Before I started researching for this post I had plans to take pictures of my hat collection and name/categorise them into the type of hat they were. I’ve since realised that many classifcations of hats aren’t set in stone and many species look alike (the fedora and the trilby are cases of both). In this post I went ahead with the pictures of hats and their classifications anyway but I’ve added some notes about where I see similarities and overlaps.
I plan on writing a Part 2 will concentrate on different ways of wearing and decorating your hat because really, who cares what it’s called as long as it looks awesome?
Believe it or not I have more hats than the ones listed here, but these are the ones that I wear most often.
Trilbies and Fedoras
I read a couple of hat enthusiast forums where it’s suggested trilbies and fedoras actually the British and American versions of the same thing. Other people define trilbies as a subset of fedoras; a trilby has a much shorter brim and it’s usually upturned at the back. The defining feature of these hats is their pinched crown and their soft bendable exterior. These are great to wear casually and with your diselpunk/swing/gangster outfit.
Puzzingly I also own a grey hat that would be a trilby in every way except it has a completely round crown. I’ve yet to come across a particular name for this hat so if you know it I’d love a comment. I bought this in Urban Outfitters for $20 while I was in the USA. Black fedora was a gift from a friend moving overseas, brown fedora was purchased at Myer for $20.
Top Hats, Derby and Bowlers
Top hats are cylindrical hats with a (usually slightly curved) brim. The difference between a top hat and a derby/bowler hat is that the latter has a rounded crowd. These are stiff hats that are meant to keep their shape. I’d wear these for period looks – depending what outfit you where with these hats they’d equally fit aristocrat to street urchin and everything in-between.
Very short top hat from Wildilocks $55, middle top hat was a birthday gift, right bowler hat is actually a cheater’s costume hat made out of cardboard-ish stuff but I got it for $3 at the Melbourne Show.
Honourable mention: Homburg is like evolutionary link between fedoras and top hats because it’s a stiff hat with a dent.
Caps a hats that fit close over the head with a visor but no brim. This is a peaked cap I bought from Camberwell Market for $15 and a newsboy cap I got from Target for $10. Many of these styles of caps evoke a militaristic style but I’ve also heard them described as “chauffeur” hats.
A beret is a type of round cap that’s soft and doesn’t have a visor. They’re sort of my beanie replacement on a cold day since they’re both compact, soft hats, but berets look much classier. Black for looking like a bohemian artiste, red for looking like a military guard, crocheted for looking like a hipster. Target $10, Thrifted $3, Myer $10.
The tricorn was made from a wide-brim hat by stitching the brim onto the crown. It’s not a proper tricorn by any means and it looks a bit funny because the crown should be significantly lower than the upturned sides. But the wide-brim hat was only $10 or so from Target and so this DIY version was a lot cheaper and easier than buying or making the real thing.
The mini top hat stays on with some elastic that pulls around the back of my head. I like wearing it on the side and to the front with burlesque-style outfits. I love the shape and how it sits, but it came at a heavy price for $40 at Cleggs.