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Fashion tips inspired by the early 1900s, part 2/2

April 30, 2015

At Danny P., we’re all about bridging the gap between age-old crafting tradition and forward-thinking design. In line with that philosophy, we present our weekly Style Throwback series. We take inspiration from the forefathers of menswear and show you how to remix bygone looks to suit up in modern times.

This is Part 2 of a two-part piece on modern style inspirations from the early 1900s.

Last week, we looked at the classic vest and shed some light on how to rework fashion from the early 1900s to dress and impress in the 21st century.

This week, we’ll look at the enduring bowler hat and the indestructible handlebar mustache...

I wish I was a bowler... / The timeless bowler hat

The bowler hat (aka the “derby hat”), which involves a rounded felt top and a firm curved brim, first emerged in the mid-1800s. It was invented in London specifically to protect the heads of gamekeepers at horse races from low-rise branches.

By the early 1900s, the bowler hat was all the rage, donned by people across all social classes and trending from Europe to America and beyond.

Somehow, the bowler hat has managed to remain one of the most relevant hat styles over the years, seen on iconic heads including Charlie Chaplin, Alex from A Clockwork Orange and, of course, Toy Story’s Mr. Potato Head, to mention only a few. Modern interpretations of the bowler hat come in many styles, from the fancy hipster look to a more traditional, gentlemanly fashion.

Bowler hats can't be back. They never left:)

The main point of emphasis when it comes to this classic headgear is quality. Generally speaking, the essential feature of a bowler hat is that it is of decent material such as wool or fur felt (and some nice interior lining can’t hurt).

You really don’t want to look like your bowler hat came free with dinner at a New Years’ Eve celebration. As for color—well, classic black is just about what most people can pull off. Experimenting with color on the bowler is likely to land you in a harlequin-looking mess.

You’ve been warned.

Return of the invincible handlebar

Oh, the handlebar—undoubtedly one of the most iconic facial hairstyles in the history of civilization. It appears the handlebar actually dates all the way back to Iron Age Celts, but it didn’t make its way to the US until the early 1900s.

It became associated with high power and rank, particularly in the military, before evolving into a common style.

And, boy, has the handlebar made a comeback in the past decade! As a visual symbol, it has become one of the most recognizable images in contemporary popular culture. If it’s not being ironically sported by a hipster, then it has surely found itself stenciled on a preteen girl’s lunchbox.

We challenge you to walk into any store and not find at least one item with a handlebar mustache on it. They’re being tattooed on the sides of fingers, imprinted on to every kind of homeware you can think of, embroidered on to shoes and clothes, chained to jewelry, used as edible cake ornaments… the list goes on and on.

We challenge you to walk into any store and not find at least one item with a handlebar mustache on it.

But the most notable tributes to the handlebar era are the real ones, meticulously groomed
in the style of our Edwardian predecessors.

Silly as they may look at first glance, anyone with a handlebar in 2015 deserves at least some praise. It isn’t easy to grow, let alone to maintain, a handlebar. It takes dedication, and, let’s face it, it also takes balls to have something like that on your face.

Though it’s hard to pinpoint how this madness started, at least the return of the handlebar serves to encapsulate modern society’s hankering for nostalgia, and that’s something we can only applaud.

Stay tuned for the next decade of style…