So you wanna be a jazz musician? You need a proper hat, and that hat is the porkpie. Similar to a fedora or a trilby, the porkpie hat feature a flat top, an indent all around the crown rather than the pinched look, and a short upturned brim. Commonly made of either felt or straw and sometimes leather, the porkpie hat came into being in the mid 1900's. It was the hat of choice amongst American officers and enlisted men alike during the civil war.
It entered the world of pop culture with the Jazz and Blues movement. You couldn't be a jazz or blues man without a porkpie hat. There are even songs written specifically about the porkpie hat. Charles Mingus' "Goodbye Porkpie Hat" being one of many. It follows that ska musicians would also wear porkpie hats as their music grew out of the jazz and blues genres. The reggae and rude boy movement in Jamiaca also identified with the porkpie hat.
Some notable figures in pop culture associated with the porkpie hat are:
Robert Oppenheimer (the atomic bomb)
Popeye Doyle (the French connection)
Buster Keaton (silent film star)
Yogi Bear (He steals pik a nik baskets in Jellystone)
Huckle Berry Hound (he's really blue)
Tom Waits (musician)
Johnny Depp (Remember Benny and Joon?)
Clete Purcel (of the Dave Robicheaux novels)
So what does a porkpie hat say about you? Well, it says you're edgy and of course stylish. You don't follow the crowd. You're a little outside the norm and march to the beat of your own drum. It's not as classic as a fedora, but it has just as much history and charm. Wearing a straw porkpie hat with a nice seersucker suit is the epitome of style on a hot summer day.
Like all hats, you want to look for quality. A good hat will last you years, and you can't skimp on so stylish an accessory. Many companies produce a quality product. Some notable modern manufacturers who produce affordable porkpie hats are: Kangol, Bailey of Hollywood, Henschel, and Beaver Creek. A good hat will cost between $25 and $100. As always, you get what you pay for.