Certain styles and clothing combos can only be pulled-off by unique individuals and specific age groups. No one has really made wearing one sequined glove work since Michael Jackson, an Angry Bird t-shirt looks a bit suspect on anyone over 12, few people rock a bandana as well as Johnny Depp and light-blue hair only flies on women over 65.
While boarding a recent flight from Vancouver to Hong Kong I smiled at a distinguished-looking Asian man of about 75-years. He smiled back, likely having no idea why, beyond being friendly, I was smiling. It was the uniquely-older-man ensemble he was sporting that made me grin: the suit-and-ball-cap-combo.
For years I’ve noticed that male seniors love to wear a proper suit with not a Fedora, not a Pork Pie, or even a Panama, but a ball cap, something that’s usually worn with very casual wear. I don’t think most men would dream of putting these two items together, but somehow older men not only seem to love this ensemble, but wear it well. No one bats an eye, but I suspect if a 40-year-old (like myself) tried, they’d get a few odd looks and certainly not any ‘Likes’ on their Facebook page.
Semi-formal hats have become all the rage over the last few years, especially with hipsters. Could ball caps with suits be next? Doubtful, unless Mad Men has an episode set 30-years in the future with a much older Don Draper taking a trans-continental flight. Formal hats look great and a man wouldn’t dream of going out of the house without one in the 1950s, but come the 1970s they faded, leaving only a casual occasion and the ball cap as a common hat of choice. And THE choice it is for some older gentlemen while sporting a suit.
Another element about this curious fashion combo is that it’s usually worn when taking a long flight. This is where I may have cracked how the two come together. Few accessories are as comfortable and comforting as one’s favorite ball cap. No worrying about how your hair looks, or if you even have hair for that matter. Need some darkness while sleeping – pull the brim over your eyes. Now to the suit. Air travel is commonplace for today’s generation but for older travelers it was a major technological advancement during their lifetime and a formal occasion for the first couple decades it was accessible to the masses. You didn’t wear shorts or denim jeans when flying in the 1950s, you dressed-up and made sure you looked good. This was a time to see and be seen.
With a couple decades to go until I’ll be of suit-and-ball-cap-combo age, for now I’ll have to admire the panache of those who can get away with it, take some notes on how they pull it off and hope I can rock it half as well when I’m in their shoes (or suit and ball cap).