Winter has arrived. And the snow has too, finally.
“Matt the Hat” is ready.
The “Hat,” also known as Matt Lange of Schenectady, covers his hair and ears with the black and blue of Duke University during big and small chills. His Duke “Blue Devils” hat will allow him to make statements against cold weather and for teen fashion.
“It lets me represent my team,” said Lange, 17, a senior at Notre Dame-Bishop Gibbons High School in Schenectady. “I get to represent my school every time I go outside.”
Colder temperatures are normally expected for January and February, the true months for winter wear. Young people seem to prize hats for fun and functionality, and teenagers at Notre Dame-Bishop Gibbons were happy to share sentiments about coverage as they wait for snow to show off their selections.
Lange and others on the school’s indoor track team run in cool hats when the weather is cool outside.
A tale of tassels
His hat, like others popular with teens, comes with ear covers and tassels that run down the sides.
“You don’t have to wear ear muffs,” he said. “It’s two for the price of one.”
But what about those tassels? Teenagers of another era, say the 1970s, might not have been sold on winter hats to begin with. They might have even sneered at tassels.
Lange does not suffer fools from the ’70s gladly. “It takes a real man to be able to pull off tassels,” he said, “and ‘Matt the Hat’ can pull off tassels.”
Nick Przekurat, 17, of Glenmont, has embraced the ’70s with his navy blue and yellow “Amity” hat. There are a couple of stories behind his deep-colored cover.
“Amity — this hat was actually worn by a relative of mine who went to Amity High School in Connecticut,” said Przekurat, also a senior at the Albany Street school. “But the real reason I have this hat is because it’s also the town’s name in ‘Jaws.’ ”
The famous film about the hunt for a monster shark hit movie screens during the summer of 1975 — about 20 years before Przekurat and his hat-loving friends were born. “ ‘That’s some bad hat, Harry,’ ” Przekurat said. “That’s one of my favorite lines.”
Nick knows the movie. For people who don’t, Roy Scheider’s Sheriff Brody sits at the beach, annoyed to be near the ocean. An old codger named Harry comes out of the drink, dressed in a goofy-looking swim cap, and kids Brody about his fear of the water. Brody says the “bad hat” line, walks away. Like everything else, the scene is on YouTube.
Przekurat doesn’t always salute Brody, the shark and Harry when he dresses for winter. He said teens wear some winter hats to attract attention.
“I have one that’s completely neon blue,” Przekurat said. “It says, ‘Hey, I’m here.’ They’re like shoes, they show you who the person is.”
Junior Laura Reilly, 16, prefers a little forest flair when she challenges the cold weather. Her white-and-tan faux fur hat comes with small ears on the top. “I think it’s a bear,” Reilly said. “It’s pretty fun, it’s comfortable and it looks pretty good. If it looked bad, it wouldn’t be as fun.”
Taylor Jarvis is not a Duke University fan, but has still chosen navy blue for winter. And some white — they’re the colors of his favorite baseball team, the New York Yankees.
“I saw this at Wal-Mart and it was like, ‘I’ve got to get this hat,’ ” said Jarvis, 17, a senior who lives in Guilderland. “I like this fashion of hat, I like the tassels. As ‘Matt the Hat’ said, it takes a real man to pull off tassels. And the Yankees logo just sold it for me.”
Some kids don’t need that much flash. Steve Dixon’s choice is a brown and orange model that’s pretty simple. But when he wears it, he’s in with the in crowd. “ We got these at a track meet,” said Dixon, 17, a Schenectady senior. “All of us have them and it’s fun, we wear them when we run.”
Gwyn Sise, 15, a sophomore from Amsterdam, wears a long, Santa Claus-style hat for winter. Gwyn doesn’t want to be a redhead — her long cap is navy blue.
Sise likes fashion, but is aware that hats can give teenagers unwanted cases of “hat hair” — flattened hair styles that even “Matt the Hat” would not appreciate. “I guess I don’t really wear it if there’s something I need nice hair for,” she said.
School spirit matters to some ND-BG students. When Jason Lange wears his maroon and gold winter hat, he’s wearing school colors.
“It says that I love my school,” said Lange, 17, twin brother of hat-loving Matt. “I bleed maroon and gold. You’ve got to show off your school spirit.”
There is no issue of “cool” involved — as in guys being cool because they refuse to wear winter hats.
“It’s cool to be comfortable,” Lange said. “And I am comfortable when I wear my hat.”