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That darn hat!

It's hard to walk a block without tripping over someone wearing a stingy brim fedora.

June 22, 2008|Adam Tschorn | Times Staff Writer

STINGY IS in -- and it has nothing to do with the economy. The stingy brim fedora, the narrower-brimmed brother of the hat made famous by the likes of Frank Sinatra and Indiana Jones, has been gaining popularity for the last year, especially among the cool-cat actor/musician/baby-daddy set. But nothing prepared us for the hat-pidemic that is currently sweeping the Southland.

We spotted four of them scattered through Osteria Mozza on a recent Saturday night, where they were worn throughout dinner. (Paging Emily Post: As a cub, the Scout was taught to doff his cap indoors and at the dinner table.) A week later, a pair of stingy-brimmed DJs were spinning tunes on the Thompson hotel's new rooftop bar in Beverly Hills, the same day Star magazine's cover served up Brad Pitt and Joel Madden sporting shorty brims. On Father's Day weekend, there were too many to be counted roaming the streets of Silver Lake, Santa Monica and points between.

The most popular versions are straw or lightweight plaids and madras, with a brim that extends less than 2 inches from the crown. They're worn either as a snap brim (with the back of the brim up and the front of the brim down) or flipped brim (turned up all the way around). Whereas the classic fedora is worn pulled down over the eyes, almost like a disguise, the stingy brim is too trimmed to lend any air of mystery -- or much sun protection. Witness the squinting and sunglassed menfolk on this page.

Nonetheless, Ben Goorin, president of San Francisco-based Goorin Brothers, a hat maker since 1895, cites Southern California as the source and the center of stingy brim mania -- all the way back to the Hollywood of the '50s and '60s. "We've been selling a ton of shorties this year," he says. "I think the weather has a lot to do with it -- the sun, the beach, the lifestyle."

But if you're beginning to have your fill of the stingy brim, there's a new piece of headwear on the horizon.

"The next evolution is going to be to the porkpie hat," he says.

It's a similar shape, but with a round, flat top. See Gene Hackman in "The French Connection," Duckie in "Pretty in Pink" or musician Pete Doherty in trouble.


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