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In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the straw boater became synonymous with summer leisure. In the hard-scrabble, often oppressive Industrial Revolution, leisure time for many was hard to come by. Owning and wearing a straw boater (a.k.a. skimmer or sailor straw) was the wearer's badge that life had become more than simply hard work. Manet, as well as other artists of the time, use the boater as a symbol of the good life and the emergence of "leisure" as a right and privilege.
Straw hats for men, similar to the one pictured here can be seen at the Village Hat Shop.