lazenby, as Bond, Were seen with trillbys, and they certainly didn’t look goofy or silly, they look pretty damned stylin’.

    • Vinnie Tesla says:

       Having had a rude remark removed here, I want to note, for the record, that Jack and I are Internet Acquaintances, and the comment was meant (and I think taken) in a teasing spirit, as is underscored by the fact that I “liked” the above remark before posting my response.

      Bluh.

  7. Talia says:

    And I would have guessed that the backlash against fedoras is more because it looks vaguely hipsterish, and hating all things hipster is “in style” these days.

    I personally like a man in a fedora.

  8. scruss says:

    Fedoras have a /very /special meaning on MetaFilter: http://mssv.net/wiki/index.php/Fedora

  9. Peter Kisner says:

    Also lends another layer of meaning to the Paper Bag video.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BK30r_SIZ-g

  10. Is there some kind of correlation between earnest, romantic-if-awkward geeks and a blind faith in the appeal of classical hats?

    Having traveled far and wide in Geek circles of various claves and subsets, I’ve found it’s easy to pick out the dudes who are most desperately romantic/socially awkward: look for a fedora. It’s a signifier of great heft and weight, and though I haven’t done enough field research for it to be conclusive, I suspect the fault lies with the 4th Doctor. He is the role model for many earnest, romantic-if-awkward geeks who fancy that if they can just look a little like Tom Baker, they’ll find their Romana.

  11. welcomeabored says:

    At first glance, I would assume a man who wears a fedora has his own sense of style and a good sense of humor, and if I had to chose one, I’d prefer a guy who can make me laugh.

  12. David Levy says:

    “hipsters” usually wear trilbies, not fedoras.  As a man who wears hats, I admit to a dislike of trilbies, in part because of the association.

  13. big ryan says:

    i knew that fedoras were doomed a few years ago when i saw a sales display for them at a guitar center, never, NEVER, NEVER EVER BUY CLOTHES THAT THEY SELL AT MUSIC STORES!!! this is the rule that keeps our society afloat

  14. lightrail says:

    Can you imagine having a life so empty that you actually care what kind of hat someone chooses to wear?

    • pitkataistelu says:

      Clearly that should be a single tag “<shudder />”.

    • Phoenix Lomax says:

      And the time to trawl the internet looking specifically for people to mock? Imagine the hollowness of an existence like that.

      • Gyrofrog says:

        This raises an interesting point.  The post is about people who do just that, but along with it, shows the pictures (and links to more pictures) of those being mocked.  It might not have gone over so well if the post had been something like “just look at these people in their fedoras” (fedoræ?) rather than “just look at these people mocking people who wear fedoras.” Having one’s cake and eating it too.

  15. Funk Daddy says:

    Hats of any kind cept baseball caps and touks offer the wearer and the observer opportunities for insight. 

    Does the wearer doff his hat appropriately? 

    Remove it indoors? 

    Sized properly for comfort, fit and to avoid hairtastrophies? 

    Hair kempt and clean so that a simple wave of the fingers or a comb removes all signs of hat when doffed?

    Hat blocked and lint free? Brushed? No grease band inside the rim?

    If the wearer manages all that, then it is a hat and not a fashion affectation, or it is at least both. Nothing wrong with wearing it exclusively for fashion, but do it as well as you can.

    I’ve known some seriously superb people who also wear hats, including fedoras, doubt any of them would give the poor haters a glance askance.

    Personally I prefer a Porkpie hat in subdued tones. It is not necessary to match your hat colour to your suit or coat, though if you can it is a-okay.

    • dragonfrog says:

      I think your analysis really does apply to toques and baseball caps too – leaving your cap or toque on indoors (assuming the indoor space is not very cold) is just as bad as leaving on a trilby or bowler or fedora.  The same standards go for cleanliness, etc.

      Doffing those hats you could probably grant a pass on – they are generally worn tight enough that the operation would be awkward, particularly if a cold-weather toque is worn with cold-weather gloves.

      The fact that a greater proportion of cap and toque wearers fail the test, doesn’t invalidate the test itself.

  16. Pag says:

    This is just the good old fashion police at work, insisting that everybody must conform to the one true fashion style and that everybody else is an abomination that must be shunned.

  17. Ben Esposito says:

    great post. tip for commenters: if you feel the need to justify wearing a fedora, this article is probably about you.

    • Phoenix Lomax says:

      Or maybe it has more to do with people being tired of those who assume they know all about the motives and personality of people they’ve never met and still somehow feel qualified to make snap judgments about them as humans based on a very superficial aspect of their attire and its “deeper meaning”. Individual choices and motives be damned, basically.

    • EvilTerran says:

      Guilt by association!

      Stay classy.

    • Nope, but thank you for the scummy “do you still beat your wife”-style cheap shot. I’ve never worn a hat in my life, thanks. I am not even hat-curious. :p I am actually capable of taking umbrage against somebody else’s shallow exclusionary behavior without being a target of their specific criticism.

      Listen, while I have your attention… Nobody would feel the need to “justify” wearing a fedora if people didn’t consider it their business to dictate rules for how other people dress, as if the whole world were a gallery here for their amusement. I own my body. It’s not there for your approval. You’re not the landlord or my housing association. I’m not obliged to keep it to specs for you.

      And if you must know, there is a reason I’m uptight about the “right to appear how you like” issue: I’m transgender. When I finally get up the nerve to transition, I will inevitably commit all sorts of fashion “disasters” because I will be starting over from scratch. And it’s the opprobrium, well-meaning candor, and self-righteous snobbery people attach to other people’s fashion that makes it difficult to the point of tears to start being who I want, and may very well need, to be. Even trying to make it as a male, I am just not good at navigating the esoteric maze of fashion rules — and I suspect that difficulty is not real uncommon in the BB crowd.

      So, you know, what the fuck, dude. :(

      • Ben Esposito says:

        Sorry about my post, it was misguided for sure.

      • Amanda Lord says:

        Hey, my brother is FTM & I’ve had a few other friends & friends of friends who’ve transitioned one way or the other or are genderfluid.  And I think you raise a point that’s not often considered.  My brother wears ties and button-down shirts more often than most men I know.  He also loves hats (from baseball caps to tweed flat caps to… whatever).  He happens to make both look good, in my opinion.

        We’ve reached the point in society where our everyday wear for women is gender-neutral OR fem. I can (as a cis-het-woman) wear skirts or jeans and a tee-shirt without anyone batting an eye.  (If they do, it’s because I’m a “fashion disaster” not because “women don’t wear that.”)  Traditionally women’s clothing has not become gender-neutral for the most part.  And most average menswear doesn’t strive to be fashion, until you get to more formal stuff.  And we live in a world where cleanly passing as male or female is still very important.  As a cis-woman, I can get away with wearing something that comes off as “neutral,” as long as I still read as female.  A man wearing something fem, would get harassed for it.  Seeming like you’re trying to pass (and not succeeding) can get you harassed or killed.  

        So for a (cis or trans) man (or genderfluid individual) to create fashion identity that is distinctly masculine, it’s natural to reach for the few things that are still associated with masculinity, either because they’ve fallen out of general fashion (hats) or because they’re still associated that way (suits and ties).  Or, in the case of a cis-male friend with really odd taste — straw fedora & hawaiian shirts.  And there are a myriad of reasons to want to do so. 

        We treat fashion like it’s a “women’s” thing.  Or women and gay men.  Because it’s okay for gay men to be a little fem.  But all of this bashing of the fedora bothers me in part because of these gender issues.  Even as a fedora is a male fashion, because it’s no longer standard fashion, it falls under an individual choosing an interest in style/fashion.  And somehow straight men “aren’t supposed to” be interested in that.  If they want to look good, they’re supposed to ask their girlfriend or wife or female friend to help, because clearly men “can’t” do such a thing on their own.  And I have no problem with men who aren’t interested in style and fashion.  Just as I have no problem with women who have no interest in it.  (Day-to-day, I’m usually one of them.  Until I feel like “presenting” in a particular way.)

        • Antinous / Moderator says:

          Because it’s okay for gay men to be a little fem.

          I can’t say that I’ve observed that since c. 1975.

  18. mmrtnt says:

     Well, at least they’re less goofy-looking than cowboy hats.

    Am I glad that’s over.  The only way to not look like a buffoon in a cowboy hat in the 21st century is to be, you know, working out in the sun or rain. That’s the only time they make any kind of sense, fashion included.

    That said, here’s my take on the fedora, or homburg, as the case may be.

    • Brainspore says:

      Well, at least they’re less goofy-looking than cowboy hats.

      My two-year-old daughter has recently taken to snatching the fedora off my head and waving it in the air while yelling “yee haw, cowboy!”

  19. John Aguirre says:

    The assumption seems to be that any man wearing a Fedora must be straight and in want of some ass. I’m bi, in a stable 8-year relationship, and wore a Fedora exactly once about a month ago, because my significant other said it looked good on me.  I disliked the itchiness and have not worn it since, but would do so again with the appropriate outfit in cool weather.

    So, the question is: am I deserving of vitriolic internet derision? 

    Who are these people so set up blogs specifically to ridicule people who they have never met and who they know absolutely zero about?

  20. Daemonworks says:

    Geeks wearing fedoras? That’s new. Doesn’t seem to have penetrated my neck of the woods at all, or even my corner of the internet – at least not noticeably enough to register as being a thing.

    I’ll stick to my bowler.

  21. Charlie B says:

    I prefer a Stetson, but then I also sport a mullet. 

    • ryuthrowsstuff says:

      Stetson is a brand of hat not really a style, they’re most famous for cowboy hats, but nearly as famous for fedoras and trilbys. So its a bit like saying “I prefer a dodge” after I said I like muscle cars.

      • Charlie B says:

        Well I prefer the hats Stetson makes, and the hats that look like the hats Stetson makes, over the styles  shown in the pictures above, regardless of what you may choose to call them.

        I also like oilcloth deacon hats, but I have only once found one to fit me, and I wore it out.  I also have been known to wear straw boaters.

        It’s all about function.  Stetson makes a hat you can work in despite rain, snow or burning sun.

        You are free to prefer Pontiacs.

      • Donald Petersen says:

        Hmm.  I’m trying to think of the last time someone mentioned anything about a man in a Stetson, and they were referring to a guy in a trilby.

        Nike makes all kinds of athletic wear.  “That kid in the Nikes” isn’t really calling one’s attention to his pants.

  22. Dlo Burns says:

    I had a discussion about this with a friend, and we came to the conclusion that when an expensive and/or high fashion trend (for men usually) becomes available at walmart it becomes ‘ruined’ not because it becomes available to the masses, it becomes ‘ruined’ because any old clueless dick will pick it up and run it into the ground with out care to the ‘rules’ established at it’s creation.

    • Argh. Satan, get thee behind me. I thought I’d signed on with the Happy Mutants to get away from the arbitrary social rules of the “cool kids.”

      I guess this is where the cool kids hang out now, which means I need to get my fat ass back to the nearest big box store and resume doing it wrong.

      • gehringer says:

        The problem is that an annoyingly large number of geeks don’t actually hate the idea of cliques.  They just want to be on the other side of it, so they can exclude people and be dicks.

      • They’re not arbitrary social rules, they’re rules based on the aesthetics of how things look. Don’t wear purple with green for example. It looks bad. Now rules are made to be broken and I’m sure we could find lots of people who pull off purple and green in the same outfit, but generally it looks awful. If you want to look awful that’s fine, but be aware that that’s the decision you’re making, and that it’s not just you rebelling against some rules the ‘cool kids’ (jeez, persecution complex much?) have made up.

        • I’m aware of the idea of complementary colors, thanks. I dated an artist for five years, for chrissake. 

          You’re totally failing to address the social aspect of what precise rights “looking awful” gives you or others to behave in a rude fashion towards them. Even if the combination of, say, two clashing colors offends your sensibilities in some manner, the offense is still very subjective and the response is still socially constructed. The very notion that wearing two clashing colors — or “looking bad” at all — is opprobrious to the point of deserving mockery is what I’m trying to attack. 

          So yes, I have a persecution complex about people being attacked for what they’re wearing. Why? Because I’ve had some very dear friends attacked for what they were wearing. Reality matching up to your fears will give you issues that way. 

          But the bit about the “cool kids” was just an attempt at playful sarcasm. I like sarcasm. Example: “Thank you so much for having given me the benefit of the doubt, Thomas.”

    • vonbobo says:

      I’ve had the same conclusion too! I patiently wait for my most detested fashion items to reach walmart, knowing that once everyone has it, then people will be less likely to buy it anymore. 

      The odd thing about fashion is that it is used to fit in and be recognized, but if everyone is doing it then it becomes taboo.

      (currently waiting on cowboy boots worn with shorts to die off, the boot-sandal-heels monstrosity, and for the love of the world please stop buying your sorority daughter Uggs and Northface (notice these name brands aren’t sold at Walmart, and are not going away either!))

      • Dlo Burns says:

        Uggs (and over-designed affliction wear) are an odd beast in that the ‘douche’ parade have paraded them for a while, and that there have been numerous knock-offs sold in walmart. It’s amazing how long they’ve lasted.

  23. I think the solution is simple. People who get uptight about things like fashion have already punched their ticket out of geek culture. We started all this to get away from those people–from their shallow disapproval, their fickle tastes, and their desperate willingness to participate in dominance games and social shaming. (Like, say, making sweeping judgments about somebody’s gender politics based on the sort of frigging hat they wear…?!)

    The one common trait I’ve sussed out of men who wear fedoras is that they’re idiosyncratic and willing to commit a fashion no-no because it suits *some* kind of self-identification. Geek fashion, above all, should be personal, and if we’ve suddenly got a big problem with that, I’ve got a big problem with the new species of nerd that’s really concerned about judging what others wear.

    If they bitch about your fedora, just put on a Devo energy dome and kick their silly Pink asses. Who gives a fuck what that kind of person thinks? They’re the same kind of buzzkills who told me not to be a space tiger on the Internet and I’ve never quite grasped what they contribute to geekdom. I’m just gonna keep chasing my own personal mythology, because it amuses me, and to hell with anyone who thinks ill of it.

    • vonbobo says:

      self-identificationpersonal

      But the problem is that if everyone is wearing them, the person loses their self identity and personal fashion statement.

      • CH says:

        Yes… but… it’s still _your_ personal fashion statement.

        I started wearing black in high-school when I reached my personal “eff it” stage. I was the only one who did it, it was my thing. And some… many… years later I see all these kids dressed in _my_ personal fashion statement. Get off my lawn, you !”#!!”#¤ kids!!! But that’s ok… their black is different than my black… but… It was my thing!!!

    • Alpacaman says:

      I disagree completely. Any geek circle wil have criteria by which it judges people (the geek identity is basically founded on othering). It may be what distro you run, or if you want a Galaxy SIII over an iPhone 5, or you may judge people who use DSLRs if you are into rangefinders, or you may judge point and shoots if you are into DSLRs.

      I myself geek out about many things, but still care about fashion – really this is no more shallow than many other geek interests. I could easily be classified as a geek.

      To assign some kind of perceived depth to geekdom, a culture that is to many based around conspicuous consumption these days, is, well, wrong.

    • Dale P says:

      Honestly, if everyone was wearing energy domes, I would be as happy as the proverbial Larry.

  24. inurashii says:

    Ferchrissakes people this article isn’t about the hat

    • EvilTerran says:

      Post-structuralism says… BZZZT, nope.

      But please, do enlighten us as to what meaning emerges from your interaction with the text. It could only be more interesting than a post declaring “NUH-UH!” and nothing else.

      • I was actually thinking this would be an awesome novelty account. Just go into, say, every single BB thread and just gainsay every topic. “Ferchrissakes people this article isn’t really about Mentos and Diet Coke, what the hell is wrong with you?” “This post has nothing to do with kittens, my god, can’t you pathetic dupes see the light?” And so on ad nauseum.

        • Funk Daddy says:

          Is it just diet coke & mentos or will other death drinks work too?

        • Amanda Lord says:

          You mean Mentos & Diet Coke wasn’t a really a metaphor for horrible relationship choices?  You know, the one where you have fantastic chemistry, but always blow up in the end?  I feel so disappointed. ;)

      • inurashii says:

        Post-structuralism sort of IS the point. If you read the text and you’re like “Hey, you’re saying mean things about people who wear fedoras,” you’re leaving out a shitload of actual content, not just subtext.

        The question isn’t “Why is Ms. Alexander drawing a connection between socially problematic geeks and fedoras?”
        The question is, “Why is Ms. Alexander pointing out the connection that the internet draws between socially problematic geeks and fedoras?”

        The fedora has started to become a stand-in icon for the new entitled geek, with all the baggage going along with that. Agree or disagree, this article isn’t just talking about a hat.

    • CH says:

      Well, all I see in the article is some claim that somebody-claiming-to-be-geeks are dissing some other people that-they-claim-are-geeks (I’ve never really seen hats that much in the geek circles, it’s more of a hipster thingy in my opinion) for how they dress and I’m going WTF. Because seriously… that. is. not. cool!

      Oh, and something about nice guys feeling entitled and being therefore creepy having something to do with hats. I didn’t quite get that part, probably because I was so much WTF:ing about the dissing of how somebody else dresses. Turn in your geek cards if you ever even carried one!!! Gah!

  25. absimiliard says:

    Good Jesus H. (“Holy”) Christ-on-a-fucking-stick.

    Seriously?  Really?

    Look.  I know I’m a nerd.  I run a weekly D&D game, I play in three every-other-week games.  I’ve run LARPS, and played in them.  I’m an introvert who finds people exhausting.  I try to only watch genre shows.  I get it:  I’M A LOSER.

    I’m also happily married, for many years.  I drum, and I’m even thinking of getting up at open-mic this Wed. and singing while I drum myself some accompaniment to “Shenandoah”.  I’m part of an active bellydancing community, admittedly mostly through my wife.  I’m employed at a good job, and moderately well-educated.

    And I wear a red fedora, have for years.

    I’m not hitting on you, or anyone else.  I don’t give two fucks about what anyone thinks of me.  And I’m well aware that my fashion choices are poor:  I’m color-blind for fucks-sake.  (anything I wear that matches anything else I wear was doubtless chosen by my, non-colorblind, wife)

    But this is bullshit.  A hat’s a hat.

    -abs would like the haters to go fuck themselves, and if you think that’s because he wants to hit on women who think a hat is cool you are so god-damn clueless that it’s not even worth worth offering to sell you a clue for $.25 because you clearly wouldn’t know what the hell to do with it

    (and yes, this “movement” makes me bitter, anyone surprised? and no, I’ve never made a rape joke, WTF, who the hell makes rape jokes? {do you make jokes about genocide too?})

    • inurashii says:

       Which ‘movement’ makes you bitter?

      • absimiliard says:

        Okay, that was probably over-broad, you’re right.  But if there’s a movement to shame geeks who wear fedoras, then that pisses me off.  I don’t like shaming. (and I wear a red fedora every day, so it’s personal not hypothetical)

        I know I’m a loser, I don’t need more people looking to reinforce my bad self-image, frankly I wanted to leave that behind in high-school.  And I suspect that a lot of people who might well be friends of mine won’t have the self-confidence to take shaming in good-style.  (obviously this touched a button of mine and I’m not taking it in good-style)

        -abs will admit to getting a little hot under the collar and not, perhaps, using more temperate language:  but assuming that everyone who wears a fedora is some pickup artist looking to exploit “nice-guy”-ness for his own sexual advantage is gonna screw over a lot of innocent people’s heads

        • CH says:

          I think most geeks are standing right with you. Shame right back at those wanting to be better-than-you by putting others down (no way can they be geeks!). We got quite enough of that during in school, time for them, too, to grow up.

          Oh, and you don’t sound like a loser, it sounds like you are having fun in your life! And that’s what I at least count as success.

          • Robert Drop says:

            Geeks can be amazingly judgmental – being low on the social totem pole doesn’t seem to so much breed compassion and acceptance for many as much as the desire to find someone else to feel superior to.

          • Alpacaman says:

            Yes, it needs to be said.

          • gehringer says:

             exactly.  Many geeks *claim* to be against exclusionary cliques, but, when given the chance, go right ahead and make their own.

            They never actually hated cliques, they jsut wanted to get to be the ones in it making fun of outsiders.

          • Syndaryl says:

             Oh hell. No, Geeks shame each other and put each other down constantly.

            It’s just we normally reserve it to geeky subjects, which is at least something we know enough about to fight back over.

        • inurashii says:

          Dude I would not call you a loser, because I think that everybody struggles in life and it’s unhelpful to call them names. Also, I don’t support shaming people for dressing awkwardly even if they do.

          But IMO, it is not your fashion that is on trial in this article. I think that Ms. Alexander is pointing out that in some corners of the internet, the fedora has become an effigy for a certain kind of geek behavior, and that symbolism takes place WITHIN geek circles, not from the outside.

          Her issue isn’t so much the social awkwardness, I think, as the sense of entitlement … and, to a point, the defensiveness of ‘safe spaces’ that become unsafe for Others (in many cases, women).

          • absimiliard says:

            I can’t dispute that if there’s a real problem of entitled geeks exploiting “I’m a nice guy” to try to pick up women that they have a right to feel uncomfortable about it.

            What is irking me is the implication that if I want to wear a fedora I’m somehow one of them.  (or, worse, supporting them)

            -abs is pretty sure that you’re right and that that wasn’t her point, but it felt like it (and still kinda does, even after I’ve calmed down a bit), maybe it’s my fault for feeling that but there it is

          • inurashii says:

             I’m not gonna blame you for feeling defensive; I think it’s understandable. I am glad that you’re self-examining, and in the end if you live your life well and relate to people kindly and effectively, the stereotypes just aren’t about you.

    • Ladyfingers says:

      I wear a broad-rimmed, black, straw hat when the weather calls for it because I’m a white person in Australia and there are very few options for men when it comes to protecting your skin from the sun that match my taste in clothing (utilitarian goth-ish). I think I probably look Amish or something, but that’s fine. I like their style aside from the troll-beards. My look is probably helped by being thin and tall, which are handy things to be as far as clothing options are concerned.

      Anyway…

      As someone on the autistic spectrum, I find the whole “nice guy” hatred thing a bit of a chore. Not because I don’t understand it, mind you. I get that there are males who act nice and friendly with ulterior, passive-aggressive motives. But there seems to be an undercurrent of genuine hostility to men with social deficits. It’s very easy to call someone a loser (and “loser” is a word used almost exclusively against men), but it’s another thing to have a callous antipathy to the genuinely awkward.

      Lemme tell ya, all the advice we’re given about “being confident” is BAD ADVICE if you are socially awkward.

      My problem (until recently) was that I was as decent and retiring a human being as possible to nearly everyone around me because that’s my nature (and to avoid conflict), and because of a lovely combination of self-loathing shame and shyness, always heard months later that the object of my affections was perplexed at how uninterested I was in her. Because I never made any “moves”, because I could not read social cues and was scared of being a creep.

      I later learned to make honest, direct statements about my intent in a non-threatening way. And I learned to do this by initiating romantic activity online in text in dedicated spaces instead of in person.

      There are a bunch of innate social skills you are expected to master to pass as an acceptable human being, and there’s almost no way for the socially disastrous to even attempt them without being further discouraged, shamed, pepper-sprayed or worse.

      I wish schools actually taught social skills, it’s one area where you’re increasingly on your own as you get older.

  26. Halloween_Jack says:

    The origin of the meme may be this Ask MetaFilter thread, in which someone who said that he “regularly sport[s] pinstripes and a fedora” can’t get a date. Much worth reading. (It’s become sort of a MetaFilter meme, to the point where AskMe occasionally gets questions about whether it’s OK for anybody to wear a fedora, under any circumstances.) 

  27. snagglepuss says:

    Frank Sinatra ? Al Capone ? “Confident manliness” ?

    Fuck that. I’m a 100% straight mature male in his 50′s, and fedoras only remind me of Michael Jackson, just about the most sexually confused, insecure, remote, emotionally-unavailable and possibly deranged cultural figure of the last 50 years.

    Anybody who thinks that evoking THAT basket-case makes them look more desirable is ‘way barking up the wrong tree, or else so clueless that mere hat-wear choices are at the very bottom of their list of mistakes.

  28. pitkataistelu says:

    It’s a very unfortunate situation. 1940s-50s men’s fashion is very appealing, but almost no-one can now pull it off because of all the negative connotations. Those of us who enjoy the aesthetic can only turn to classic cinema.

  29. Girard says:

    But we geeks are late to the fedora party. The hat, often in plaid, made the same rounds through “bro” culture already, popping up on viewers of Jersey Shore and Entourage.

    Fedoras have been prevalent in geek culture for over a decade at this point (perhaps related to the “Red Hat” Linux logo?). I remember on Carnegie Mellon campus circa 2001, a fedora was one of the most common dork fashion statements. Alpha nerds tended to sport a fedora, knee-length black trenchcoat (typically an homage to Neo or Silent Bob), an unkempt beard, and a greasy ponytail. This was typically the type of person whose idea of a conversation was “A type of game which you win by making the most numerous and obscure Monty Python quotes.” So, yeah, not great socially, sometimes quite hard to deal with (possibly some dealing with Aspberger’s), and likely to encourage ire or frustration from people dealing with them socially.

    • Teresa Mork says:

      I remember being rather fond of my knee length black trench and my red wide brim fedora while partaking in college classes in the early 2000s, myself, actually; and though I could have fairly lengthy conversations about Kevin’s films (hell, I’ve just about become Randall from Clerks at this point), I was still fairly limited on my Python knowledge at the time.

  30. Eleri Hamilton says:

    Wow, what a round of judgemental crap. Fedora= insecure nerd who can’t get a date? Maybe not a date with the whiny ***ch who runs screaming at the sight of a hat. Her loss, cause I know quite a few fedora wearing geeks who are getting plenty of dates, and plenty of action. This includes my husband, who has sported the same fedora since his teens.

  31. You can take my fedora when you pry it from my cold dead hands.

  32. Pat Wisking says:

  33. angusm says:

    You know who else hates fedoras? Scientologists.

    Fedoras are apparently one of the hallmarks – mentioned by name in L. Ron’s writings – of the evil Marcab Confederacy, who are some species of interplanetary bad guys.

  34. Thraxamer says:

    Geez. Whatever happened to just wearing hats because you like them?

    I get it, people can make bad fashion choices (hats, as mentioned in other posts, do require one dress up to their level). I also get that some people are late to adopt certain fashionable (or unfashionable) trends. 

    But, c’mon. Sometimes, a hat is just a hat. 

  35. Cruelly mocking the poorly dressed isn’t new for the internet.  Remember People of Walmart? 

    That said, I think there is something much simpler going on here.  When something is overexposed, there is a pop culture backlash.  Fedoras were once a rare sight.  Then there was one in every group of guys.  Now they are everywhere.  Public reaction went from “What a cool, unique hat!” to “Yet another f*#*ing fedora…” The same thing has happened with bands, TV shows, other fashions, movies and just about everything else under the sun.  It’s not just the internet that mocks fedoras.  Even 30 Rock mocked the hat trend about 4 years ago.

    All that aside, if you like what you’re wearing and feel confident and secure about who you are, who cares what anyone else thinks about your clothes?  Wear what you like.

  36. petertrepan says:

    To guys who I used to be: You’re not in the friend zone because of the hat. You’re there because she’s not interested. Don’t ask why she’s not interested; she doesn’t know, and it doesn’t matter. Just find out who is.

  37. Chesterfield says:

    Pfft… Everybody wears a fedora. The truly hip are wearing top hats or tri-corner hats. 

    The reason it is so hard to look good wearing a fedora, top hat, or tri-corner hat is that they are from a different era. They are now costume pieces more than apparel.

  38. Simon Péter says:

    I haven’t noticed this particular nerd-debate before, but this article kinda makes me want to get a fedora specifically so I could more authoritatively discuss it, and argue with peple on the Internet about whether or not I am a sexist hipster pickup artist. 

    • Yeah, I had never considered getting a fedora before today, but now that it’s forbidden, it may be compulsory. (The grand irony is that the only people I know who wear fedoras are women.)

  39. Scott says:

    I OWN THE WORLD’S LARGEST FEDORA (OVER 18 FEET TALL) AND LET ME TELL YOU, THIS “BLOG” REALLY STEAMS MY GEARS

    I INVESTED MY LIFE SAVINGS INTO THIS GIANT HAT AND I’LL BE DAMNED IF I’LL LET SOME “INTERNET” “BLOG” DERIDE MY FASHIONABLE SUPER HAT

    SORRY ABOUT THE LARGE LETTERS BUT CONSIDERING THE SUBJECT MATTER I REFUSE TO TAKE MY CAPS OFF

  40. Paul says:

    Is your thesis seriously “many geeks act misogynistic so we should mock their fashion”?

    And your zinger at the end about the fedora previously being a woman’s fashion? You’re fighting misogyny by drawing negative attention to cases where individuals ignored gender roles?

    Misogyny should rightfully be condemned whenever it rears it’s ugly head. I don’t have much patience for indiscriminate bullying either.

    (my head is too freakishly large for hats, I’ve got no dog in this fight)

  41. SamSam says:

    I don’t understand this post at all.

    It starts from the basis that the people creating these blogs are mean, and that this is an example of unfortunate geek-on-geek bullying.

    Then we get told that the fedora is “a hat emblematic of privilege-denial in geekdom” and an implication that fedora-wearers are “love-entitled” (whatever that means) jerks who feel like they have the right to make rape jokes?

  42. Phil Millar says:

    The problem is that the fedora is worn by guys who have no idea how to charm a woman, so they think wearing an interesting and smart hat and being overly polite will do it, not, you know, being interesting or washing regularly

  43. mmrtnt says:

    I wear a hat (ballcap, mostly) to keep the sun out of my eyes or to keep my hair out of my face.

    I have not worn a hat as a fashion accessory since high school.

    I think that’s the dividing line, right there.

    There are people who wear a hat to make a statement and people who wear a hat because they want/need to wear a hat.

    The first group might include people who are unsure of themselves, or socially inept.  These are the people towards whom the scorn is rightfully directed because, as we all know, you and I have never been unsure or inept.

    The second group are just well-adjusted people who wear hats.

  44. Ian Wood says:

    I’m told my hats keep me from doing stupid things on the Internet, but I’m unconvinced. And here in Southern California they help keep my ever-more-exposed scalp from getting burnt. That said: good, well-shaped straw, not felt, unless it’s cold-ish and dark. The bowler is an affectation and can no longer be worn in clubs due the age of its wearer and his general sweatiness. The 100% pure polyester trilby shown in the icon to the left was sacrificed for someone else’s hot tub-related book trailer shoot. I wear my purple and black straw trilby while busking. Finally, my white Homburg, formerly a wedding hat, was last worn while stacking dry ice for Judy Chicago, because, what the hell, why not.

    So: here’s to wearing whatever hat you feel like wearing, whenever you feel like wearing it.

  45. Reverend Loki says:

    I’m going to put a fedora style brim on my Jayne hat now.  It shall be the crown proclaiming me king of the hipster/geeks.

  46. z n says:

    I am a woman, and I look damn good in a fedora.  The fedora was a woman’s hat until Hollywood co-opted it for some reason.

    While the instance of fedora-wearing among some (at least on the west coast of north america) seems to correlate somewhat with popped-collar douchery, if the rest of the wearer’s ensemble and personal carriage don’t hint at the wearer being an asshat, then I simply nod as we cross paths and presume they’re just normal folks who like flattering, somewhat-practical hats.

    • knoxblox says:

       My hypothesis is that Hollywood co-opted the fedora because it helped create a visually interesting Noir effect…redirecting and concentrating light upon the face when an actor lit a cigarette in the dark, or hiding said face when under a streetlamp.

    • mmrtnt says:

      The fedora was a woman’s hat until Hollywood co-opted it for some reason.

      Can you imagine the ridicule endured by the guy in Hollywood who decided to start wearing women’s hats back in the 20th century?

      Who was he?  Bogie?  Cagney?

    • petertrepan says:

      Telling a douche apart from any other fedora-wearer would be much more straightforward if we could convince them to switch from fedoras and whatnot to literal asshats.

    • Brainspore says:

      The fedora was a woman’s hat until Hollywood co-opted it for some reason.

      Wait, what? The first fedora-style hats were indeed worn by women, but they had made the transition into men’s fashion by the end of the 19th century.

  47. Tavie says:

    This is all Joey Jeremiah’s fault.

  48. Egypt Urnash says:

    “But we geeks are late to the fedora party.”

    What? Wait, seriously. What?

    The Hat Guy has been a favorite character class for male nerds since at LEAST the eighties, when I was old enough to be aware of fashion.

  49. Derek Prowse says:

    me and my fedora look disapprovingly at your antics.  

  50. Phil Millar says:

    Did the guys getting all angry about hats only just realise they were being mocked for wearing fedoras? The fedora isn’t whats funny, its everything else about you, the fedora is a symptom

    • absimiliard says:

      I’m moderately certain that your point is why I’m feeling hostility over this.

      -abs will admit he’s often-wrong, so maybe you’re not right after all

    • EvilTerran says:

      If you’d actually paid attention when reading the thread, you’d have noticed people were “getting all angry about” such things as “indiscriminate bullying”, “social shaming”, “vitriolic derision”, “shallow exclusionary behavior”, etcetc. Exactly what you’re demonstrating in your comment here, in other words.

      Phoenix Lomax put it very well up-thread, IMO: http://boingboing.net/2012/10/02/why-the-fedora-grosses-out-gee.html#comment-668877668

    • It’s funny that “guys getting angry about hats” seems to involve little actual anger thus far, and not everyone bothered by this silly, arbitrary prejudice has been male. 

      But hey, the basis of your original point stands, and I think we can all agree: “Hats.”

  51. MrWednesday7 says:

    Most of the hats pictured are trilbys, fedoras look like this  http://www.hatsandcaps.co.uk/?cid=XPNHQIJWT5PUD061QUMLY7A3TDB6PV0O

  52. a_hat_guy says:

    It’s just a personal, anecdotal observation on my part, but I have noticed that there’s a vast gender disparity between those who tease me about my hat and those who don’t. It’s women who most often are doing the teasing, by about five to one. Maybe I’m just reading my own situation into the article, but I think that it’s trying to provide some explanation for that kind of disparity (among other things). Maybe that’s why I’m not all that offended by it: It’s less about cool people pointing and laughing at the “losers,” and more an exploration of why people (mostly women, in my non-scientific experience) are squicked out by guys whose dating profile pictures (which are assumed to be the images that best represent them) feature a certain type of hat.

    I mean, stereotyping is wrong, but you’re allowed to not be attracted to others for all sorts of vacuous reason (body shape, fashion choices, favorite band, etc.); what makes hats any different?

    Making fun of people for any reason seems cruel, but freedom of expression allows for that sort of thing. You are, of course, free to complain about being teased, and they are allowed to tease you for *that*, and you’re allowed to complain in turn, ad infinitum.

    • petertrepan says:

      You are, of course, free to complain about being teased, and they are allowed to tease you for *that*, and you’re allowed to complain in turn, ad infinitum.

      That sounds suspiciously like good-natured banter. Teasing or not, those people are introducing themselves to you. Respond confidently enough, and you’ll be officially introduced. I guess hats are good for something! :)

    • PathogenAntifreeze says:

      They might be flirting.  _Gently_ tease back on their fashion  (i.e. “Well I couldn’t find an orange hair clip like yours this morning”)?  The only women who got enthusiastic about my hats over the years also ended up dating me if they weren’t already… I’m not buying the premise of this article.  Wear what makes you feel good, and feeling good will make you more appealing than trying to match other people’s fashion thoughts.

  53. whowantstoast says:

    Misogyny is awful. Online bullying is awful. I kind of think boingboing should be against both, not endorsing one over the other. Any hateful stereotype drags in innocents. You can’t, no matter how much you want to, judge a person’s character by their hat.

  54. pierre says:

    This is simple.  No suit jacket, no slacks, no fedora.  

    It just SCREAMS hipster douchebag. 

    • Alpacaman says:

      Maybe just the slacks. The suit jacket and fedora have long been relegated to the realm of ‘law student trying to look edgy’

  55. nothingspecial says:

    Everyone is entitled to love.  Period.  That’s step one, a given.  If you feel the need to call out people for being “love-entitled,” then the problem is definitely with you and whatever social framework you feel entitles you to go around telling anyone they are not entitled to love.

    • spejic says:

      That post was something special.

    • TooGoodToCheck says:

      I think the point was that they’re not specifically entitled to romantic love from the current object of their desire, not that they have to spend the rest of their days unloved.

      • Funk Daddy says:

        You are right, but that’s vag/cock/other-entitled, totally diff. Keeping love special is all good

      • Peter says:

        I think one of the problems with this denigration of the ‘nice guy’ mindset is that the TERM can apply to all sorts of people, from the people who are definitely on the creepy end of “I’m a nice guy and so therefore you, specifically, must love me”, to guys who are in a socially awkward hole and can’t seem to pull themselves out of it, but really ARE nice people, to people who are frustrated that despite them trying to be good people, and constantly told they’re good catches, they can’t seem to find ANYBODY because they lack a certain indefinable charisma, to guys who are just a little bit unlucky romantically and are in a low mood and want to whine about it.  That’s a pretty wide net of people… and it seems to collapse all of them into the one, worst, category.

        And even for some of the people who are slightly on the sketchier end of that scale…

        a large number of these people sincerely believe that if they acted like assholes, they’d be MUCH MORE successful at getting what they seem to want most in the world.

        And DESPITE that sincere belief, they’re refusing to do it, they continue plugging along being nice.

        I think there’s at least something admirable in that, even if they’re completely wrong, and even if they have other flaws that scare women away.

        • R_Young says:

          Wait… you mean harmful stereotypes harm the people being stereotyped?  

          I mean, this shouldn’t be a great insight, but somehow in this morass of a comment thread, it sure damn well seems one.  Bravo.

        • grumble-bum says:

          Yeah, that.

          I know I’ve had periods of fitting into one or the other of the categories you’ve listed. I think that suffering from a “nice guy problem” (whichever one fits) is not a permanent state. The conception of “why” it’s a “problem” becomes more sophisticated as we age, hopefully, and eventually it ceases to be a “problem” at all.

    • Alpacaman says:

       Am I entitled to your love?

  56. Walter Dexter says:

    Now I want to go buy a hat. My grandpa always wore one and it looked good on him.

  57. PathogenAntifreeze says:

    I wear a simple, canvas fedora when it’s raining, because fumbling with an umbrella annoys me… and more rarely a nice-ish trilby if it’s cold out and goes with my clothes.  Both habits going back almost 20 years.  Ta-da… nothing about forever alone or rape jokes, etc…

    I found this article entirely creepy and the way it transitioned from “here’s this thing about how people are hating on fedoras” to “and here’s what fedora wearers are like, stated as fact” was pretty wack… made it sound as though Leigh Alexander was agreeing with and expanding upon whatever the anti-fedora sites were alleging.

    Also… I think this is the first “OMG what are they wearing????” article I’ve seen on BoingBoing.  Plenty of “here’s something cool someone was wearing” articles, but first time seeing one with this tone.  I’d expect this more from a print magazine with ad revenue from seasonally changing clothiers who have an interest in such behavior.

  58. Ashley Yakeley says:

    “In one incident, a flash mob was staged, using fake OKCupid profiles, to humiliate those who turned up.”

    Someone should do this to the fat women of OKCupid.

    Wait, no they shouldn’t, because it’s incredibly mean-spirited to humiliate people who have done nothing offensive on the basis of their appearance.

    • novium says:

      Not defending the flashmob, because that was a super assholeish and cruel thing to do, so I agree with you there… but there is a BIT of difference between making fun of people because of their choice of fashion accessory and making fun of people because of their body type (and it gets a little nastier when you factor gender in it, because we live in a society where women’s value is perceived as being very tied to their attractiveness to straight white dudes, so while a fat man might get shit for being fat, a fat woman will get shit for being fat *and* for the crime of being fat while female). 

      • Ashley Yakeley says:

        Except their choice of fashion accessory wasn’t mentioned in the plot. It was “forever alone guys”, which can only refer to how men’s value is perceived to women in society.

        • novium says:

          Or to an internet meme. Even if you take it as a categorization, it’s still not as tied to the person himself as factors like race, sex, or body type. 

          • Ashley Yakeley says:

            “Forever alone” is actually worse, because it refers precisely to being of low value to women, whereas one can be fat and attractive to men.

          • novium says:

            Does it? I thought it was a generic (and non-gendered!) meme for exaggerated disappointment/sadness/loneliness. Not exactly the same. 

  59. Lurking_Grue says:

    Damn, I guess i’ll wear a fez now. Fezzes are cool. 

  60. Nadreck says:

    I’d love to do my part to increase the low level of Hat Technology (as compared to, say, that of Sui Dynasty China) in our society but my head is too swelled.  Hat making machines go up to (maybe) size 10 and I need at least a 12.  That leaves with Army Surplus and a local safari hat manufacturer call “Tilley’s”.

  61. capnmarrrrk says:

    Fedoras: The power to stop a crying baby and attract weasels since 1935.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ztA0AJxHqQ8#t=00m33s

  62. Lurking_Grue says:

    Wow, The person that runs Fedoras of OKC seems kinda a nasty person to go on a crusade like this.

  63. Alpacaman says:

    Its like the bow tie. Overworn, stripped of all heritage and meaning, somehow still claimed as ‘personal’, and only 3 people could ever pull it off properly.

  64. A C says:

    First they came for the fedoras, but I didn’t speak up because I no longer wore them….

    Then they came for the trilbys, but I didn’t speak up because I hate hipsters….
    Then they went after ballcaps, because obviously only pedophiles wear them….
    Then they came for my engineer’s cap (castro hat) and their was no one left but me…

    BALD.

    You know why I wear strange hats? Because I’m fucking bald, you insensitive clods! Can’t a man just try something different so he doesn’t look like a common person? What happened to just wearing something cause you LIKE it, and you don’t follow all this incredibly specific meme trolling on the internet for whatever goddamn stupid pointless nitpicking bullshit “holier than thou” metaimage crap reasons of the day according to feigning affrontment women?

    Jesus, is every single facet of a person up for stereotyping now? Is that what we have become? All I have left are Fezzes. Stay away from my tiki Fez. Dammit, why can’t someone just enjoy being eccentric anymore? What happened to individuality?

    This is not very BB. This is not wonderful, even in a sense of wonderment. This is just sad pseudo-psychological bigotry trying to pin blame on awkward men, and hats. Strange bigotry here.

    I can’t grow hair anymore, and I’m not even 30. I wear a hat to relieve my eternal boredom of looking at the same inevitable shaved head every day. My hair grows no more than a centimeter, and I’m mostly bald. All I have left for happiness is my massive beard, and strange hats.

    For the record, I am a biker, watchmaker, and not awkward at all with women. And stay the hell away from my beard!!!

  65. “I have, in fact work a fedora hat, but ironically. Irony has seeped into the felt of any fedora hat I have ever owned-not out of any wish of mine but out of necessity. A fedora hat worn by me without the necessary protective irony would eat through my head and kill me.”George Trow, 1980.  http://goo.gl/qQsww

    Three decades later, the irony has gone on a bit long.

  66. Which is a shame, because I have a trilby I’m rather fond of.  

    But after a few years of hipsters trying too hard to be quirky (in a conformist way), I’m just plain embarrassed to be out in public with  it.

    So let’s all deride those who don’t keep up with fashion ! 

  67. novium says:

    Hmm, so torn here. On the one hand? I wish hats were still a thing for guys. They can be so damn attractive. I am overjoyed when TV shows go noir because yum. On the other hand…hats are not a thing and haven’t been for decades, so wearing them is frequently a deliberate form of self-fashioning. And in this way, the article is dead on. It’s the marker of a certain kind of attitude, a certain type of guy. Not always, of course- I’ve got a friend who has an awesome collection of hats and it’s just his thing- but often enough that it can be recognized. 

  68. eagleapex says:

    This post has shown me how shitty of a person I am.

  69. Ushao says:

    Thanks! This article reminded me to wear my trilby more often. My wife helped me break the tie between the two I was interested in buying and thinks I look great in it.

  70. Dr. NerdLove says:

    One thing that can be frustrating  - and why guys GO to PUA forums – is because there really isn’t much advice out there for guys who want to get better at dating and get over that whole social awkwardness thing.

    Culturally, guys feel like they’re locked in a binary state: you’re good with girls or you’re not and there’s no in between. Weirder still, acknowledging that you’re not good with girls is actually more shameful than just suffering in silence. Nobody looks twice at somebody who wants to get better at basketball getting some coaching or someone wanting to learn Spanish getting tutored after class. 

    But trying to learn how to meet women still carries a social stigma.

    The fact that the only real venue out there for guys is pick-up culture (which DOES have some positive aspects to it buried deep in the adversarial view of sex and misogynistic views of women) just makes it worse. Women have an entire industry dedicated to getting better at dating. 

    Men have… Mystery.It’s a catch-22. Either you’re Forever Alone Guy… or you’re creepy for trying to NOT be Forever Alone Guy. Not, mind you, that a horde of geeks don’t bring it on themselves. A lot of the issues that geeks have – the entitlment issues, the deep-seated rage at women for not giving them the love they “deserve”, the passive-aggressive Nice Guy ™ tendencies – are the results of self-inflicted victimhood and the refusal to believe that they have the ultimate responsibility for their predicament.

    And quite frankly: screw fedoras; driver’s caps are way cooler. Look better with more facial features too.(Full disclosure: I run a nerd dating advice blog and podcast: http://www.doctornerdlove.com

    • Leigh Alexander says:

      Thanks Dr. NerdLove! I’m a fan.

    • novium says:

      It seems to me a  little bit that part of the problem is the assumption underlying the very concept of that binary- that women are something that you’re either good with or your not, I mean. Every once in a while I’ll come across a discussion on the subject and a lot of the guys seem to approach it not as, “I am a socially awkward person in general, how can I be better with people” or “man, I don’t have a lot of dating experience, what’s a good way to remedy that” but as if women are some monolithic but esoteric subject that can be mastered by learning the secret rules or something. And, I guess connected to that, that all relationships with women are romantic ones. I mean, the assumption that dating is the goal always seems to be there. “I’m not good with women” never seems to encompass purely platonic relationships, and more than in just glossing over them, but also kind of implying that firmly non-romantic relationships are pointless. Hmm. I can’t think of how to say this. I’m mostly basing it off the complaints I used to hear from guys in my social circle back in college. 

      • Dr. NerdLove says:

        A lot of socially awkward guys *have* platonic friendships with women. The problem they’re having is that they can’t seem to get any OTHER type of relationship with them. And yeah, they tend to see women as one giant monolithic entity… usually ones that have somehow CONSPIRED to keep them out of the dating pool.

        (See also: women only like assholes/alpha males/etc)

        Solving one issue (“I can’t get a girlfriend”) usually entails solving an underlying issue (“I’m socially awkward”, issues of entitlement, not understanding how to relate to women as people rather than consumable objects) first.

        • novium says:

          Relating to women as people rather than consumable objects- yes. That is exactly the phrase I’ve been trying to nail down for a while. Thank you. I guess the thing that used to get to me was that these guys who were in the same group as me would gripe about “women” (and oh my god, it was so over the top misogynistic that in retrospect I’m kind of shocked I tolerated it) and about how all women were this or all women were that and what they were really meant was “women I want to sleep with”, because women they knew who they had platonic relationships with didn’t…count as women. And I don’t mean in a “you’re the exception” kind of way, but in a kind of “you don’t count as a person” way too. 

  71. edthehippie says:

    hahrharrharhrhrhrhrrhrhr  surely i am not the only geek who reads boing and expected an article about linux ?? like a fedora and ubuntu comparison or some such ??  harharhrhrh !!!!

  72. Russell Letson says:

    Strange vibes reading both the post and the comments. I’ve worn hats–eight-piece caps and a range of wide-brim fedoras–for more than forty years. It’s partly practicality (cold, rain, sun) and partly look (as distinct from fashion). I find the history of headgear interesting, including understanding the conventions for naming and wearing. (I’m enough of a geezer that the wearing of a hat–usually a ball-cap–in a restaurant still strikes me as ill-mannered, even after seeing it done for twenty-some years. I have to remind myself that these conventions are always subject to change–take a look at the last part of Hamlet V.ii. But I digress.) The currently-fashionable hipster hat–a narrow-brim trilby–is not a style I much care for, though I remember when the pork-pie was cool–I wore one in high school, loden green with a Madras band and an orange feather. But that was another century, and not the late part, either.

    If there’s a “fashion” problem with any style of hat, I suspect, it has more do with whether the wearer can pull it off (while keeping it on)–whether the look he gets says what he wants it to. I’m old and fond of classic styles, and my favorite fedora is older than I am (mid-1930s German, refurbished by a south-side Chigaco hatter), what younger people call an Indiana Jones hat. It’s the kind of hat that men used to wear for outdoor work *or* as part of business dress. It’s graceful and comfortable and it keeps the rain off. Only downside is that the wind loves to steal it and you have to wrangle the thing when you go indoors and (quite properly) remove it. An eight-piece cap can be stuffed in a pocket and can stand up to a Minnesota windstorm (and my winter ones have earflaps!) I do have to say, though, that the Indy thing is a bit of a disincentive to wearing my classic fedoras–a narrower-brimmed 1950s-style Dobbs avoids those associations without invoking unwanted Sinatra comparisons or echoing the undersized-trilby look of the college boys.

    And if I have any doubts about a particular hat, I consult my wife, who about such matters is never wrong. (The rest of the stuff about hats and dating rituals and such is like reading SF to me.)

  73. doomcake says:

    That’s some powerful opinions on hats. Personally, my only fedora was a gift from my girlfriend. I think geeks of both sexes tend towards classic headgear, which is fine by me. This article is a little more silly than it is mean, but only a little

  74. Josh Jasper says:

    Inevitably, criticism of a group of idiots in hats gets taken personally by large numbers of nerds who own that style of hat.

    Seriously, dudes, if your response to this blog post is to rage against the women who’re mocking a certain class of men typified by wearing fedoras for being asshats, congratulations, you’ve just joined them in the asshat box.

    To reverse the transformation, calm down, and shut up.  

    No one is going to take your hat away. If a group of douchecanoes on OKC are giving hat wearing dudes a bad name, they’re the problem, not the women who’re mocking them. Oh, and you’re the problem now too, for being such a fool as to take it personally. Unless you’re the dude in the second to last photo, in which case, yes, this is totally about you.

  75. Ashley Yakeley says:

    Definitely the classiest touch is where she compares wearing a fedora to telling rape jokes.

  76. bwcbwc says:

    An article about fedoras in geekdom and no one has discussed the example of Markus “Notch” Persson of Mojang fame? Of course he doesn’t exactly fit the meme or the hypothesis of the article-the hat and the look (blacks and dark greys) are almost always integrated, so he can get away with wearing it almost everywhere..

  77. Dominic Armitage says:

    Why is being socially awkward held up as a badge of honor for geeks? Is it considered acceptable to be illiterate or innumerate? Social skills are difficult, just like maths and grammar and spelling, however also just like maths and grammar and spelling they are learnable skills and also just as important for living a happy productive life.

    • Dr. NerdLove says:

      “Given in shame, adopted with pride” basically. Lots of folks bought into the stereotype that all geeks are socially awkward, ergo, an attitude of “screw off haters, we’re better BECAUSE we don’t conform to social standards” emerged.

  78. Ian Osmond says:

    I’ve been wearing a fedora since 1988, when I was fourteen years old.  Screw you, fedora-haters.  I’m not giving up a hat that I’ve worn for most of my life because you don’t like it.

    I WILL say that I think that narrow-brimmed fedoras don’t look as good as wide-brimmed fedoras.  And they’re not as practical — my wide-brimmed fedora keeps sun and rain out of my face and off my neck better than a narrow-brimmed one would.

  79. lumpygravy2 says:

    It is my favorite new personal car game that I play everywhere, not just in the car, counting hipster hats and the dweebs that wear them in a pathetic attempt at being cool.  Too dumb to know that the cardinal rule of cool is that nothing you wear can make you cool.  

  80. lumpygravy2 says:

    Remember the 50s? And how the clueless then who wanted to be cool would throw on a beret, snap their fingers, and imagine that they were no cool beatniks?  Well, it has been recycled.  Get you fedora today.  Done one and instantly you become recognizable to everyone as just another failed loser in your copycat hipster hat.

  81. donovan acree says:

    20 years with the same hat (pushfront porkpie fedora). I think I’ll ignore this noise.

  82. markfrei says:

    I prefer to take Glenn O’Brien’s advice on these matters over Boing Boing’s.  Grown up men can and should wear well made, grown up clothes.

    That some young dudes look like they are playing bad dress up games in ill chosen and ill fitting attire doesn’t take anything away from that.

  83. - - says:

    So… your point is that those geeks who wear fedoras (I don’t, I think the brims tend to be too narrow for them to be practical, but to each their own) are doing it wrong because they aren’t the socially experienced, popular people?

    I’m sure there’s a lot of 80s high school drama villains who agree that being socially awkward is enough to merit the condescending tone and derisive attitude, but in the real world, that’s just mean.

    Your taking the most stereotypical anti-geek stance ever portrayed in popular culture, with the added benefit of singling out an arbitrary sub-group aside, let’s examine your actual claims.
    You tell about the ‘forever alone’ jokes, the ‘no women on the internet’ meme. Yeah, those exist, no wonder, and in all fairness have some basis in truth: among my friends, their degree of geekiness has always been inversely correlated with the ease with which they make any romantic connections.
    And yes, female geeks were, historically, comparably rare, and in my direct environment still are. Does that mean I’m hostile to any females who self-identify as geeks? Of course not, the fact there are fewer geeks doesn’t mean that’s something any male geek experiences as desireable.

    You also tell about geeks who were fedoras. However, nowhere do you provide a credible link between the two except for those people who link them solely for the purpose of picking on the geeks wearing these fedoras – who are, tautologically, not unbiased sources.
    We could as well say that they’re wearing the hats because it was an era when a man could take a tommy gun and shoot all who cross them. Or an era when (practically) every guy was a former soldier (we -are- talking interwar period here). Or, more closely related to the theme, because they wish for a time when male fashion was so strict and uniform that all men wore very similar clothing at most times, because it would provide a form of brotherhood. Or maybe a time when notorious criminals could walk the streets, live in luxury and style, and still maintain some sort of code of honour. Or twenty thousand other things.
    If anything, ‘when a doll was just a doll’ is one of the worst possibilities available: the Roaring Twenties started with women’s right to vote and included some of the greatest progress in male and female equality. A doll was -not- just a doll in the era of fedoras.

    Finally, let’s take a look at your complaints about the idea of the ‘friend zone’. If you think being a geek, fedora-wearing or otherwise, makes people any more or less subject to the phenomenon, I’m afraid I’ll have to prove you wrong. With that greatest of all things, SCIENCE, I can illustrate that it is a general phenomenon among men, without making a qualitative judgement:
    http://www.suntimes.com/lifestyles/health/12452915-423/sexual-tension-simmers-in-many-male-female-friendships.html

    So to sum up:
    1. Your point could have been made by a stereotypical villain.
    2. You provide no credible connection between fedoras and any attitude towards women.
    3. Your suggested reasons for wearing a fedora are factually disprovable, with many better alternatives available.
    4. The attitudes you try to shove into the hands of this arbitrary group of people are, in fact, very broad and general.

  84. Tess says:

    Hmmmm.  I have a lot of fedoras, and as of last year wore them all the time – particularly a beat-up old brown suede one I got for $5 at a thrift shop.  It had a dead man’s name written inside it in felt-tip, now smudged beyond salvation, and the original feather.  I have a really torn-up brown suede jacket too; I wore them together a lot.  I should do that again now that it’s not so hot out, actually.  I miss my favorite hat.

    I like my hats, but I’m not a guy, so I suppose all the hate doesn’t really apply to me – although actually I mostly wear my hats when I’m dressing like a guy (dapper butch me) and sometimes I get “sirred” when I do.  

    I think what gets me about this article – and a lot of these comments – is the level of fashion policing going on.  I might like or not like someone’s style choice, and I’ll admit sometimes I can get fairly snarky about it, particularly if they’re being an utter ass.  (That asshole preacher the other day – why did he think saddle shoes were a good choice with his ensemble?)  But usually, if someone thinks they look good, I’m all for it.  People can wear the most ridiculous things, and if they’re happy about it, so am I.  The woman at the airport in red skinny jeans, a chartreuse short corduroy jacket, peacock-blue top, and bright orange scarf?  She looked awesome!
    Last year, in addition to fedoras, I had a lot of fun wearing multiple plaids.  It was a game: how many forms of plaid can I wear at once? (Socks, shirt, coat, hat, gloves, scarf.) This year, while multiple plaids are still kicking around in my thrift-store-eclectic and gender-complex wardrobe, I’m enjoying mismatching patterns:  plaid with argyle with stripes, generally.  I am not doing this to look cool; my default assumption is that if I do something it is automatically Not Cool (although a batch of Terribly Cool people in mismatched plaid walked past me the other day, confusingly).  I just like to amuse myself with my version of Not Cool.  

    I can’t really buy the fedora = Entitled Nice Guy thing. I mean, geekdom is chock-full of Entitled Nice Guys, so if geek guys are wearing lots of fedoras, there you have it…  but it’s not the hat that should take the blame.If my hat and other fashion choices screen out people I wouldn’t want to date because OH GODS THE JUDGEY, I suppose that works out well.  So far I end up dating people who look at my sometimes rather strange outfits and think I look fun and interesting. 

  85.  That was really thoughtful article. Like most things nowadays, it’s just one of those things entangled among the much more serious issues that no one person is capable of dealing with, especially when there are a much larger crowd militantly defending the status quo. Having said that. Most of those pics with fedoras looked pretty cool. I want a fedora now!

    If I have to fall on one side of the fence, I think it has to be pro-fedoras. Projecting your feelings onto a group of people is never a great thing, even if you can usually understand the sentiment. The fedora mocking is really petty though, and it’s coming from an ugly place, and it’s being sanctioned by a number of people who should be able to sympathize with being humiliated, insulted and put down.

    Having said that, taking pictures of yourself always teeters dangerously close to lameness, so it won’t hurt you to not have pictures of yourself in a fancy hat floating on the webs.

  86. desiredusername says:

    I think this all this “DO NOT WANT” dating messaging is directed at the “oddball jazz-aficionado amongst the rockers” look from the 80s. The loner young man who goes in his own direction and surprises the love interest in how deep his passion goes for listening to jazz records while everyone else is listening to Wham or something. However for many people, chances are the link to an “against-the-grain” passion for jazz has been removed and only the image remains AKA a pastiche of what once represented someone with a sense of appreciation and style that was a cut above the rest. I can appreciate that criticism.

    What I see getting unfortunately lumped in this messaging is the surfer/skater trilby with an appreciation of 50s vacation culture and good hearted geek/nerds that loves trench coats and noir imagery. In my opinion it’s easy to hate on the nerds and unwarrantedly insensitive. As far the youthful surfer trilby surfer/skate culture, if the person has the character associated with the hat, they won’t care if a bunch of random internet people want to date them or not. Chances are they wouldn’t be on OKC anyway.

  87. Singe says:

    I’ve got a fedora, but I only wear it on hot sunny days outside. It’s simply practical.

  88. Brainspore says:

    On an unrelated note, anybody else going to see Elvis Costello at Hardly Strictly Bluegrass in S.F. this Friday?

  89. grumble-bum says:

    I’m not sure if anyone has mentioned this yet, but I seem to recall the fedora (not trilby, etc.) as being a signifier of a certain type of geeky person, waaay back in the late 80′s/early 90′s. Like, paired with a duster coat.

    Is it possible that the modern adopters of this look are calling back to this as a touchstone, perhaps in memory of weird uncles or older brothers?

    Also, relative to the endless nice guy/creep thing, DAMN MY LIFE IS GREAT. WHEN DID THAT HAPPEN.

  90. schlocktober says:

    Fedora = Balding + Doesn’t Like Sports

  91. case0004 says:

    fedoras are silly. but so is the ridiculously-speculative, link-something-random-to-sexism, victimize-socially-awkward-people, cliche internet article.

Leave a Reply