As we've mentioned on many occasions before, shipping is deeply embedded in Dutch culture and society. What you might not know is that it's constantly making comebacks in our fashion trends! Have you ever wondered why woolly hats often feature a pompom?
Sailors were the first to have pompoms on their sailors’ caps. The lower decks on old ships had low ceilings, and the big waves at sea caused the ships to rock and jolt up and down, sometimes quite violently. To prevent the sailors bumping their heads hard below deck, a round cushion was sewn onto the tops of their caps. The story goes that the pompoms in the French Navy were red because a sailor bumped his head so hard that it bled. So the colourful pompom on your woolly hat was originally an important safety feature! Dutch sailors today no longer wear a beret with a pompom.
Another story about the woollen pompom has a more romantic appeal. It was said if you were able to stroke a sailor's head without him noticing, good luck would come your way. If the sailor in question caught you touching his pompom, you owed him a kiss.
A kiss or good luck – both were welcome outcomes if the strong, rugged, windswept sailor looked like the ones in a woman's daydreams! What about the female sailor of today? She also wears a beret without a pompom, but unlike her male counterparts she has no sailor's collar. She wears a necktie.
So if someone sneakily strokes the pompom on your cosy woolly hat this winter, pucker up and give them a kiss!