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Fedora Hat vs Bowler Hat

Fashions go in and out of style with some regularity. Hats do, too. Men, women, children, the English police, and even cartoon characters have worn a fedora hat or a bowler hat. What makes them special? Why wear a hat at all? Read on to find out

A man wearing a black suit with umbrella and a bowler hat.

Categorizing people just isn’t me. I have to admit that there are certain types of people versus other types of people, though. One type wears hats, and the other type doesn’t. The hat wearers are devoted to their hats, wearing their favorite hat style for any occasion all year round. The other type wouldn’t wear a hat if you paid them to wear one.

I, personally, have been forced to wear a flat cap with a brim for certain types of work, such as delivering food or working around food in a restaurant or deli. Aside from that, I’m in the non-hat lovers category. My problem is that hats keep in your body heat, and that’s a killer in a Southern August. Cold-natured people might like that and wear lots of hats, but we hot-natured people can’t take the heat, pardon the pun.

Now, it’s a fact that a fashionable hat looks good on guys. Whether for professional use or street use, certain types of hats give guys an aura of cool that non-hat-wearing guys can’t pull off. Picture Bogart and Indiana Jones. The hat that breathes keeps them another kind of cool. The hot rays of the sun just bounce right off the crown and wide brim of the hat. It keeps the wearer from having a heatstroke.

Even women have gotten into the act. Watch the runways, and you’ll see hats topping office wear as well as streetwear. You’ll even see some sports figures wearing fedora hats. Look into the crowd at a ball game, and you’ll see fans wearing the colors of their favorite team on a fedora hat.

So, hats are useful as well as decorative things. The big question is what type of hat to wear? It’s a question of fedora hat vs bowler hat. Fedora hats are just as distinctive as bowler hats. Don’t believe us? Check out Beyonce, Eva Longoria, and Jennifer Lawrence wearing bowler hats here. Notice how man’s man Humphrey Bogart, Justin Timberlake, and Johnny Depp rock their fedoras here.

Table of Contents

What is a Fedora Hat?

This is a close look at a brown fedora with black band.

Where They Were First Seen

French actress Sarah Bernhardt played the leading lady in a play called Fedora. She played a character called Princess Fedora Romanov. She wore for the first time ever a soft hat pinched at the sides and recessed on the top with a semi-wide brim and grosgrain ribbon around the rounded crown.

The hat was a hit. It soon became the symbol for the women’s rights movement, moving on to being worn by royalty, movie stars, and anyone else who wanted to be in style.

How They’re Made

Originally made of felt, the hat was soft enough to be folded or stuffed into a suitcase. It would fit any wearer’s head without losing its shape. Today’s fedora hats are made of felted rabbit, wool, cotton, leather, straw, or linen. They’re lightweight, durable, and keep out the weather better than other hats.

Fedoras are made by placing felt or some other material over a metal mold. A sealant is sprayed over the material to help it keep its shape. The wide brim is hemmed, a ribbon placed around the crown of the hat, and voila! You have a fedora hat. They can be made in any color you wish, but black, brown, and gray are the most popular colors for a fedora hat.

Who Wears Fedoras

The hat has been worn by everyone from Michael Jackson in his videos to Frank Sinatra, Jimmy Durante, Freddie Krueger, and Al Capone. In the opposite direction, cartoon characters have been known to sport fedoras: Carmen Sandiego, Inspector Gadget, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Chip and Dale, Snoopy’s brother Spike, and Dick Tracy.

Other Names For Fedoras

This is a brown woven trilby hat with black leather band.

Depending on what country you come from, hats and other things are popularly called by different names. The trunk of a car in America would be the boot in England, for example. So it is with hats. Fedora hats are also called trilby hats, Panama hats, bucket hats, boater hats, straw hats, Stetson hat, and busby hats, among others.

What is a Bowler Hat?

A man wearing a black pin-striped suit with a black bowler hat.

Where They Were First Seen

There is some question whether the bowler hat was first seen on the heads of polo players, or if they were commissioned for gamekeepers on an estate. Either way, the hat-making firm of James Lock and Company designed the first bowler hat. It was manufactured by hat-makers Thomas and William Bowler (some say Bowers.)

The whole thing came about when Thomas Coke (pronounced Cook) needed a close-fitting hat for his gamekeepers. Top hats fell off, got dirty, and were trampled by the horses. Replacing them got expensive. The story goes that the hat was invented for the brother of the second Earl of Leicester, Edward Coke. Whichever version of the story is true, the fact remains that the bowler hat was made for this family.

How They’re Made

A bowler hat is a hard hat with a round crown and a medium-curled brim at the sides. It’s worn over the whole head across the brow and fits tightly to the head for protection from the harmful rays of the sun. A grosgrain ribbon sits at the base of the round crown.

It’s made by wetting a piece of animal felt. The wet textile is placed over a hat form and rubbed down to shape it. The stiff hat dries overnight. When it’s dry, a sweatband is sewn inside the hat. The grosgrain ribbon is sewn around the bottom of the crown. Stitch the brim properly, and you have a bowler hat.

Who Wears Bowler Hats

A man wearing a dark suit with a matching bowler hat.

Men and women wear them, children, and even their dolls wear bowler hats. By the late 1800s, the bowler hat had been adopted by the English military, its police force, politicians, and the aristocracy. By the turn of the century, everyone wore them. The hat took Europe by storm. It even made its impression on Americans.

Today, hats seem to be making a comeback. Of course, they’re worn by prominent men, and they’re worn in movies, so many men take that to mean they can, too. Just check out pictures of Prince Charles and his son, Prince William, sporting bowler hats.

They’re taking after Winston Churchill, who wore one as well. Celebrities who wear bowler hats include Sir John Gielgud, Paul McCartney, Charlie Chaplin, Greta Garbo, Russell Brand, and Boy George.

Other Names For Bowler Hats

Bowler hats are called by different names all over the world. For instance, the Spanish call it a bombin. The English call it a billycock, or a bob hat. Americans call it a derby hat.

Fedora Hat vs Bowler Hat Pros And Cons

A man wearing yellow polo shirt and a fedora.

Hats come in handy in winter, because they keep your head and ears warm. They keep your body heat inside your body where it belongs. Protection from the weather isn’t all, though. Another benefit of wearing hats is to keep the sun from damaging your facial skin and eyes. Skin cancer is a thing, so hats are a definite bonus.

There aren’t many disadvantages to wearing a fedora or a bowler hat, but the few there are make a difference. For example, how tight you wear your hat could cause headaches. Tightly worn hats pull out your hair. Hats worn all day everyday trap oils at the roots of the hair or in the follicles. The ends end up dried out. Hats do not cause hair loss; however, they do cause “hat hair.”

Fedora Hat vs Bowler Hat: Where To Buy Them

A man wearing a dark suit and a fedora.

The unfortunate saying that you get what you pay for is true. Mass-produced articles don’t have the life of a custom article. Take hats, for example. The soft fedora hat, while collapsible, won’t last as long as a custom hat. The bowler hat is made painstakingly and individually. There’s quality in that, so the bowler hat will last longer.

You should buy your fedora or bowler hat from a hatter. Most cities have one; in Baltimore, it’s Hats in the Belfry. Not far from Tulsa, it’s Circle M Hats in Broken Arrow, OK. Of course, there are hatters online as well as Amazon if there are no hatters in your city.

FAQs

What’s The Difference Between A Fedora Hat And A Homburg Hat?

The fedora is indented on the top of the crown with a pinched area at the front of the crown. A homburg only has an indent on the top of the crown.

Why Is Wearing A Hat Indoors Rude?

Hats were removed back in the day due to cars and other transport coming with hard tops instead of a convertible. Then the hat was replaced on the head when the rider exited the car. It became ill-mannered to wear a hat indoors not long after due to, of all things, the weather. Would you prefer the rain, dust, or other effluvia from the out of doors falling onto your formal gown, your hair, or in your food? So that’s why men remove their hats indoors.

The military, however, is a different story. Their hats are called “covers,” and the removal of a cover indoors is about respect. There are whole pages of etiquette governing saluting with and without a cover, indoors and outdoors wearing of covers, as well as wearing the cover at a funeral or on a military airplane.

What Does Wearing A Fedora Hat Symbolize?

At the dawning of the hat, it was worn by the newly established women’s rights movement in Europe in the late 1800s. In the early 1900s, Edward, Prince of Wales, began wearing a fedora. When men saw that, they wore them, too. Now, fedoras are worn by men and women all over the globe.

What Does Wearing A Bowler Hat Symbolize?

Hat wearing at all, let alone bowler hat-wearing, used to symbolize the height of fashion and respect. The upper classes and royalty wore bowler hats, but men in few other classes did. Today, of course, wearing a bowler hat is a matter of practicality and comfort. They’re fashionable, yes, but anyone can wear them.

Are Hats In Style In 2021?

Absolutely. Men can choose between about 15 types of hats, including fedora hats and bowler hats.