I have a confession, and the weather-shamers out there aren’t going to like it, have maybe already rolled their eyes at it. It concerns beanies. Specifically, the way I wear mine if and when the temperature calls for one. ARE YOU READY? I’m nervous. Okay, here goes: I wear it folded up, above my ears, perched atop my head like a dollop of Daisy. Are you mad? Am I paranoid? It is a well-documented fact that this can look pretty dumb, if not completely inappropriate, and I understand if you think less of me. And yet I like it anyway, and even prefer it to the far more reasonable way of wearing a beanie, which is pulled over your ears like… well, like a beanie.
I’m pretty sure this is my ex’s dad’s fault. He used to pull his beanie so far down his face that I couldn’t even see his eyebrows when he patronized me. Now I want the opposite of that. Or maybe my affection is a response to my favorite hype brand Aimé Leon Dore pushing the above-ear beanie hard this season.
(I like him and I also want to be him.) (Same goes for her.)
But then I’ve preferred this route for longer than that, even before Daniel Day-Lewis started trotting around a crisp New York ears out last December, although I cite him as inspiration, too. And I was certainly a fan before Harling wrote her take-down of the trend last winter. Although I should clarify that she was talking specifically about fisherman beanies—the kind that sit close to the head like unfurled condoms—whereas I’m talking about your more standard beanie, slightly-but-not-too propped up. Either way, I told her I disagreed from pitch to publish, then had to remind myself that Man Repeller isn’t a fascist website and respects opposing ideas.
To be fair, this preference *does* bring shame upon me and my family. Even if just by my own account. Since I moved to New York, I’ve become much more in tune with the idea that clothes serve a utilitarian purpose. In the Bay Area, checking the weather was more of a formality than a requirement for getting dressed. But in New York it’s the most important part of getting ready and planning your life; the central principle around which the culture is organized. I quickly learned that no one here wears boots in the summer, for instance. Because why would they? Boots aren’t necessary in the summer. The first time I wore a scarf for a reason was three years ago. I actually needed a scarf. My neck, specifically, was cold. It blew my little California mind.
I like it this way. I like that no one in New York wears flannels or beanies in the summer; it seems poseur-ish to me now, too. In that sense my style has never been more firmly rooted in its utility, and something about that makes me feel like fucking Thoreau. Like I do things for a reason. Like I’m balancing groceries on my hip as I get my mail out of the mailbox. It’s civilized!
And yet, the above-ear beanie—known by some as the visual warning of a fuck boy—betrays this sensibility. I just think it looks better. Cooler. Fresher. Cuter! It shows your face more, and your ears. Marvin Gay wore his hat like that! And in our defense, beanies don’t only exist to keep your ears warm. I’m reminded of that regularly on the train, when my whole body feels like it’s on fire because I forgot to take mine off after boarding. The above-ear beanie is also good for chilly weather that isn’t yet freezing; it’s a partial commitment to warmth. But then, of course, there are times when my ears are so cold I have to break policy and pull my beanie down. That’s when I have to laugh at myself, admit I’m not above loving something simply because it’s “cool,” then pull my hat back up as soon as I’m inside.
If you think that’s stupid, I totally understand, and in return, I request you just let us have this one.
Feature Photos via Aimé Leon Dore.