You're not an idiot, and you're probably old enough and wise enough now to know that the world is full of idiots. Overflowing, you could say. But sometimes sifting your garden variety dickheads from your atomic C-bombs can be tough. Luckily, evolution has been kind and, via a strange glitch that has been exaggerated through the generations, it has given us a means of identifying the really reprehensible douchebags – just look at what they're wearing on their heads.
Obviously all hats are stupid, but just as you wouldn't want to punish a student halls weed dealer for the crimes of a man who can't stop setting orphanages on fire, it's important to treat specific types of headwear with just the right amount of derision. There are varying degrees of hat wanker and I'm here to help you identify them with this handy spotter's guide.
Let's start with the big fish. Nothing makes my heart feel more like clearing its desk than the sight of a trilby. For reasons known only to university town perverts, trilby wearers think their brimmed turds lend them an air of Rat Pack mystery, as if they were bought with dirty money from an old, servile milliner who doesn't ask questions. But if the Rat Pack were alive today, they wouldn't be seen dead in trilibies. In fact, they'd probably get their henchmen to beat up anyone who wore a trilby in their presence for making them feel like they were part of a lesbian hen night. (I don't have anything against lesbians, btw, but the Rat Pack were from a different time.)
If you yourself are a trilby wearer, you probably also regard breaking into schoolboy French mid-sentence as nature's very own Rohypnol. In the world of hats, the only thing worse than a trilby is a white trilby, a trilby with pinstripes, or a trilby worn at a "rakish" angle. If you ever see anyone combining all three of these elements out at the club, by all means give them both barrels, just don't leave your pint unattended when you go for a piss.
HAT WANKER RATING: 5/5 – the alpha male of hat wankers.
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet, and a trilby in any other fabric still makes you a prick. The only redeeming quality of the boater is that straw is remarkably flammable. Worn exclusively by Oxbridgers who only got into the drinking society because their gran paid for a new library, and satellite town Jack the Lads who get jacked every time they're not out with the lads. Oh, and Olly Murs, the shit-box messiah of the boater scene – a man whose V Festival main stage slot must have been a spiritual homecoming on par with Malcolm X's visit to Mecca.
HAT WANKER RATING: 3.5/5 – the straw that made the camel puke.
Beanies are weird ones, aren't they? They're also fucking everywhere, generally worn in one of two ways – either in the Craig David style, where it's wrapped right down over the ears like a brain condom. Or in the East 17 style, where it's balanced precariously at a weird angle and still looks like a condom, but an ill-fitting one that's been twisted on hastily in a botched car fuck. Why would you wear your hat at an angle that makes your roots sweaty but your ears cold?
I don't know if your mother ever told you this, but when your hair sweats too much, it falls out. Combine the current lust for lactic follicle acid with other youth culture tropes, and it seems like Tumblr's inadvertently raising a generation of girls who'll grow up to have freakishly over-developed cheek muscles and male pattern baldness. It's similar to the Thalidomide thing, but with more Palace shirts.
The real problem with beanies is that they're the gateway to a myriad of other sins: camo jackets, creepers, veterbrae jewellery, alpine sports, goatees – they're the start of the virus, basically. It's as if they warm people's brains to a temperature at which they're only capable of making bad decisions. Before you know it, you're David Beckham, the most eligible bachelor in the world, walking around waving at people with a cow's vagina hanging off the back of your head.
HAT WANKER RATING: 2.5/5 – up for negotiation (if you live in the Arctic).
Stop trying to cling onto the last vestiges of your rapidly dwindling youth – nothing screams "post-18 parental allowance" louder than a 20-something "kid" who really, really cares about streetwear brands.
Fall outside that age range and you're either the guy at the house party discussing Squadda Bambino's flow and strains of "haze" in the kitchen, or the cool uncle who slips away at family barbecues to smoke haze because nobody wants to talk about Squadda Bambino's flow.
HAT WANKER RATING: 4/5 – "There are fewer more distressing sights than that of an English man in a baseball cap." – Johnny Borrell, circa 2006. I think?
THOSE FLOPPY-EARED HATS I DON'T KNOW THE NAME OF
Just kidding! No one wears these any more; it's 2013. Except in Bristol, where CD-Rs of Kidulthood are being passed excitedly around college campuses and N-Dubz are still the Lickle Rinsers Crew.
HAT-WANKER RATING: 1/5 – these guys get enough hassle in the street, they don't need to come home in the evening to find us heckling them on the internet, too.
Initially, I didn't really understand these hats. They belong almost exclusively to those super twee vintage girls, so I just presumed that pinning bits of flower to your hat was the new dreamcatcher necklace – something I was too busy sleeping and wearing trousers to bother to understand. But no, it transpires these are actual, proper hats, so on to the list they go.
If you're into your Virginia Woolf swag, maybe take a look at your life. Then maybe take a match to your collection of cloches, tea dresses, doilies, porcelain dogs and other tired 50s memorabilia. The sooner you do it, the sooner you can leave behind all those people you pretend you're friends with. Those people who berate you for buying a pre-made sandwich or owning a phone that you don't have to rotary dial. Those people who would be alone in the world if it wasn't for your misguided kindness.
HAT WANKER RATING: 3.5/5 –you are all so fucking dull. You remind me of old people's homes.
HATS WITH ANIMAL EARS ON
Hey, precious snowflake, know what sort of people you're gonna attract? People who want to fuck animals.
HAT WANKER RATING: 4.8/5 – bestiality's not my vibe.
I'd like to think that 30 minutes after this list goes online the suburbs will be thick with the smoke of burning fedoras, but I know deep down that that's a futile pipe dream. The hat wanker still thrives, regardless of how many people tell them they look like an idiot.
So, trilby-wearers, you take the crown for being the most odious and reprehensible of all the hat wankers. Well done, you greasy bunch of pricks. It's the only accolade you'll ever get.
More things you should probably read if you don't want to look like a prick: