A sea of Panama hats swept over the epochal Pitti Uomo exhibition this year. Classic men and fashion lovers alike topped their heads to shade themselves from the heat and to boost their personal flair.
The hat was probably invented to guard people against extreme sun and heavy rain–and for occupational reasons (think hard hats). Later, ceremonial pomp and religious and military circumstances used hats to show status and to make a statement.
Now hats just look cool, and even if we wear them mainly for their coolness factor, hats remain functional for rainy and sunny days.
Today there are at least eight types of hats that dominate the men’s style scene, particularly in Western Civilization.
Can you name that hat?
(3) PORK PIE
(6) TOP HAT
The hat crown simply means the top of the hat. The crown is dented in different ways. Here’s a fantastic infographic to demonstrate:
* A felt hat with a stiff “kettle curl” brim and a bound edge trim. Note that the Homburg has a single dent on the center of the crown, referred to as a gutter crown.
* The hat was popularized by Edward VII, after visiting Bad Homburg in Hesse, Germany.
* Known as the Eden on Savile Row, Anthony Eden loved to wear the Homburg in the 1930s.
* Dwight Eisenhower decided against the tradition of wearing a top hat to his inauguration in favor of the Homburg! The famed “international hat” is rumored to have taken three months to craft, with hatters from ten countries participating in its making.
* An Ecuadorian white (or light colored) toquilla straw hat with a wide brim and extreme versatility in regard to crown style, pinch or no pinch, brim design, and use of ribbons or bands.
* Although it’s estimated the name “Panama hat” was pegged around the 1830s, Ecuador artisans have been weaving the hats since the early 1600s. The art of weaving the traditional Panama has been added to the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage list as of 2012.
* Associated with seaside and tropical locations, Panamas are particularly lightweight and breathable and are often paired with linen or silk-based suits.
* In the 1800s, miners in California were known to wear the Panama, and during a visit to the construction site of the Panama Canal, U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt was photographed wearing a Panama hat in 1904. Thereafter, film stars began wearing the hat in movies, further propelling its popularity.
* A small round hat with a narrow curled brim, finished with a ribbon. The telescopic crown is flat or slightly domed, with a crease running along the crown perimeter. Amusingly, “pork pie” is a term used to describe hats symbolically resembling the culinary British pork pie dish:
* Women wore a particularly flat version of the hat from the 1830s – 1860s, but at the turn of the 20th century, film star Buster Keaton immortalized the hat for men. He owned more than 1,000 of the hats in his lifetime.
* The slightly enlarged Pork Pie became especially popular during the Great Depression, preferred by Frank Lloyd Wright and jazz musicians, while growing in status during the 1940s among the African American culture.
* Gene Hackman’s character “Jimmy Popeye Doyle” in The French Connectioncreated a resurgence of the Pork Pie hat in the 1970s.
* A stiff sennit straw, flat crowned summer hat with a straight brim, finished with a grosgrain ribbon.
* Preferred by boaters, sailors, rowers and barber shop quartets, the boater hat has made a current-day comeback as a stylish option to pair with a summer suit.
* Ranked along the likes of Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton, Harold Lloyd popularized the boater hat in the 1920s.
*A felt hat with a wide brim and an indented crown, with the signature “pinch” near the front of both sides and several crown possibilities.
* Fedora crowns can be shaped as a teardrop, diamond, gutter, or other. Crown height is about 4.5 inches, with approximately a 2.5 inch brim. Finishing is highly versatile with a variety of ribbon, binding, and welt possibilities.
* “Fedora” was the name of an 1882 play starring Sarah Bernhardt who wore the soft brimmed center-creased hat. Adopted by gangsters and orthodox Jews in the early 1900s and then Prince Edward VII in 1924, the Fedora soon after became enormously popular until around 1960.
* The Fedora saw a revival with the debut of the movie Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981).
* A tall, flat crowned broad brimmed hat originally made of felted beaver fur, later with soft nappy silk, and now made with fur plush. To avert heat, the hat can be topped with black oilcloth. First worn in the mid to late 1700s, the top hat became a rarity after World War II, but is still worn today to formal occasions, particularly in the U.K.
* Associated with the upper class (but also worn by the working class), top hats have been paired with white tie or morning dress, and worn to weddings, race meets like Royal Ascot, state funerals, and diplomatic events (pre-WWII). Policemen and postmen wore the hats in the 1800s to emit a sense of authority.
* The most extreme version of the top hat is the “Stove Pipe”, which was worn by U.S. President Lincoln, who sometimes stored important letters in his hat.
(aka Derby, Billycock, or Bombin)
* A hard felt hat with a rounded crown, and a narrow brim which may or may not have a trimmed edge.
* The bowler was purportedly invented by the brother of the 2nd Earl of Leicester, Edward Coke around 1849. Edward was satisfied with the hat after placing it on the floor and stepping on it twice to verify its strength. From then on, the maker Lock & Company referred to the hat as the “Coke” hat (pronounced cook).
* Forget the cowboy hats and the sombreros…the bowler (aka Derby) was the most popular hat in the American West! Cowboys and railroad workers preferred the hat because it stayed put on windy days, even when peering out the window of a speeding train. Butch Cassidy and Billy the Kid were known to wear a bowler.
* A narrow-brimmed hat made from rabbit hair, tweed, straw or wool, and pinched on both sides with an indented crown. The front brim is snapped down with the back brim turned up and the trilby may be finished with a ribbon and a feather.
* In 1894, the Trilby hat (possible spinoff of the Tyrolean hat) was used in an illustration for the novel “Trilby” by George du Maurier. The novel was an international blockbuster success in which the heroine of the book has the name…you guessed it, Trilby.
* There is a love-hate relationship with the Trilby hat, as some say it is a bastardization of the Fedora while others say it modernized the tired look of old men in hats.