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Tip ‘o The Karacul for Karzai


If there’s been any good to come from our War on Terror, it’s the revelation of Hamid Karzai’s snappy chapeau.
Described by the BBC as “Well educated, Westernised and stylish,” President Karzai’s ubiquitous woolen karacul is doing for Afghani haberdashery what Harry S Truman’s ever-present Homberg did for American hatmakers in the 1940s.
Every time I see Karzai’s cap, I grow a little envious. I’d like to be able to pull off wearing a hat – a dress hat – without looking ridiculous, or without adopting a lid as an obvious affectation. Karzai’s employment of the karacul is elegant. He knows how to shop his wares before the international community, proudly displaying a piece of his country’s unique culture, and not leave his counterparts snickering.
Guys like Libya’s ornately berobed Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, and North Korea’s ridiculously bouffanted Kim Jong Il could take a page from Karzai’s book of fashion.
Like most guys, I wear a ball cap occasionally. If I’m poking around the yard riding my Craftsman lawn tractor, I use my Thomas & Thomas low-profile to keep the Sun off my face, but not interfere with wearing ear protection and my iPod earbuds.
When I’m fishing, I’ll either wear the T&T cap, or a goofy-looking bucket that seems to provide me with a little more shade. I can’t be bothered to wear sunscreen, so my wife thought the bucket had might help stave off the onset of skin cancer, which is prevalent in my family.
As a kid, I owned a gigantic, yellow foam cowboy hat. They were popular in the late ‘70s/early ‘80s, when foam novelty technology seemed to reach its apex, but even at a time when the denim suit was all the rage, you’d not get away with an oversized foam hat in polite company.
Once, I even owned a novelty yarmulke that I bought in Jerusalem during an Israeli port call while cruising the Mediterranean on board the USS Coral Sea. It had red and white panels and was emblazoned with an ornate cross and the inscription “Holy Land.”
But I digress.
Karzai gives me hope that there may come a day when men can walk the streets in hats and not look out of place. It’s a comforting thought, especially when it wasn’t too long ago that Jack Abramoff’s fedora scared me off of hats almost completely. The taut raincoat didn’t help the hat’s cause.
Hats need a champion, someone who can inspire the world and touch off a hat-wearing renaissance, and Karzai’s the leading contender. The stakes are especially high for my generation, as many of us still bear the scars from one too many Saturday morning’s watching Lidsville, salved only by the presence of Charles Nelson Reilly. The appearance of a new breed of Huggy Bear-type pimp wannabees isn’t helping matters any, either, but a guy of Karzai’s international respect and stature just might do the trick.
I wonder how I’d look in a karacul?

Share  Posted by Mike Spinney at 7:36 PM | Permalink

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