Men’s fedora hats are felt hats that have a crease along the length of the crown and are pinched on both sides in the front. There are similar hats with an indent for the head at the top of the crown (a C crown) which are often called fedoras. The brim goes the whole way around and will often have a hat band. The trilby hat is not dissimilar to a fedora, but normally it will have a brim that is less broad with the brim distinctly more upturned as a result.
Originally, a female fashion statement going into the twentieth century, the term fedora was a male clothing accessory for the middle classes which started to be used . Popularity grew to the extent that by the early’s, it had taken over from the Homburg which was similar in design. Fedoras come in a variety of colours including black, grey, brown, tan and red.
Fedora as a word is taken from a late nineteenth century play by Victorien Sardou, which was written specifically for Sarah Bernhardt. The play, saw Bernhardt play Princess Fedora wearing Fedora hats similar to a fedora. It was from this that it became a popular female fashion trend into early twentieth century.
They became popular with men in bigger cities for its style and ability to shield one’s head from the elements of wind and rain and the fact that it could be rolled up when not being used. Many Haredi and other orthodox Jews have worn black fedoras since the early 20th century and still do today.
The fedora is often associated with the era that saw the Great Depression and Prohibition with fedoras being worn by gangster types and detectives who brought them to justice for their criminal deeds. In Hollywood films throughout, the hat was often worn by characters playing the role of a private detective or other perceived tough guy roles. Indeed, it was also used in films throughout the fifties with people like Gene Kelly sporting one in the classic ‘Singin’ in the rain.’
Frequently accompanying the fedora was the trench coat and it became somewhat of a costume, the most notable example being the character of Rick in the film Casablanca, played by Humphrey Bogart. Other iconic performances from fedora wearing actors include the Blues Brothers (Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi), Freddy Kruger (Nightmare on Elm Street), and the unforgettable Indiana Jones series of movies. The hat is also associated with the film noir genre.
The Fedora began to lose popularity by the late’s, particularly on the west coast of the United States, which is renowned for its more casual style of clothing. The switch from wide to narrow lapels resulted in hats with shorter brims, deeming the fedora redundant. Another factor was the smaller cars being manufactured which made driving when wearing a hat more difficult.