Have you ever seen the famous class sketch from the Frost Report in the 1960s, in which John Cleese and Ronnies Barker and Corbett play upper, middle and working class types? In a satire of the old British class system, each explains which social classes they look up to, and down upon. Much of the visual impact comes from the well-observed dress codes, and a significant element of each code is the choice of hat, as you can see from the still. I suppose like many people I vaguely imagined that the idea of headgear being a signifier of your social tribe seems very old-fashioned, but last night I was browsing the M&S website for holiday clothes, and I was amazed by the sheer number and variety of hats that the company currently offers. The baseball caps alone are enough for a sociology thesis (you still see baseball caps being dismissed wholesale as chavwear, but in my opinion this is wrong - what about, say, all the nubuck-look ones at Twickenham?) but there are many subtle questions raised by the collection. What is the minimum age at which men can wear Panama hats? What kind of ribbon makes a straw trilby trendy, and what kind makes it suitable for the cricket? Would Loft Wingers ever shop at M&S? And is any British class or tribe yet ready for the kepi?
I didn't bother with a hat myself, but would probably have gone for one of those patterned bucket-shaped numbers. I quite fancy the deck shoes though - they look as good as Timberlands but at half the price, which is good news in a credit crunch.