Iconic Hats

Top Hats

If the bowler connoted a more democratic future, the top hat, most certainly represented, in the words of hat historian Colin McDowell, ". . . the power of political conservatism and the rule of the status quo." The top hat traces its origins to the tall sugar loaf hats of the late Middle Ages and Renaissance. Read more

Fedora Hats

Humphrey Bogart and James Cagney. Clark Kent and FDR. What happened to the Bowler and the Top Hat? After all, for most of the 20th Century, up until 1960 when John Kennedy took off his hat at his presidential inauguration, men were not considered dressed for work without a hat. In that century, the fedora was king (also known as a trilby hat in Europe) supplanting, in short order, all other styles for men. Read more

The Cowboy Hat

Although associated with the American West, the cowboy hat, arguably, is not an American creation. Arguably because there is no doubt that hats with big brims and large crowns had been popular in Mexico, coming to Mexico from Spain, well before "the American West was won". Historians trace the origins in Spain to the European invasions by the very accomplished horsemen from Mongolia. Read more

The Beret

Although worn as military headgear in ancient Greece, the modern origin of the beret is traced to the Basques, people living on both the French and Spanish sides of the Pyrenees Mountains. Centuries ago, the Basques were great fishermen and sailors, a fact that might explain the appearance of a very similar hat in Scotland. Read more

Bowler Hats

When you picture Laurel and Hardy, Charlie Chaplin, a Rene Magritte work of art, the four major characters in Samuel Beckett's "Waiting for Godot", or a well dressed British banker, a bowler hat, known also as a derby, almost certainly comes to mind. The bowler, perhaps like no other hat before or since, stands unambiguously as a symbol for an age, a passage in western civilization. Read more

The Fez

The fez has a long and complicated history in the Middle East, Eastern Europe, and North Africa. I am not an historian and am not entirely familiar with the fez's nuances of meaning in these parts of the world. However, I do know this: for most Muslims, this hat is now politically incorrect. Read more

The Baseball Cap

The baseball cap is an American icon. It is in fact the only hat style that is an American creation. Its popularity in the United States received a big boost in the era of Babe Ruth, when baseball fans wore the cap as a badge of identification with their favorite team. Read more