The wearing of hats is a serious business. The American tradition of switching from felt to straw hats for summer, i.e. between Memorial Day and Labor Day, and then back again, was once taken so seriously that in September 1922 there were riots in Manhattan when sartorially zealous teenagers (!) went round knocking the straw hats off men who had yet to make the seasonal switch back to felt hats. Happily things are more relaxed these days, but it still makes sense to wear a straw hat in the heat, when it will provide the sun protection for which it was invented.
For this reason we were intrigued when one of the most notable style details that we spotted on our recent trip to LA was a nascent resurgence in the popularity of the straw hat. Hats have, largely, been out of fashion for 50 years; the great decline in their popularity has been traced back to President Kennedy's 1963 inauguration, when he controversially avoided appearing in the top hat that was traditionally worn to the event. In reality, President Kennedy communicated rather than caused the decline of hat wearing. For a variety of reasons, which are set out in Mr Neil Steinberg's excellent 2004 book Hatless Jack, headwear went from being an essential part of a man's outfit to an eccentric affectation within a generation.
For stylish men, however, the hat never went away. From author Mr Tom Wolfe to actor Mr Johnny Depp via British jazz musician Mr George Melly, creative guys seem drawn to wearing hats. It's a tradition continued by musicians like Mr Bruno Mars and K'Naan, and actors like Mr Brad Pitt. The easiest way to wear a straw hat is to follow the example of the Angelenos whose style we admired, and choose a hat with a small brim, possibly in black straw. However, if you do like the classic Panama style, give the look some attitude by wearing the hat with a tilt.
Spotted at coachella
It's easy to get the right size by measuring
your own head:
Take a soft tape measure and wrap it around your head, positioning it mid-forehead and just above the ears. Make sure it's in a straight line and is neither tight nor loose. Record the measurement in inches or centimeters and order with confidence.
Mobile food trucks serving gourmet food are the latest trend in LA dining. But you'll have to find their location on Twitter first. Who knew 140 characters could lead to such culinary delight?
We recommend: Buttermilk's red velvet chocolate-chip pancakes with cream cheese icing.
Find on twitter at www.twitter.com/ButtermilkTruck
Nestled in the underbelly of the Beverly Hills Hotel and decorated like a page ripped out of a 1950s House & Garden, the Fountain Coffee Room serves the best milkshakes and floats in LA.
We recommend: The Strawberry Malt. The Beverly Hills Hotel at 9641 Sunset Boulevard, Beverly Hills, CA 90210.
Further details at www.beverlyhillshotel.com/the-fountain-coffee-room
Push through the crowds and you'll find not only a fantastic brunch restaurant, but also the most delicious (and unusual) selection of French pastries in the city.
We recommend: The neon yellow caramel éclair. Find at 700 South Grand Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90017.
Further details at www.bottegalouie.com
Frequented by film stars and students, Diddy Riese serves the city's best ice cream sandwiches. With 10 varieties of fresh-baked cookies and 12 ice cream flavours, your combination decision can be tough.
We recommend: White chocolate macadamia top cookie, double chocolate chip bottom cookie filled with rocky road ice cream. Find at 926 Broxton Avenue, Westwood, CA 90024.
Further details at www.diddyriese.com
Favoured by Mr Gordon Ramsey, this Californian institution is famed for the quality of its fast food. While the menu appears simple, there is an extensive secret menu that can be found after a quick Google search.
We recommend: A "Double-Double" (two patties and two slices of cheese) and "Animal Style" fries (an extra patty, pickles, cheese, spread and grilled onions diced up and placed on top). Multiple locations around LA.
Further details at www.in-n-out.com