The Sailor Hat has a long and rich history, from its beginnings in 1852, to its current form today. The white sailor hat is also commonly called the “Dixie-cup” because it looks like the paper cup. Throughout the Navy you hear people talk about the purpose of this hat, that it was used as a flotation device in case a person went overboard, and that you can turn it out and use it to float. Although I’ve never tested it, it certainly makes sense.
The Navy has a special way to put it on to make it look right on a sailor. When you put it on your head, you place your pointer and middle finger in-between your eyes running along your nose. Then you adjust the hat so that it reaches to your top finger, which is where the hat should be.
One common complaint that most of us sailors have is that it doesn’t cover the ears at all, and we commonly wear the hat in sub-freezing weather. It’s definitely for show or tradition more then anything else. It’s a part of the Navy image, and recognizable from shows such as Popeye.
Written by Bill Wayne, member of the Best Military Surplus team