As dorky as umbrella hats might be, I appreciate the hands-free rain protection they're going for (even if they might leave you with a dry head and wet shoulders). The invention of the umbrella hat predates the modern safety bicycle and the ballpoint ben, and while they may not be en vogue, they've protected countless heads from sun, rain, and more. I was excited to find a short history of this ridiculous item in Mel Magazine.
The invention of the umbrella hat is generally attributed to an eccentric named Robert W. Patten, who lived in Seattle from 1890 to 1910. Patten was somewhat of a local celebrity, and was known to regale Seattleites with largely apocryphal tales of his life — like how he'd been a Civil War hero put on special assignment by Abe Lincoln and Ulysses S. Grant. As for the umbrella hat, he claimed that he invented it while prospecting in Mexico, but whether that's true is impossible to say. Undermining his claim is a patent for an umbrella hat by S.N. Campbell from 1855, though it's certainly possible that Patten had the same idea on his own.
The hats remained pretty lame for the next decades, but then something changed.
However, for one, brief, shining moment, umbrella hats were actually en vogue. As hard as that may be to swallow, from about 1976 to the early 1980s, St. Louis Cardinals left fielder Lou Brock actually succeeded where Robert Patten had failed. Beginning sometime in the mid-1970s, Brock not only began wearing an umbrella hat, but selling a line of them that he called the "Brockabrella." In an interview, Brock claimed that he saw a fan wearing an umbrella hat once and thought it would be a great thing to wear specifically when the Cardinals played the Cubs at Wrigley Field, where fans would often throw beer on the opposing team.
Read more at Mel Magazine.