The Curmudgeon has long been looking forward to the beginning of warmer weather, not only because it‘s ever so much more pleasant, but also because I’ve been patiently waiting all through the cold months to lay into this week’s topic. Now that it’s warm out, at last, I can.
Friends, clothing is a wonderful thing. Wearing it can serve several purposes. There’s modesty, warmth, shade, protection, personal expression, fun, fashion, and admittance to museums and other public venues where they prefer not to see you naked. Naturally, not all of these purposes are served by all garments. Hair bows are cute, but they won’t shade you from the sun. A pith helmet is perfect for going on safari, but it probably won’t get you a better table at a snooty upscale restaurant. A pashmina isn’t the best choice for a swim meet, especially if you’re the one swimming. Some items are simply utilitarian. Others are pure frivolity. Some serve more than one purpose. And all that’s fine . . . except when people get confused. A track suit is a suit for running track, not a fashionable ensemble for performing music before a paying audience.
And that takes us to the subject of wool beanies. Give me a moment while I get my annoyance under control, as I’ve briefly lost the ability to type.
Okay. I’m back. Wool beanies. Wool beanies were designed to keep our heads warm. In that capacity, they do a fine job indeed. No one can fault them there. How, when, and why they came to be thought of as stylish fashion accessories is a question for the ages. Centuries from now, extraterrestrials (the only remaining life forms at that point) will study and debate this in their universities, ultimately finding themselves unsatisfied in their efforts to make any sense of this historical hiccup. Like the legend of the lost city of Atlantis, the phenomenon of ordinary knitted head warmers as fashion statement may always remain a mystery.
Now, I can’t claim to be an expert on fashion—not by a longshot. (My clothing choices need only make me presentable enough to go outside to yell at kids to get off my lawn.) But I’d like to think that there’s some sort of art involved, either in the choice of what to wear, the combining of garments, thoughtful color choices, appealing fabrics, a perfect fit, the way the garments are made—something. Wool caps are just about the least special piece of clothing imaginable. They aren’t bespoke suits, or hand-beaded gowns, or one-of-a-kind masterpieces of apparel. They don’t have the creative sass of high tops with a sundress, or the vintage smartness of a well-folded pocket handkerchief, or the funky personality of a bowler hat with overalls. They aren’t unusual, or retro, or daring, or eye-catching, or even particularly pleasing to look at. They keep your head warm. I will say that again. They keep your head warm. Do I own one? You bet I do. And you know why? Because it keeps my head warm. And for that, it’s just dandy. But when it’s summer, and I see people sporting these mundanely practical things on their heads at a time when they serve no purpose, I feel I must call it out.
You may ask, why does this trouble the Curmudgeon so? Well, friends, it’s simply a matter of wanting order in the world. I want things to make sense. I want logic. When I see hip hop artists wearing their puffy down coats indoors under hot stage lights, I’m compelled to ponder an unsolvable logic puzzle . . . and I’m concerned they might faint under the hot lights. And when I see a “hipster,” clearly feeling quite satisfied with his clever attire, sitting in a sweltering coffee house wearing a toasty warm wool beanie, I spend considerable energy trying to understand his bizarre choice when I could be enjoying my latte.
So, look. I’ve kept quiet all through the winter. But it’s warm now, and thus, it becomes my duty to say this. Winter is over. Take off the head warmers; you look stupid.
Now if I could only bring back the boater. Now that was a stylish hat.