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Make Red Hats Wearable Again.

by Kathryn Milewski about a month ago in trends

Time to leave THAT red hat in 2020, and separate normal, innocent red hats from white supremacist insurrection.

I love hats. Big hats. Tiny hats. Knit hats. Hats with a wide brim. Berets and bucket hats. My mother's always told me I look good in them, and her praise encouraged me to start a hat collection from a young age. Name a kind of hat, and I've got it in a bin inside my closet.

Of all the types of headwear in the hat kingdom, I think baseball caps are my favorite. They're easy to take on and off. They can don the logo of your favorite sports team, or be made of denim. They come in all different shapes and sizes. I've got several in my inventory: an SNL cap hanging above my bedroom door, a St. Patty's Day cap I won in a raffle, and a cap with my alma mater on it, which I wore in lieu of a traditional tasseled cap during my Zoom graduation.

My Marymount Manhattan College baseball cap on graduation day. 👩‍🎓 Don’t I look cute? :)

You can get any kind of baseball cap you want - they come in a variety of wonderful patterns and colors! But of all the hues in the rainbow, it seems the red baseball cap lives in infamy these days. It's got a very bad reputation. (Or a good reputation? Depending upon your political beliefs.)

Think about it...when someone says, "red hat" what's the first thing that pops into your head? Maybe it's the second or third thought in your head, but you definitely know what I'm talking about. I typed the phrases, "red hat" and "red baseball cap" into Google Images, and there was a very specific kind of red hat that kept reappearing...

By Aubrey Hicks on Unsplash

Yeah. That one. I'm sure you've seen it around before.

Over the last four years, this particular cap has been a controversial fashion statement. Surely, you don't need me to tell you who or what it represents. While there are pictures of people - mostly white people - wearing these hats at rallies for a certain president who's out of the White House (Ohhhh, it feels so good to say that), the hat has never truly been a fashion staple. Sure, some big names have worn it: Kanye West and Caitlyn Jenner, for example. But it's not like models have strutted down the catwalk wearing the hat, or it's made an appearance at cool kid events like the Met Gala or The Academy Awards.

Since 2016, I've lived in New York City: considered the fashion capital of the United States. And since 2016, I've never seen the infamous red hat worn on NYC's streets. Wearing one in Brooklyn, Queens, or Manhattan would be like wearing a Red Sox hat to a Yankees game. In fact, Dean Balsamini from the New York Post did an experiment where he wore the hat across the city and recorded people's reactions. Locals treated him like a leper. Apparently, even Chris Rock shooed him away.

So we know by New York City's high fashion standards the red, "patriotic" baseball cap is tacky, to say the very least. And in 2020, we learned the man responsible for the hat was elected out of office - therefore making the hat an official fashion faux pas.

So I'm confused. Why are people still wearing it in 2021?

Unless you've been living under a rock, you know that on January 6th, the United States Capitol was stormed by a violent mob of domestic terrorists. They were trying to overturn the results of the election, but failed. Five people died from the chaos.

Insurrectionists storming the Capitol on January 6th, 2021

Unfortunately, these white supremacists thought it was a good idea to wear the ugly red baseball cap while committing a federal crime. You can see a few red hats speckled about in the picture above! I’m also not a fan of the unmasked faces and plethora of plaid flannels.

I understand trying to serve a look with a viking hat when you're part of a white supremacist insurrection. But the red baseball cap with the ironic slogan about making America great? Puh-lease...not only is that paradoxical when you're beating up Capitol officers with American flags, but it's soooooo 2020! The hat will never be mainstream. Like the word "fetch," it's just never going to happen.

I think what saddens me the most about this fashion fiasco is because of the ugly red cap's bad reputation, people are scared to wear normal red caps in public. The other day, I read an A24 interview where actor, Steven Yeun, talked about the red cap he wears in his critically-acclaimed film, Minari. Yeun tried on a bunch of hats, but the red one he wears in the film was the only hat that fit his head. On wearing it, Yeun said...

"I thought, Man, Trump really f—cked up red hats for everybody. Does it say something if I wear this? But it looked the best, so I didn't think much else about it, or make an active choice to make a statement. But while we were filming, I would talk to Isaac about the hat—should I wear my hat now or not? By the time we finished filming, I realized that Jacob wears the hat when he’s consumed by himself and a capitalistic sense of wanting glory. When he’s humbled by losing everything, he doesn’t wear the hat anymore. It was never a lesson for Trumpers; the hat is more like a pair of sunglasses. It's there to shroud the deep fear and pain that pervades the soul of this man."

Steven Yeun wearing a red hat in "Minari"(2020)

I'm happy Steven Yeun found a way to reclaim the red hat for himself, but it's terrible he had to experience so much anxiety just for wearing a topper that looks quite good on him. In 2021, sporting a red hat should not have to be a political statement. Red isn't just the color of capitalism, republicanism, and war...but of love, courage, passion, and health, too.

Therefore, in order to reclaim the innocence of the plain red baseball cap, we must take away the power of the MAGA hat. You may think the solution is cutting off supply to these hats or demeaning people who choose to wear them...but I have a better idea.

As a hat connoisseur, I would love to offer my new strategy on how we can persuade Trumpees to ditch their token red baseball cap and usher in the new age of red hat-wearing freedom.

Introducing...

5 AWESOME ALTERNATIVES TO THE MAGA HAT

Hey Trump supporters! Why wear a plain red hat with an outdated slogan when there are so many cooler alternatives? There aren't any other iconic red hats which support Donald Trump besides the MAGA hat, but does that really matter? He's not the president anymore! It's 2021, which means it's time to update your look and go for a total red hat makeover!

MAGA hats appeal to the masses because of how bold they are. You'll find these five alternatives to be even bolder. Plus, they're fun, comfy, and unlikely to make your fellow Americans give you the stink eye! And if you're in New York City and see Chris Rock while wearing one of these hats, he'll actually want to talk to you!

So without further ado, throw away that unfashionable MAGA hat and start wearing these cooler red hats on your American head.

1. The Santa Hat

Yours truly sporting her beloved childhood Santa hat.

A classic! Sure, most people wear this around December, but why not make every day the most wonderful time of the year? This hat is merry, bright, and bound to fill you up with cheer! And it's very iconic - I once wore a Santa hat for a second grade photo and it helped my stoner face turn into an award-winning meme. Bonus points if you give out gifts while wearing this one. Ho, ho, ho!

2. A Bubba Gump Shrimp Hat

Tom Hanks in "Forrest Gump" (1994)

If Tom Hanks can wear this, so can you! Forrest Gump is an American fable of sorts, so a Bubba Gump Shrimp hat is perfect for those who want to wear a patriotic headpiece without sacrificing the red baseball cap look. Wear it while running across the country! Wear it while musing about your life story to strangers on a bench! Wear it while visiting the Bubba Gump Shrimp restaurant in Times Square!

Also, I guess wearing a Bubba Gump Shrimp hat is technically supporting a Black-owned business? Because while Bubba doesn't make it to the end of the movie, his family still gets his share of the company's profits.

3. The Cat In the Hat's Hat

Oh the thinks you can think while you're dressed as the cat! You'll have so much fun in the cat's striped hat!

This is a great choice for literature geeks and Dr. Seuss lovers. If you read the classic book while wearing it, you'll be red, white, and blue!

4. It's-a Mario Hat!

Why yes, that is eighth grade me dressed up as Mario for a Halloween costume contest. I actually won that costume contest: thus proving Mario hats are for winners.

You don't need to be a plumber from the Mushroom Kingdom to sport this! Grow out your stache and get ready to do some ground pounds as you wear this badass red hat that makes all Italian Americans proud. Nintendo will love you, too. And who knows - it may even help you save a princess.

5. This Thing!

Okay, wait...what the hell is that? Yeah, it’s a statement, for sure. But this is the boldest red hat you can find on the market. Make America Great Again? More like Make America’s Hair Stand Up Straight Again. Cause it looks like yours is.

I call this the mohawk hat. I found it in a little shop while searching the Union Square Christmas Village for a white elephant gift. I think I paid around $70 for it. When the girl who picked my gift saw it, she was like, “Ohhh, um, thanks, haha,” with a big frown. She and her boyfriend left the Christmas party before me, and I found it hidden behind a coffee table. Poor little neglected hat.

C’mon...this hat is far cooler than that QAnon dude’s viking hat, amiright? Why have horns when you can sport cool red yarn for hair! It’s your 1980’s rocker mohawk dream come true. Plus, this knitted masterpiece will keep your head warm on those snowy days. It’s campy in the best way. Lady Gaga could never.

Serving straight up LOOKS.

Yup. That's right. New year, new levels of hat extravagance.

So children, what have we learned today? Like all sucky things, the red MAGA ball cap is best left in 2020. Not only is it...well...a f-cking horrible symbol of white nationalism in America. But in terms of design, there are far better options!

I'm happy to see the fashion fad die. After all, I don't think the fashion magazines - or the history books - will be kind to the infamous red hat in years to come.

And that's the tea on the hat. Now, let's talk about the newest trend I see making an appearance in 2021. Aviator sunglasses...

________________

Thanks for reading! Had fun writing this one. :) If you enjoyed - or if you also agree MAGA hats are a fashion nightmare - please leave a like. Tips are greatly appreciated! Did I miss any iconic red hat alternatives? Let me know via DM @katyisaladybug on Instagram.

Peace and love. Until next time,

- Katy <3

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Kathryn Milewski
Kathryn Milewski
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Kathryn Milewski

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