There’s the fedora I wear on Tuesdays at Mel’s. The pork pie that pairs crisply with my seersucker. Then there’s my bowling derby, reserved for Sundays. I know, a little old-fashioned. But we do these things for differentiation.

I’m not talking literal hats. I mean a diversity of skills and talents and roles. Personas I’ve learned to don at the drop of a you-know-what. All cultivated over a lifetime. Manners and modes and missions switched between readily.

Call me a quick-change artist. Call me a Dandy. Call me Ishmael.

They chirp and they chatter, what does it matter? What does it matter to the man with the hats?

I still believe the one who can navigate the world with aplomb is going places, on his own two feet and under his own steam. His heart is cheerful, it’s never fearful. He’s been down on the killing floor.

When tempers flair, maintain your flair. Find your hat. Let it cruise aloft, its aerodynamic crown piercing crowds and commotion. Right up Fifth Avenue, over to Grand Central. To 346 Madison, where you fix your repp tie in the reflection of the showcase. When the sun is just right, you can superimpose the mannequined suit beyond the glass upon your own body, like a paper doll piece.

Henry Sands Brooks, you were a late bloomer. That always gives me hope. From cotton to wool and across two centuries, your legacy lives on. It drapes the man with the hat.

Sometimes, in reverence and devoid of all pretense, the hat comes off. I expose my own crown, I look the other in the eye, naked, as it were. Raw honesty is to be preferred to the hat in some circumstances, even if the hair is brylcreemed.

When the moment of oblation passes, the hat is tossed upon the head. If I were Fred Astaire or Gene Kelly, I might insert a spin before it landed on my pate. But a man must know his limitations. Still, and with my machismo intact, I marshal on to new horizons. Soon enough, I hit my stride, the man with the hats.


ANTHONY ROTOLO is a writer, designer and all-around square peg, upon which he hangs his hats.