Max DiLallo, CC '06, knows how to spot a trend. Lately, the trend has been Columbia men who wear their wool-knit winter hats indoors.
"It's an increasing phenomenon," DiLallo said. "I think that, like all trends, some people can pull it off and some people look ridiculous."
DiLallo says that indoor winter hat wearing is met with either apathy or chuckles. His reaction? "I give a little scoff," he said. "Unless it's actually cold indoors, it's obvious that [wearing the winter hat indoors] is a statement, it's just for style, it's a fashion thing."
But scoffs have not been enough to quell the growing fad. Enrique Iglesias wears wool hats indoors. So does Eminem.
And Carson Daly had the ingenuity to wear his wool-knit hat during his MTV Super Bowl XXXVII pre-show on Jan. 26, broadcast on a warm day live from San Diego. San Diego's average temperature during the month of January is 58 degrees, according to The Weather Channel--temperate, but definitely not winter hat weather.
Which begs the question: what motivates non-balding young bucks to cover their heads inside neighborhood bars and night spots?
Interviews with various indoor hat-wearers suggest that there are two main reasons.
The first is pragmatism. "I've been directed by my director for the show that I'm in to keep my hair growing," said Forrest Lensing, CC '03, who will play Tranio in the upcoming King's Crown production of Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew. "I guess it started as something to keep me warm when I had no hair, but now that I have hair, it's something to keep my hair hidden from the rest of the world."
"Obviously I'm not going to wear that in the summer," Lensing said. "It's a winter thing."
"You're putting a hat on, and your hair gets messed up and you don't want to take it off," said Ed Yung, CC '04 and creative director of the fashion portion of the Lunar Gala 2K3 fashion show. "Sometimes I don't want to take my hat off."
The second reason behind indoor hat-wearing is crowd culture. Wearing one's wool-knit cap "Enrique-style" has become the latest fashion statement, a spokeswoman for New York's Fashion Institute of Technology said. Students at the Fashion Institute of Technology were unavailable for comment.
A visit to the official Enrique Iglesias web site suggests that the singer deserves to have the style named after him. Several photos show Enrique playing to a crowd of thousands, his legs apart, his hand dramatically in the air, a wool-knit hat covering his head. A quick scan of the various photos shows Iglesias to have at least six winter hats in his sartorial repertoire.
And while Iglesias' biography says that the young artist's "ability to write and produce the coolest, hippest and most romantic pop in the Spanish language" makes him a superstar, it provides no clues as to why he wears wool hats in every climate.
According to DiLallo, however, celebrities have little to do with the trend. "It has something to do with the increase in popularity of sports like snow-boarding and skiing," he said. "I think as they have become more popular, so has the sportswear associated with them."
"I really don't want to be associated with Enrique that much," said Lensing, after he was asked if parroting celebrities was the reason behind his promiscuous hat-wearing. "Eminem, possibly. But I'd like to stay away from both of them."
Indoor winter hat-wearing has even spread to some Columbia women, but one student was shocked when this Spectator reporter asked her why she was wearing a wool-knit cap indoors. "I didn't know I was wearing one until you pointed it out to me," Leilani Mabrey Jackson, CC '04, said.
Mabrey Jackson says that she's noticed the increased hat-wearing during weekend sojourns to local watering holes. "I've seen [guys] wear them, and I've asked them why," she said. "They say that if your head is warm, then the rest of your body will be warm."
Does she consider the hat-wearers attractive? "No," she said. "I think that if you wear the hat indoors, then you're quite slow and you're trying to be cute--but you're not. The hat-wearing has taken on a life of its own."
But acolytes of fashion often put style over sex appeal. The question remains whether Yung would put someone wearing a wool hat indoors in the Lunar Gala 2K3 fashion show.
"Yeah, I would," he said. "I mean, like, I think, you know, nowadays, anything goes. I mean, in the past, maybe it wasn't even good manners to wear a hat indoors. Now it doesn't matter what the weather is or what the etiquette is."