Hoodie Culture

By , February 4, 2017

When my older brother and I were children, we loved a particular style of clothing, in spite of the fact that it included a feature that we considered useless, if not worse.

We adored our sweatshirts, particularly pull overs, despite that despised feature, the hood.

We loved everything else about the sweatshirt: its warmth—just enough to provide a bit of comfort without getting too hot, its softness, its sense of security. We would have considered it the perfect item of clothing, if not for that stupid hood.

Comfort, ear/head protection when needed, and a place for my stuff! (Photo: Michelle L. Zeiger).

Comfort, ear/head protection when needed, and a place for my stuff! (Photo: Michelle L. Zeiger).

“Put your hood up!”

How we hated that parental admonition! The first home we remember, in central Washington state, was set in a region of frequent winds. Our parents wanted us to wear our hoods to keep our heads warm, but also to protect our ears from the steady winds. Specifically, they worried about our hearing, as so many apple farmers in our town (at the ripe old age of somewhat younger-than-I-am-now) were hard of hearing from venturing out bareheaded in the wind. While we children appreciated the comfort of the sweatshirts, we felt as if we’d rather die than wear the hood, even in private.

The hoods made us feel like little kids, and what child wants to feel like that? We’d pull them up just enough to ensure that they’d “accidentally” fall off as soon as we broke into a trot, preferably outside of Mom or Dad’s view.

Now, in my fifties, I find myself wearing hoodie sweatshirts often, particularly because of the hood. We’ve found them at a polyester/cotton blend ratio that wicks adequately, vital to our lifestyle (see Cotton Kills).

Lately, sweatshirts have even displaced my beloved wool sweaters as the go-to pullover through much of the year, particularly because that hood is so handy so much of the time! Especially since I started shaving my head, a hood is the perfect thing to have handy—say, hanging off the back of my neck—just waiting to be put into use as needed. It adds warmth and protection if I need to step outside without putting on a coat, or even as momentary warmth in the cabin if the temperature drops. Sweatshirts layer perfectly under overcoats, with the hood carefully positioned to be pulled up and over my hat if I need an extra layer warmth or protection from—as often happens—the wind.

I’ve even tied the hood a time or two, something I would have done almost anything to avoid as a child.

As an added bonus, there’s the “kangaroo” pocket, a very useful place to keep a headlamp, my iPod, and anything else I want to tote around that won’t fit into my pants pockets at the moment. Running around the homestead, I look like I’ve developed a lumpy, asymmetrical paunch in middle age.

Perhaps most ironic of all, I like to wear my hoodies because they make me feel casual, relaxed, and just maybe, a bit younger.

I have to laugh at myself. Hoodie sweatshirts are just one example of many things that I disliked as a child, but now embrace as I age.

2 Responses to “Hoodie Culture”

  1. Dave says:

    Now that you mention it, I’ve got a whole locker full of unused, detachable pvc hoods from generations of raingear. Luv muh hat to this day.

    But there are those days in the wind, a hoodie would come in right nice in my dotage!

    And never forget… Cowboys don’t smile!

  2. Mark Zeiger says:

    Dave, your last comment is hilarious! I thought about going into the whole “cowboy way” (as it were) as one of the obstacles to wearing the hoods, but figured it was too broad a topic to cover in this essay. That was very much on my mind as I wrote it, though!

    Detachable hoods are a whole other thing that I’m slowly becoming reconciled to, as well. I don’t like how the old ones zipped in such a way as to allow a cold wind on the back of the neck, but manufacturers are accounting for that now.

    Writing this was a great trip down memory lane! As much as we fought, I sure loved being your little brother when we were kids. Today, too, for that matter!

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