Is Your Smart Hat A Good Idea?: A Gentle Suggestion To The Sorely Tempted : Monkey See The fedora makes many appearances during festive times of year. But is it wise?
NPR logo Is Your Smart Hat A Good Idea?: A Gentle Suggestion To The Sorely Tempted

Is Your Smart Hat A Good Idea?: A Gentle Suggestion To The Sorely Tempted

Justin Bieber will appear on A Home For The Holidays With Martina McBride, airing tonight on CBS. Monty Brinton/CBS hide caption

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Monty Brinton/CBS

During the holiday season, it's very tempting to put on your best attire and deck yourself out for whatever holly-bedecked event has come your way.

For example: This young man, whose name is Justin Bieber, is appearing tonight on CBS's A Home For The Holidays With Martina McBride, where he has decided to wear his very best red pants, denim jacket, and fedora. This is a bit like wearing a clown suit with a cummerbund, unfortunately. The fedora says, "Welcome to the Starlight Lounge." Everything else says, "I got a C-minus. My mom is going to kill me."

The fedora [or, as has been pointed out to me, other smart hat], properly deployed, says cool. It says suave. It says look at me, I'm emotionally unavailable, but in a good way.

Actor Humphrey Bogart is shown in a Warner Bros. publicity photo from about 1941. Warner Brothers/AP hide caption

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Warner Brothers/AP

Actor Humphrey Bogart is shown in a Warner Bros. publicity photo from about 1941.

Warner Brothers/AP

Unfortunately, the smart hat is too often deployed to say look at me, I didn't have time to wash my shirt, but that doesn't mean I'm not pretty much the guy "Puttin' On The Ritz" is about.

Jason Mraz arrives at Stand Up For Cancer at The Kodak Theatre on September 5, 2008. Kevin Winter/Getty Images hide caption

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Jason Mraz arrives at Stand Up For Cancer at The Kodak Theatre on September 5, 2008.

Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Rubbin' elbows!

So how can you tell if your hat is a good idea? Imagine someone you love — your sister, brother, best friend. And think, "If someone wearing this particular hat in the manner that I am wearing it were to make a romantic advance to this someone I love, would I conclude that there was a jackpot to be had, or would I conclude that questionable forces of possible jerkitude had invaded and needed repelling?

As a general matter, the smart hat will work as long as it is one element of being dressed up. You don't actually have to be from decades past. When you're still communicating that you deeply, truly care about your coolness and your hotness simultaneously, you can find success.

Singer/songwriter Ne-Yo arrives to celebrate his birthday at the Tryst nightclub early October 15, 2010 in Las Vegas, Nevada. This is a man who can wear a smart hat. David Becker/Getty Images hide caption

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Singer/songwriter Ne-Yo arrives to celebrate his birthday at the Tryst nightclub early October 15, 2010 in Las Vegas, Nevada. This is a man who can wear a smart hat.

David Becker/Getty Images