I was going to mention this three weeks ago, when Margaret and I went down to Worthing for Josh Delia’s ordination to the diaconate. ‘This’, that is, that as we waited at Victoria for our train to the south, a man approached us and thanked me for wearing a homburg. He noted the rarity of seeing somebody dressed seriously (not fully formally, not casually, but for the serious work of business), and wished that my example might inspire others to resume the wearing of hats.
(Be it noted that a fair number of people do wear flat caps — ‘bunnets’, in Scotland — and it’s not uncommon for various constituencies of da yoof to wear fedoras or pork pies, to the unfortunate extent that they sometimes function metonymously for hipsters or gamergaters. To this I can only say that I was wearing a fedora to my Student United Nations meetings fifty years ago, at a point when hipsters would have been wearing berets, popping their fingers, and playing bongos, so I will have been resolutely and consistently out of step with fashion for longer than today’s hipsters and their antithetical despisers have been alive.)
The very next day, one of our first-year students stopped me to say how much he, in turn, appreciated seeing me wear my homburg. And in the interval till this morning, a number of other bystanders, clerks, and colleagues have complimented it. So let this be a lessson to you who read: if you persist in an affectation long enough, in the very teeth of what right-thinking fashionistas deplore, then sooner or later you may become noteworthy as a sort of cultural monument — which may be better than not being noticed at all.