In honor of Millinery and Chapeau night tomorrow, our yearly tribute to hats and hair pieces, I’ve decided to share my latest obsession: Pork Pie hats! I’m sorry if this post is a little more rambling than normal, but I’m too excited to formulate a structure for all of the amazing pork pie-ed-ness in my head right now.
Over winter break, I started reading the Norma Miller memoir, Swingin’ at the Savoy. In the preface by jazz historian, Ernie Smith, Smith delves into fashion, mentioning how pork pie hats were in vogue among jazz and blues musicians, and how dancers adopted the style for themselves. Here’s Louis Armstrong sporting a pork pie and an awful smile:
For those of you who need a quick education in hats:
- Pork Pie — Short crown, with no pinch and an indentation all the way around.
- Fedora — Pinched crown, center crease, wider brim.
- Trilby — Pinched crown, short brim turned up in the back
- Homburg — single crease down the center with no pinched crown.
- Caps (Newsboy/8 panel, flat cap)
There are some additional styles that you can find at the hat store I lust after, Optimo Hats (check out the Dillinger). Based out of Chicago, they make custom men’s hats to order if you have a spare $500 sitting about. (Someday!)
Back to our original story: Pork pie hats are awesome. Musicians used to wear them. Then, the dancers started wearing them. Charles Mingus wrote a song in tribute to Lester Young called “Goodbye Pork Pie Hat.” There’s a great recording of it by Karrin Allyson. Also, Maynard Ferguson recorded a great swing tune called “Pork Pie” that I DJ occasionally. I feel like I’ve walked into this mystical world of pork pie hats. There’s music and fashion, history, culture, style, and happiness. Then, of course, there’s the inspiration for the name, the food itself. I don’t eat pork, but maybe one of you out there will try this pork pie recipe and let me know how it is.