Hats off to Tahoe headgear: Decorative or for warmth, hats are all the rage at the South Shore | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Hats off to Tahoe headgear: Decorative or for warmth, hats are all the rage at the South Shore

Susan Wood

Chad Lundquist / Tahoe Daily Tribune / Cindy Farnes displays her favorite hat, which she says gets a lot of compliments at her Cherry Bombs coffee shop.

To Patricia Lewis, hats top off living in South Lake Tahoe. Lewis collects them – “102 of them,” she said.

Fedoras, buckets, truckers and even beer-can hats, the outfit tops provide warmth, comfort and a sense of style. They can be worn for religion and ritual, authority and status, identity and belonging, fashion and image as well as protection and practicality. Just a sweep of Tahoe ski resorts can give one a glimpse of that reason.

“This one you’ve got to have in Tahoe,” she said, holding up a hat shaped like a bear’s head.

As an American, a Fourth of July hat makes an Independence Day outfit complete. Hers is a red, white and blue velvet helmet.

“This is my Doris Day hat,” she said, trying on a white, pillbox-style hat.

She favors a fluffy white version that looks like something out of movie set in Siberia, but her favorite style involves a Western theme.

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“This is my new look,” she said.

“I wear a hat and feel differently. They bring out something in me,” she said, noting the fashion statement has been lost since the 1940s. “People don’t even get dressed to go to church now.”

Hat collecting must be a family activity for the Lewis clan. Her husband, Bill, has gathered 67 baseball caps. And her son, Eric Sambrano, has gotten in on the act too.

The lost art of wearing hats as a fashion accessory is one Lewis would like to revitalize since the days of the Stetson hat of 1865. The company was started in a small rental space with $100.

Hats help retain body heat, 70 percent of which is lost from the head.

This is an important note for Brian Judge. He folds up his Indiana Jones-style hat to wear on backpacking excursions.

“I got this one from a garage sale,” he said, tipping it. “I love hats.”

Of about a dozen scattered around her house, Cindy Farnes of Cherry Bombs spent $4 at Marshall’s for her favorite. It’s a cherry-colored variety that matches the business signs of her South Shore coffee shop.

Wool or not, warmth is not the reason she wears a hat.

“I get a lot of compliments on it,” she said.

The fashion accessory changes with the seasons.

“I have summer hats, spring hats and winter hats,” she said.

– Susan Wood can be reached at (530) 542-8009 or via e-mail at swood@tahoedailytribune.com