We take something gritty and hip—rap, Harlem, Chris Rock— and suck its soul dry until the remaining corpse is as pale as suburban Salt Lake City. The latest slice of fly life to be crackered? Call it whatever you like—skully, beanie, ski hat. All we see is a high-price hairnet. The worst offenders are the Sherpa set, who insist on wearing wool caps. Indoors. In the middle of summer. Hey, Nanook, this is SoHo, not Siberia. So unless your name is The Edge (or youíre pointing your prayer rug to Mecca), youíre gonna want to take that doily off your noggin. Immediately.
In the days of Marvin Gaye and Miles Davis, shaggy, hand-knit caps advertised a groovy bit of bohemian flair. These hats were symbolic: genius just barely tamed; a wild man making himself presentable.
Now who wears them? Every celebri-bot with a BlackBerry and porcelain veneers whoís itching for a little grit. Straight outta Silverlake, crazy muthafucka named Timberlake. Yeah, right. Hey, Justin, havenít you heard? Your ghetto pass has been revoked. And Ashton, we know youíve been pussy-whipped into Kabbalah, but thatís no yarmulke. Enrique wears a crocheted model that would be more at home underneath Grandmawís candy dish. And if Colin Farrell spent as much time wrapping the head in his pants as the one on his shoulders, he might not be shelling out child support.
"Basically, anyone who was ever in the Mickey Mouse Club is now walking around dressed as if theyíre a gangsta rapper from South Central," says style arbiter and author Simon Doonan. "Itís a desperate attempt to have street cred and avoid being perceived as a cheesy entertainer."
But still they come, ready to skulk to the next premiere—or knock over the local Git-n-Split. Singer-songwriter Gavin DeGraw (the voice of One Tree Hill) says his allegiance to the head ornament is purely cosmetic. "I think you look more handsome with it," he explains. "It borders your face and eyes.You can choose whatever color is proper for your skin tone. From artists to bank robbers, itís pretty universal." DeGraw pulls it off better than most. But until he set me straight, I assumed he was bald, or at least suffering from a little deforestation. Wear the shag rag too often and it looks like a not-so-stealthy way of ushering in those new plugs.
"I suppose itís good for people who donít have hair and want to hide the fact," says Michael Bragg, director of communications for natty clothier Thomas Pink. "But what happens when you walk into a restaurant? I mean, proper manners say you have to take off your hat."
Listen, you really want to cover your head with something nice? Get a haircut. If heredity has denied you that option, invest in a razor and a little Turtle Wax. Bruce Willis has been losing real estate since Die Hard, but even at 50 he can still find himself tongue-bathing Lindsay Lohan. (At least, thatís what weíd like to believe.) And where is her ex, Wilmer Valderrama, the Poncherello look-alike with a laughable affinity for the brain cozy?