The 1940s in the U.S. saw the end of the Great Depression, the beginning and end of World War II, and the beginning of the post-war economic and population boom. Men's wardrobes would include formal, casual, functional and military styles, and hats were a regular part of their attire up until the '60s.
Caps were popular in two circles, young men and golfers. The traditional cap was worn with the brim forward as the topper to golfing outfits, which were originally made popular in the '20s. Caps were also worn by newsboys or any young boy, frequently with the brim tilted to the side. Caps were not worn backwards in the U.S. until the beatnik movement of the '50s.
A large portion of the American male population served in the military in World War II and many of them wore their uniforms when on leave. Even after the war, many former soldiers would wear their uniforms to national celebrations such as July 4th parades. Navy men wore sailor's caps; the infantry and Marines wore caps that went from the front to the back of the head in a oval shape at the brim with sharp folds at the top; and Air Force soldiers wore aviator hats.
In warmer climates such as the deep south and the southwest, straw hats were popular throughout the '40s. The functional hat protected the head and face from heat and sun. The hat was also popular in summertime in colder climates of the north. The straw hat was round with a wide brim. A decorative band usually wrapped around the bottom of the hat at the brim to allow for an element of personalisation.
The most popular hat in the '40s in the U.S. was the fedora. Although romanticised in motion pictures as the flashy hat that accompanied the Zoot Suit, the fedora was a staple for most American men in the '30s, '40s and '50s. It was made of felt and had a medium or wide brim that could be flipped up or down as well as a decorative band wrapped around the crown of the brim. A frequent look in a fedora was a small feather tucked in the decorative band. Fedoras were worn straight on the head for formal or business looks and tipped a little to the side for less casual occasions. Most men wore hats with suits whether they were on the way to work, dinner or church. It wasn't until the 1960 election of John F. Kennedy that hats fell from favour. Kennedy famously declined to wear a hat at his inaugural, ending an era when a generation of men always wore them.
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