The year’s 1932 and you’re hot on the trail of the infamous Back Alley Stabber. Ran drizzles under a gray sky while steam rises from the manhole covers in a forgotten backstreet in Manhattan. Footprints in the mud. Big feet, big man. If you don’t stop the murderer, more bodies will be piling up in these alleys soon enough. Water drips cold from your Fedora hat as you kneel down to inspect the tracks…
Okay, you’re probably not a private detective, and it’s most certainly not 1932. But if you were a detective back then, there’s a good chance you would have been wearing a Fedora hat. Through the first half of the 20th century, the Fedora was ubiquitous among men and quite popular with women as well.
Dig up crowd photos from the era, and you might find a hat on every man and boy’s head. And many if not most of those hats will be Fedoras. Arguably, the Fedora hat was the most popular hat style in the 1920s and 30s. The Fedora hat was popular among women too, although women weren’t expected to always wear hats like men.
The fedora has fallen out of style in recent decades but it’s still an iconic piece of history and fashion. Fedora hats are soft brimmed hats with dented crowns and a pinch upfront. If you happen to get your hands on an original Dick Tracey comic book from the 1930s, after flipping a few pages, you’d probably find Detective Tracey wearing a Fedora.
And if you’re looking for a modern, suave take on the Fedora, you’ve got some options, including the Fedora itself. We’re going to cover hats similar to Fedoras. With these Fedora hat alternatives, you can find the right hat style for your situation.
Further, while the Fedora doesn’t make for a good hat on warm summer days or while taking vacations to the tropics, you can find a variety of seasonal hats that offer a similar shape to the Fedora but are designed to be worn in warmer weather. In some situations, you might need a narrow brim. Other times, you’ll be better served by a wide brim. Such a sun hat can be both suave and comfortable.
So many hats, so many options. There’s a reason hat racks are a thing. Different hats for different occasions can go a long way. So let’s take a look at some Fedora alternatives.
The Classic Fedora- Iconic for a Reason
If you think of Fedoras, there’s a good chance you’ll think of a detective like Dick Tracey or a well-to-do man. The Fedora was an immensely popular hat style among men through the start of the 20th century and into the 1970s.
Interestingly enough, however, it’s believed that a woman ushered the Fedora into high fashion. Sarah Bernhardt, a French stage actress, frequently wore Fedoras while on stage and soon women began imitating her. The Fedora hat style would later become a symbol of the Women’s Suffrage movement.
At one point, the Fedora was a common hat that many people wore day in and day out. These days, Fedoras are largely relegated to formal affairs and special events. Certainly, the Fedora is a fetching hat, but some would argue that it draws too much attention for daily use.
Still, if you’re looking for a dress hat, the Fedora is a good option. You can choose high-quality materials as well. A fur felt Fedora is a great choice for formal wear.
Indiana Jones Hat- The Adventurous Fedora
Generally speaking, Fedoras are more formal hats and often go well with suits. That said, some Fedora hats have been known for being quite adventurous. Indiana Jones wore a now-iconic brown Fedora hat, typically made out of a sturdy fur felt. While a felt hat is a bit formal, it’s also quite sturdy.
In the movies, the hat functioned more like a Cowboy hat (which we’ll dig into later). The hat’s wide brim protected Jones from the sun, debris, sand, and more. Indiana’s Fedora got quite dirty as well, showing that Fedoras were made for more than formal wear.
Trilby Hat- A Close Sibling to the Fedora
Another hat with a great backstory, the Trilby hat was popularized by a stage production of the classic novel “Trilby,” written by George du Maurier. Eventually, the Trilby hat, which is similar to the Fedora hat, would become quite popular.
Still, during the first few decades of the 20th century, the Trilby was considered a rich person’s hat and out of the reach of common folks. The trilby hat eventually fell off the radar. By the 1970s, however, the Trilby began to make a comeback as a retro hat style. These days, the Trilby is considered, if anything, a more causal hat than the Fedora.
So what makes a Trilby a Trilby? First, the brim is fixed down permanently and is generally more narrow than Fedora’s wide brim.
And while Fedoras are typically made from a small portfolio of fabrics, you find more varied material choices when it comes to the Trilby hat. You can easily find a straw Trilby or similar sun hat. A straw Fedora hat, on the other hand, is often hard to come by.
You might find these hats fashioned out of straw, leather, cotton, and other materials. Use straw, and suddenly you have a good sun hat for warm weather.
Still, the Trilby has a lot in common with the Fedora, including the teardrop top and classic crown “pinch.” These features, however, are typically less pronounced on a Trilby hat.
If the Fedora is a bit too loud for you, the Trilby hat offers an excellent alternative.
Cowboy Hat- The Hat of the Rugged West
The Cowboy Hat is arguably the most famous hat style in the United States. These days, the Cowboy hat is an important icon and a vital part of Americana culture. It’s also still widely worn in the United States and even across the world.
Originally, cowboys herding cows used the hat to provide shade on hot days and warmth on cold days. The original Cowboy hat, which features some different style cues than the modern hat, is sometimes referred to as the Cattleman hat.
While you can find tons of different sun hats today, the cowboy hat is among the originals. To this day, the Cowboy hat is perhaps most popular in rural areas and the American South West. Still, the cowboy hat style can turn up anywhere, including in the big city.
The cowboy hat did evolve, however. Modern cowboy hats offer features that you likely wouldn’t find in the 19th century. Among other things, the brim now curls up on the sides, thus staying out of the wearer’s way. The hat crown is pinched on the modern cowboy hat, as well, making it easier to handle.
Outside of the baseball cap, the cowboy hat might be the most familiar hat style today.
Akubra or Outback Hat
If you’re looking for an alternative to the cowboy hat, but still want something rugged and designed for use outdoors, you’ll want to look at the Outback Hat. Sometimes, this sun hat is called the Akubra, named after one of the most popular and famous Australian hat-makers. You may also hear it called a bush hat.
Like the cowboy hat, this hat features a wide brim. The crown isn’t necessarily pinched like a cowboy hat, but you can find pinched crowns. These hats can be made from a wide range of materials, including wool, canvas, felt, and more. While designed for use in the bush, you can find classy, formal options as well.
Panama Hat- Fedora Style For Warm Weather
The Panama Hat, which is also known as the Ecuadorian hat or toquilla hat, features a similar shape and look to the Fedora. These hats are typically made out of straw or similar material, however. And they’re largely designed with hot weather in mind.
A wool Fedora might be great for New York City or Chicago. Wool is not necessarily the best choice, however, for the tropics. That’s where the Panama Hat comes in. These Ecuadorian hats are typically light-colored and highly breathable. They provide you with lots of shade while also not feeling suffocating.
When it comes to Fedora hats and Trilby hats, the quality of the materials is often key. These hats are typically a bit more formal and fancy, so the material must match.
The same is true for the Panama Hat. The straw weave is often very fine and offers a lot of finesse. You may find ribbons, including silk, outside of the hat, and fine linens used as padding inside of the hat. These quality materials help the Panama hat stand out from lesser sun hats.
The Panama Hat enjoyed a surge in popularity towards the end of the 20th century. Many people on vacation in tropical areas started wearing this hat style so they could enjoy some shade. And many people brought these hats home as summer hats.
To this day, Panama Hats are still pretty popular in tropical areas and during the warmer seasons. You’ll find other types of other straw hats too in a variety of shapes and sizes. For example, you can find straw hats that resemble cowboy hats and the like.
The Boater Hat- Another Popular Straw Hat Style
The Panama Hat is far from the only popular summer hat. Another popular warm-weather hat is the Boater hat. This hat is sometimes called the English Panama, Cady, Katie, Sennit hat, or Somer hat. In Japan, this style of hat is sometimes called the can-can hat.
So many names for one hat. As you may have guessed, this hat has been popular in a wide array of cultures and regions. It’s also enjoyed occasional resurgences at times.
The Boater hat was considered a semi-formal hat. You might not wear this hat style to the office, but you definitely could wear it to the company picnic. The hat originally became popular in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Typically, this hat is made of sennit straw and features a stiff crown and brim. The brim is generally narrow compared to a Fedora or cowboy hat. Still, the brim is wide enough to provide some shade come the summer.
Bowler or Derby Hat- Compact and Useful but Classy Too
The Bowler Hat, also known as a Derby Hat, was popular during some of the same times as the Fedora Hat. If you look up photos from decades ago, you may find people wearing Bowler hats alongside others wearing Fedora hats.
This hat was particularly popular in the United Kingdom and Ireland. It became quite popular on the East Coast of the United States as well. Over time, the hat became popular in the West too. Indeed, it’s even been called “the hat that won the West” as it was more popular than the Cowboy hat.
And no, the Bowler hat is not designed for bowling. Instead, it’s named after William and Thomas Bowler, hatmakers commissioned to create a close-fitting, low-crowned hat for gamekeepers. These hats were designed to protect you from branches and weather but are compact enough for slinking around in the woods.
Before the Bowler Hat, a tall top hat was commonly worn by gamekeepers. Top hats were quite popular around the middle of the 19th century but were large and cumbersome. Initially, Bowler hats were popular among the working class but later become popular among well-to-do businessmen or “city-gents.”
And while the Cowboy hat may be the most famous Western hat today, the Bowler hat was actually more common out West. This hat was particularly useful in the windswept West because it couldn’t be easily knocked off by the wind.
Bucket Hat- From Humble Fishing to High Fashion
The Bucket Hat was a popular hat at the turn of the 19th century and was principally made for fishing. Sometimes called the Irish country hat or Session hat, the bucket hat was typically made out of heavy-duty material, such as denim or canvas, rather than fur felt. Heavy tweed hats also became popular over time, especially for people looking for something slightly more formal.
While the Bucket Hat was originally known for utility, it has emerged as a fashion item at times. In the 1960s, this hat became very popular on catwalks and in fashion shows across the world. These days, it’s a popular festival hat, and you’ll often find people wearing them at concerts.
If you’re looking for a casual hat and don’t want to wear a baseball cap, the bucket hat is a good option.