If you take a look at the amazingly fascinating history of hats, they first started off as a way to protect the head and face from harsh weather conditions and, well, the scorching sun. Back then, most men were pictured wearing different styles of hats to stay warm and to keep the sun off.
However, with numerous developments and advancements in time, these very noble hats transformed into something more. It was almost as if they gained a character, an identity. Soon after that, hats became quite a status and fashion symbol for men and then, they became the ultimate, classic way to add a touch of style and glamour to any outfit.
Now, it has become a fantastic addition to any man’s wardrobe and is even found in various styles and varieties. Take a look at some of the most popular types of hats for men and learn about how each of these hats has such an interesting history and story to reveal.
The Fedora Hat
When you think of the most classic types of hats for men, the fedora hat is probably the first name that comes to mind. Undeniably, these iconic hats have successfully battled against the test of time and have evolved from being gangster hats in the 1920s to being one of the most polarizing men’s accessories all the way into the modern times.
The fedora is a type of a felt hat that comes with an indented crown and a really wide brim. The most distinguishing feature of this hat is its signature dent or pinch on both sides towards the front. This indentation allows for a roomier fit and makes it really comfortable for the wearer.
The hat gained significant popularity especially after a French play called Fédora was staged in 1882 and that is also how the hat got its unique name. The following decade, the fedora hats became a great fashion accessory for both men and women. Interestingly, this hat was worn by men throughout the entire United States from 1920 onwards.
Fedora hats have undergone massive fluctuations in terms of their popularity; however, they did make a huge comeback in today’s time as an elegant and fantastic wardrobe addition for men.
The Trilby Hat
This is considered to be Fedora’s “little brother” given such great similarity between the two, which is also why the trilby hat is often confused with the former type of hat. The main difference between the two is that the trilby hat has a smaller brim with a larger crown. Its back is also short than the front that gives it a very angular look.
Trilby hats are typically made straw, wool, tweed, and rabbit hair. These hats are often adorned with feathers and ribbons in order to produce a very refined look. The major point in history that made these hats really popular was during 1894 when this hat was featured in a novel called “Trilby” by George du Maurier. Coincidentally, the heroine of the novel also has the same name as the hat and soon enough, the novel became an international blockbuster success that greatly propelled the popularity of the trilby hats.
It is often believed that trilby hats are a symbolized fashion accessory for members of the upper class and you are likely to see most men wearing these hats at horse racing events all around the world.
The Panama Hat
Having emerged from the country of Ecuador, the Panama hat is a traditional brimmed straw hat that started off as a humble hat but has massively transformed into an absolute must-have accessory for men, especially for tropical and seaside destinations.
These hats sport an appearance that is quite similar to the fedora and trilby hats; however, what sets them apart is the materials from which they are made. Unlike the other two hats, the Panama hat is made from woven palm leaves which results in quite a flexible weave pattern that can easily be rolled or crumpled in any shape you like.
The production of Panama hats began during the mid-1600s in Ecuador and what started as a small, part-time hobby turned into a huge hat business in 1835 right in the heart of Montecristi. The major turning point for the popularity of these hats Theodore Roosevelt was photographed donning a Panama hat. This gave an ultimate boost to the status of these hats after which generations of men were pictured wearing the hat with utter grace and elegance.
Panama hats are particularly made for gorgeous summery weather which is the primary reason why they are usually light in weight and color and are also quite breathable which makes them really easy to wear.
The Boater Hat
You can always identify a boater hat by its characteristic stiff sennit straw weave, round and wide brim, finished by a classic grosgrain ribbon. This is another summer essential for men’s headwear and is also known by other names such as “straw canotier”, “sommer” and “skimmer”.
Back in the days, the boater hat was particularly worn by barbershop quartets, boaters, sailors and rowers, but in today’s time, it has made quite a comeback as a stylish accessory for men and is best worn with checkered shirts and jeans.
Most men consider this hat to be a great alternative to the fedora or Panama hat given how all three have some degree of similarity in appearance and looks. This hat was once described as, “a jaunty, cheeky upstart of a style, never to be taken too seriously” by a fashion historian called Colin McDowell.
At the time of its origin, the boater hat as a universal and unisex fashion accessory and was a surprise for most people because the hat gave quite a formal touch despite being made from straw. Eventually, the hat made its way into men’s wardrobes, but its boom of popularity was quite short-lived and faced an ultimate decline by the time the First World War was over.
The Bowler Hat
Also known as a derby hat in the United States, the bowler hat was invented in the late 19th century in London by William and Thomas Bowler. It gained massive popularity as an iconic fashionable headwear in British style and most of the credit for its fame goes to actors like Charlie Chaplin, John Cleese, and Curly Howard.
The bowler is a hard, felt hat that sports a narrow brim with a well-rounded crown. Most cowboys and railroad workers from the 19th century preferred wearing this hat, especially in the American West region, primarily because it had an impressive grip and stayed put even during strong winds.
The best part of this hat is that it adds quite an eccentric touch to your overall attire and it perfectly complements any formal get-up with tailored pants, leather dress shoes and perhaps, a nice coat. It was particularly loved and worn by the working class during Victorian times and eventually made its way into the middle and upper class like bankers, civil servants, and officials in the United Kingdom.
The Homburg Hat
More like a formal variation of the Fedora hat, the Homburg hat is characterized by its stiff kettle curl brim and a prominent dent on the center of the crown which is called a “gutter crown”. It is considered to be a real classic and a staple item in every man’s wardrobe given the fact that it is one of the best options to pair with formal attire.
According to one of the many theories about the invention of the homburg hat, the popularity of this hat can be traced all the way back to 1882, particularly at a time when Edward VII visited Bad Homburg in Germany. Apparently, he bought a Homburg hat from there one fine day that ultimately resulted in significant visibility of that hat after which it became super popular among most men.
This hat has a creased crown with a stiffer brim, slightly upturned lip all around, but without the pinches on the sides, as compared to its cousin hat Fedora. An interesting fact about the Homburg hat is that apparently, this is a great masterpiece that took almost three months to be crafted in which there were numerous hatters who came from ten different countries in order to produce this fashion accessory.
The Top Hat
Often referred to as one of the most sophisticated types of hats, the top hat for men is mainly characterized by its wide brim and a really tall, flat crown. It is a classic dress hat that was worn by several historical figures like Winston Churchill and Abraham Lincoln.
Initially, after its invention, the top hat was made of felted beaver fur that gave it a very unique look. Later, the fur was replaced by soft, nappy silk and eventually, even that was changed and now, these hats are made with plush fur.
Back in the 19th century, the top hat was like a mainstay of the Victorian style of life and whoever wore it then was believed to be a man of industry and someone who was highly dignified and well-to-do. However, with the progress of time and centuries, it is now a mere sketch of the upper-class privilege that it was once associated with. In today’s time, this hat is quite a rarity and is mostly a part of a specific costume.
The Pork Pie Hat
This hat has often generated a lot of confusion and surprise mainly due to its weird yet unique name. One theory behind that name posits that during the 19th century, you could see a pork pie dish in almost every single bakery’s window in Britain. So, since the shape of the hat really resembled that of a pork pie dish, which is what eventually led to the hat being called by this name.
The pork pie hat is a small, round hat with a flat top and a cylindrical crown. It has a special prominent dent at the top part, with a narrow curled brim that is often finished off with a fancy ribbon. The 19th century is a great witness to the reputation of the pork pie hat during which it also became one of the most important marks showcasing the British style. After that, the hat lost much of its popularity among most men, only to make a surprising comeback when it was recurrently seen throughout the Breaking Bad series.
The Cowboy Hat
This hat has to be one of the most defining and central features of the iconic appearance of ‘the cowboy’ and its unique features like the pinched crown and the curved round brim is what has led to its ultimate popularity. It has a huge lenient crown that makes it quite an extensive and an overflowing hat. Its large, wide appearance is one of the reasons why the hat is also often referred to as the ‘ten-gallon hat’.
The first-ever cowboy hat was invented back in the 1860s during the period of the American Civil war by a famous hat manufacturer from Philadelphia called John B. Stetson. He made the hat by using the fur of several small animals like beaver and rabbit. It surprisingly proved to be quite a sturdy, durable hat and so it became extremely popular among the working westerners. It was initially called the “Boss of the Plains” after which it underwent a series of modifications and alterations.
The cowboy hat that we have now is a result of the work done on the original hat by the Mexicans who changed it during the 19th century. They redesigned certain features like curving the edges upwards, making a taller crown and also made the brim a little wider in order to seek protection from the sunny climates of Mexico. Following that, the western nations seriously started adopting this headwear trend and since then, its popularity spread to various different regions all across the globe. It was initially worn by a great number of men due to its style and appearance; however, it was such a loved and admired hat that it eventually made its way even into women’s wardrobes.
So, how many of these hats do you already own?
Gadget geek, watch lover, fitness fan, walker, long-time tech writer/blogger and family man.