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Hatless Jack

3.66  ·  Rating details ·  76 Ratings  ·  14 Reviews
Boaters, derbies, fedoras: until just a generation or two ago, a man's social status, if not his very masculinity, was defined by his hat. For centuries, men owned hats for all seasons and occasions. But in the 1960s, the male hat became obsolete. Just as women shed their white gloves for the sexual revolution, men cast aside centuries of tradition and stopped wearing hats ...more
Paperback, 342 pages
Published November 30th 2004 by Plume (first published 2004)
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Brian DiMattia
Feb 08, 2010 rated it really liked it
Very good, but slightly frustrating. Steinberg has written a great book about the death of hat wearing in American society, but gets very confused on the reasons for it.

Overall, this was a very entertaining book! It's well paced, easy to follow, light (but still informative) and enjoyable. Steinberg paints a vivid picture of the social expectations men used to be under regarding their attire and seasonal hat choices. He branches off to discuss related topics like the advent of hat-check girls, t
Fraser Sherman
Jul 29, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
Steinberg uses JFK's legendary distaste for hats (though he wore them more than people credit him with) as the linchpin for a look at hats as metaphor, symbol (there was a time that someone rushing out without a hat clearly implied he was not together), tool (some rich men kept all their property deeds in the hat) and agent of social pressure (men were sometimes assaulted for not wearing hates). Contrary to myth, hats were withering from popular use for years before JFK went without one; Steinbe ...more
Apr 02, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviewed
John F. Kennedy was a president without precedent: the youngest man ever elected to the Oval Office, the first to be born in the twentieth century, and the first president-elect to become a father. Right from the start it was clear this was going to be a very different presidency.

And, for the most part, it was a bareheaded one. In striking contrast to his predecessors, JFK was rarely seen in any kind of headwear. It’s perhaps for this reason that Kennedy has been blamed for ending America’s lon
Nov 12, 2016 rated it liked it
I had no idea the demise of the formal hat was blamed on Kennedy. Even though the trend toward hatlessness had been taking place for decades prior. I guess the tradition of blaming presidents for most of our societal ills has always been the case. Interesting historical read on fashion and the presidency.
Rogue Reader
May 30, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: textiles, history-us
Hatless Jack is an almost comical eulogy to the hat - walking through the this history of the hat and the shifts of fashion that left the hat behind. Once a mandatory feature of men's dress no matter the class or wealth of the wearer, a man without a hat was more than hatless, he was the object of derision. And while JFK is said to be the nexus of the decline of the hat, the hat was long passé before JFK. Fezzes, top hats, hat check girls and more than you'd ever believe, all about the hat. The ...more
Jan 25, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
This is quite a trip through the past century or more of men's hat wearing. Steinberg has done an admiral job tracking down references to the ubiquitous hat, something that is not easy. (When something is everywhere, no one ever thinks to mention it. I learned this when researching the history of the card catalog.) His argument starts to get a little muddy towards the end, but he does manage to argue well that hats died off as a consequence of the cultural changes that made individualism the nor ...more
Oct 31, 2009 rated it really liked it
I read this several years ago - it's an interesting look at the changes in society that went along with men no longer wearing hats. Perhaps "thought provoking" is too strong but the writing is engaging and the anecdotes and examples flow well. Kennedy is at the center but it isn't much about Kennedy, really, but post-WW II America.
Gary Daly
Aug 13, 2014 rated it liked it
I'd long been piqued by why and when men had stopped wearing hats as an essential part of their daily attire. This book goes a long way to explaining it. While I enjoyed it and learned a lot I do feel the author could have injected more humour into the history of hats. He also over-emphasizes the role JFK plays in the story but all in all, a good read.
Joshua Lucas
Jun 19, 2012 rated it really liked it
A strangely satisfying companion to "Mad Men."

"Hatless Jack" parses our national affair with haberdashery from colonial times forward, and builds to its sudden and culturally signal end in the early 1960s. Steinberg is always fun to read, and here he manages to pull off being insightful, too. A brisk, thoughtful read in the vein of Sarah Vowell.
Nick W.
Dec 06, 2010 rated it it was ok
This was just OK. All about hats and their role in American style. Also tries to tie in Kennedy's contribution to the decline of hat wearing. Interesting if you're really into hats, but probably not interesting to the average reader
Feb 10, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: history, pop-culture
Light reading for the beach, this book studies the 20th century history of men's hats. It looks into the question, is it myth or fiction that Kennedy's not wearing a hat at his inauguration made them unfashionable? Yet he DID wear an inaugural hat. Hmmm...
Dec 22, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
An excellent read for you fashionistas. It looks at the slow but clear way trends (particularly fashion) develop and change, with the decline of male headgear as the main focus.
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Unfocused but full of great anecdotes and (sourced!) quotes.
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Goodreads Librari...: Incorrect Page Count for ISBN 0452285232 2 11 Oct 21, 2013 05:28PM  
Neil Steinberg is a columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times, where he has been on staff since 1987.
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