7 Intriguing Facts About Hats

Hats have been around for thousands of years. Even though they’re very common, there are quite a few interesting facts that keep hats unique and mysterious. Whether you want to know more about your favorite headwear or you’re simply intrigued by new information about apparel, you’re in the right place.

Seven interesting facts about hats include the ironic wisdom-centric origins of dunce hats, the fact that Panama hats were made in Ecuador, and hats have been worn for over 10,000 years. Also, the term ‘Mad Hatter’ is derived from the mercury poisoning that drove ancient hatters insane.

Throughout this article, you’ll learn the following information about interesting hat facts:

  • The meaning behind every hard hat’s color
  • Why people used to wear hats as a status symbol
  • The origins of many hats that aren’t what they seem to be

Dunce Hats Used To Be a Sign of Wisdom

These days, dunce hats are a symbol of embarrassment, shame, and low academic intelligence. These cone-shaped hats show the wearer scored low on a test, acted inappropriately, or did something to make the professor upset. However, there used to be a connection between the dunce hat and wisdom.

John Duns Scotus was the mastermind behind the dunce hat. He created it as a way to increase his wisdom. Many of his followers believed it gave them a connection to the gods! Unfortunately, that’s the opposite of the dunce hat’s modern meaning.

Panama Hats Aren’t From Panama

Panama hats are stylish, especially throughout South America. These comfortable, breathable hats encourage ventilation while preventing sunburns for workers building the Panama Canal. However, they were made and worn on the Ecuadorian side of the canal.

They were so popular with people working on the Panama Canal that the name stuck. These days, Panama hats are a headwear staple worldwide. Read more about how the Panama hat got its name in this article.

Panama hats
@Maccaholic via Twenty20

Want your own Panama hat? Checkout this popular option on Amazon.

People Used To Have To Wear Hats Every Sunday

It’s a common courtesy to take your hat off when entering religious buildings, government facilities, and other professional sites. 

Elizabeth I enforced a law that required every person over seven years old to wear a hat on Sunday. While this occurred many years ago, some people maintain the policy out of respect to her orders.

Hats Retain Body Heat Throughout the Year

Some people wear hats for the style, while others want to keep the sun out of their eyes. Interestingly enough, we lose up to 20% of our body heat through our heads. Wearing a hat retains the heat, keeping you warm. If you’re tired of overheating during the hot summer months, consider wearing a Panama hat or visor to let the heat escape freely.

Hats Are Over 10,000 Years Old

The first painting of a hat is roughly 17,000 years old. It was found in a cave painting in France. The hat’s intention is unknown, though there’s a chance it had something to do with warmth, social status, or style.

Hard Hats Are Color-Coordinated

Have you ever been to a construction site and wondered why there are so many hat colors? There’s a method to the madness. Let’s do a breakdown of the most common hard hat colors and what they mean:

  • Engineers often wear white hard hats.
  • General laborers wear yellow hard hats.
  • Technical supervisors typically wear blue hard hats.
  • Safety inspectors prefer green hard hats.

Read more about hard hats and why they expire in this article.

The Term ‘Mad Hatter’ Was Caused by Mercury

Whether you’ve heard it in Alice in Wonderland or from your history lessons, the term ‘mad hatter’ or ‘mad as a hatter’ comes from the mercury poisoning ancient hatters endured to make hats. Inhaling and touching too much mercury in the dye and other hat materials drove them insane. Discover more about mercury and hat production in this article.


Now that you know the most interesting facts about hats, you can wear your favorite hats without wondering where they came from, why they were made, or why they’re essential. Hats have been a part of humanity’s journey for a long time, and there’s no doubt they’re here to stay.

Here’s a quick recap of the post:

  • Dunce hats and Panama hats aren’t what their names indicate.
  • Hats retain up to 20% of your body heat, so wear a visor if you’re too warm.
  • Hard hats have significance behind every color.