design / fashion

Mad dogs and Australians go out in the midday sun…apologies to Noel Coward

Melanoma is Australia’s 4th most common type of cancer and affects one in four Australians. Exposure to sun is the main way you get it.

It makes me wonder why more of us don’t wear hats? At any outdoor event you visit in Australia you see hats on some heads but not all.

The Melanoma Organisation lists five ways you can prevent melanoma, and wearing a hat is one of them.

They are specific, a broad brimmed hat is the type to wear for maximum protection.

broad brimmed and shady

broad brimmed and shady


Why aren’t we listening to the experts?

Is it because of our historically rebellious nature? Hats were once indicators to which class you belonged to in and what your profession was. A cap might mean that you were a miner and a fedora a businessman or white collar worker.

Is our reluctance to protect ourselves against a deadly cancer due to the vagaries of fashion? Is it just too uncool to wear a hat? Teenage boys wear caps to make a link between themselves and Hip Hop. Hipster boys currently wear pork pies. Girls who spend much more money on skin products than boys often wear none.


We have a great tradition of hat wearing and hat making in Australia. I’m not sure what Aboriginal people wore on their heads pre white invasion but they shared their knowledge to the first white people to make the cabbage tree hat.

I imagined the cabbage tree hat to be a clumsy crude looking thing. And was so surprised that it is actually a very elegant chapeau! According to an Australian government heritage publication, “the cabbage tree hat was worn by all aspects of society in the nineteenth century from convicts through to squatters.”

Early cabbage tree hat

Early cabbage tree hat

“the larrikins of Sydney’s Rocks area were also marked by their cabbage tree hats and known as the ‘cabbage tree mob”

Australian men and women wore hats up until the 60’s then big hair for women and a self-conscious cutting with the past lead to a mass hats off in the general population.

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Certain stereotypes survived; Volvo drivers always wore hats and were old men, bowling women wore the uniform of white bowling hats, The Queen always wears hats.

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There are a huge range of Australian hats still available and amazingly still made here. Akubra and Barmah would be names familiar to most Australians.

These hats have a particular look about them, a country look.

Akubra Bobby hat

Akubra Bobby hat

An Akubra Ladies hat -Bianca

An Akubra Ladies hat -Bianca

Country hats worn by country men and women.

Are people in the country more practical and less concerned with fashion?

         Once upon a time a simple straw shape could be decorated or trimmed to suit the occasion. Women had fun doing this, it was a creative outlet, and they had fun wearing them.

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This version of a straw doesn’t offer much protection.


My Nana who lived in the harsh Queensland sun never went anywhere without a hat to suit the occasion. I think we should follow in the footsteps of the wise ones and stay out of the midday sun, with hats on heads.

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2 thoughts on “Mad dogs and Australians go out in the midday sun…apologies to Noel Coward

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