Put a Hat on Your Main Character or His Sidekick

“Put a Hat on Your Main Character or His Sidekick” by Joan Y. Edwards

In the 19th Century hats denoted a certain status in society. In 1988, Joseph J. Sullivan wrote a hilarious song called, “Where Did You Get That Hat?” It is so funny.  Listen to it on YouTube:


No matter where he went, all anyone ever asked him was “Where did you get that hat?” Even when he was getting married, the preacher asked him, “Where did you get that hat?”

Today hats denote personality, job, and may not denote a certain status in society. Above I’m wearing a Fireman’s hat at my grandson, Wyatt’s birthday party. The fire department came to help him celebrate.

Below is a picture with me in a Ducky souvenir hat that I bought to wear on the Ride the Ducks tour in Seattle, Washington. I doubt that it typified me as upper class. It probably showed that I had a lot of nerve and was in a humorous mood.

In the nineteenth century women’s hats showed style and beauty.  Many hats today are styled to protect the head and eyes from the sun. Although, I wasn’t in the sun inside the studio to paint a ceramic napkin holder, I wore it inside, anyway because when I wear a hat, it flattens out my hair.

Put a hat on your main character or his sidekick, it will help with characterization or help a point in your plot. One movie where a hat was important in the characterization of a sidekick was: Every Which Way But Loose. Clint Eastwood played Philo Beddoe whose sidekick Orville was his friend and fight manager. Orville wore a baseball cap. When it was time for a fight, he turned his baseball cap around backwards. To me that was funny. It changed the atmosphere from “We were only playing around” to “Now we’re meaning serious business.” According to Wikipedia, this movie still ranks as one of the top 200 highest grossing films of all time.

Evidently, I’m not the only one who thinks hats are a significant way to bring out attitude of a character, his job, or other significance in the plot of a story. I found a lot of links to hats in movies. I listed six of them in the Resources area.

Many times when you think of these characters, you think of them with their hats on. You seldom think of them with the hat off, even if the character doesn’t wear it all the time.

Here’s a picture of Carl and me wearing hats.

I don’t always wear a hat, but I do love to wear hats. My husband, Carl, almost always wears a hat. He has more than 40 hats. I have about six hats. I hope you enjoyed seeing the photos of me in hats in this blog.


  1. Diana Crane. “The Social Meanings of Hats:” http://www.press.uchicago.edu/Misc/Chicago/117987.html
  2. Hats in the Belfry. “7 Famous Movie Hats:” https://www.hatsinthebelfry.com/blog/hats-in-the-belfrys-derby-preakness-2018-media-blitz.html
  3. Joan Y. Edwards. “What’s a Sidekick? What’s His Job?” http://joanyedwards.com/whats-a-sidekick-whats-his-job/
  4. Silver Screen Oasis Forum: “Hats in Movies:” http://silverscreenoasis.com/oasis3/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=4768
  5. Top 10 “The Most Famous Hats in the Movies:” https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.203920066316462.47517.107811955927274&type=3
  6. Wikipedia. “Where Did You Get That Hat?” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Where_Did_You_Get_That_Hat%3F

Three of my blog articles about props:

  1. Joan Y. Edwards. “Image Props for Stories #1: All That Was Left – a Stapler, a Money Bag, and a Bird Ornament:” http://joanyedwards.com/image-props-for-stories-1-all-that-was-left-a-stapler-a-money-bag-and-a-bird-ornament/
  2. Joan Y. Edwards. “Image Props for Stories #2: Bananas, Scissors, a Vacuum Cleaner, and a Ferris Wheel:” http://joanyedwards.com/image-props-for-stories-2-bananas-scissors-a-vacuum-cleaner-and-a-ferris-wheel/
  3. Joan Y. Edwards. “Image Props for Stories #3: A Basketball, a Pillow, and a Pair of Boots:”  http://joanyedwards.com/image-props-for-stories-3-a-basketball-a-pillow-and-a-pair-of-boots/

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Never Give Up
Joan Y. Edwards, Author
Copyright © 2013-2019 Joan Y. Edwards
Never Give Up
Joan Y. Edwards
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11 thoughts on “Put a Hat on Your Main Character or His Sidekick”

    1. Dear Susan,
      Glad you liked my hats. Where did I get that hat? Which one? Thanks for reading my blog and leaving comments. You help me smile a little more.

      Never Give Up
      Joan Y. Edwards

  1. Joan,
    When you mentioned Clint Eastwood, I thought you’d refer to Westerns where he wore a black hat and bit down on a cigar. I tend to picture him that way, although I watched him in many movies where he wore no hat. The hat photo usually comes to mind unless a specific movie is named.

    Nice take on hats. Notice mine below!

    1. Dear Linda,
      It’s nice of you to wear a hat when writing comments on blogs. How sweet of you!.You’re a good jester! Your blog is filled with many fun activities that’ll make people smile for a mile or more. It was his sidekick that wore a hat in Every Which Way But Loose. I know the vision you have of Clint Eastwood, the cowboy. It is funny how we remember different visions of characters with hats on.

      Never Give Up
      Joan Y. Edwards

      1. Joan,
        I’m glad you put the spotlight on Clint Eastwood’s sidekick in the movie. I just figured Clint would be the one described. Your take on it was a pleasant surprise. I liked that.

        Thanks for the compliment about my hat. It’s fun visiting others and so I like to come in my playful hat.

  2. Oh this is sooooo cool! I especially like the last one of you and Carl. It’s so cute…And you’re so cute in every hat!! My mom has a box of vintage hats for me…I can’t wait to see them!

    1. Dear Karen,
      Thanks for writing. I appreciate you. I’m glad you liked all the hats, especially, the one of Carl and me. We were in Colorado at a Pizza restaurant with his sister and her husband. I’d love to look through the vintage hats your mother saved for you. Now that would be a picture-taking moment filled with fun, fun, fun. I hope you will share a picture of you in one…if not publicly on my blog or Facebook, in person by email. You could write a great article for the Fort Mill Times showing pictures of people in Fort Mill wearing hats in different historical photos.

      Never Give Up
      Joan Y. Edwards

  3. You are so right about using a hat to help define a character. Although it was a scarf (actually a hijab) a character in one of my books (Sudah in Hyphema) wore a head covering which identified her commitment to her faith. She was married to an American Christian man, a Paramedic, in North Carolina. The “hat” and her ethnic background was a significant aspect f the story.
    This was a good “thinking” article, thank you.

    1. Dear Chelle,
      Thanks for not only reading my post, but taking the time to leave a comment. I appreciate you doing that. Using a scarf (hijab) to show your character wore a head covering that identified her commitment to her faith, was a smart thing for you as the author to use. Whenever people visualize her, they’ll visualize her with that scarf over her head. Good luck with your writing. Celebrate you and your writing talent.

      Never Give Up
      Joan Y. Edwards

  4. What a fun topic. It’s so you, Joan. I love hats too, used them for my pre-school reading days as Granny Bee. Now I use them for story-telling in children’s church. You’re right, they flatten your hair, a lot!
    Thanks for the reminder that a character can show his character by the hat he wears, and the way he wears it. Good thot to file away and use in my writing, only my characters are more likely to have bamboo carved combs or exotic bird feathers in their hair! Thanks again, for your posts, fun but informative and challenging to my writing, as well. Barbara

    1. Dear Barbara,
      Thanks for writing. I’m glad you agree that hats is a fun topic. Maybe we could invite everyone in our writing group to wear a hat that’s significant to us.

      Hats can indeed show a character’s traits and attitudes. But indeed knowing that your characters are wearing bamboo carved combs on one side and exotic bird feathers on the other would show us that he probably doesn’t live in South Carolina.

      Enjoy your writing. I always enjoy hearing from you. Thanks for reading my blog.

      Never Give Up
      Joan Y. Edwards

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