The great American boy man might be in trouble. American men see themselves as large boys. We have ever since the Who decided they would rather die than get old and then of course they got old. It is the DNA of our national culture that American men have the enthusiasm of boys and somewhere we took their clothes as well. But the counterculture was sold in the Gap and Target and Kohls in the form of loose fitting jeans and shorts and T shirts and tennis shoes for all. Boy apparel jumped permanently in to men apparel as our rockers hit sixty and beyond and still sported t shirts and high top tennis shoes.
So we threw off our button down shirts and donned our RUSH and Aerosmith T shirts and baggy shorts and Nike's and became boys again who drove around in Lexus's and Navigators. Middleaged men with their kids looked like their kids with the tenting shirts that hid middleage sprawl. Take a couple of Ray Bans for the ride and you could even pretend it was 1985 all over again. Although people were better dressed in 1985...it seems American men fashion stopped somewhere between Grunge and a sort of REO Speedwagon attire.
Now the Fedora returns. It is popping up in the major cities on men and women but it is definitely a male fashion statement. So now what. Will we all be Humphrey Bogart in our T shirts and tennis shoes with our fedoras? Doubt it. The T shirt will have to go. A collar shirt or something that is a little more stylish than wearing a tent will have to supplant our return to Stand By Me fashion. Maybe men will start to dress like men again and let their sons keep their T shirts and shorts. I suppose women would have to start to dress like women again and jeans might start to go back to farmers. Now we are onto something.
William Hazelgrove is the Hemingway writer in residence for the Ernest Hemingway Foundation. He has written four novels, reviews and features for USA TODAY and been the subject of stories in the NY Times, LA Times, Chicago Tribune, USA Today, and NPR'S All Things Considered. His forthcoming novel is Rocket Man. More information can be gathered at www.billhazelgrove.com