The classic gangster hat, traditionally a fedora or homburg, has come back into vogue among fashionable men and modern-day "gangstas" alike. Shows of wealth and style have been a big part of gangster culture since the iconic 1920s, and hats make a prominent addition to the wardrobe of a classic criminal businessman. Today, men's vintage gangster hats are incorporated into current fashion aesthetics and are displayed with as much flair as ever.
The fedora is a formal felt hat with a front-to-back crease, a pinched front, and a wide brim. This hat is often seen in films paired with a trenchcoat and worn by both gangster and detective characters. The homburg is much like the fedora, in that it is also made of felt and has a center crease running from the front to the back of the head. Homburgs, however, have no pinches and are usually worn with the brim turned up all the way around the head. Unlike traditional homburgs, the iconic homburg worn in "The Godfather" has a wider brim that is more drastically turned up at the sides.
Fedoras and homburgs came into existence before the gangster heyday. The fedora, often referred to as the "gangster fedora," came into style at the end of the 19th century and was popular among many different types of men. The hat became associated with gangsters in the Prohibition era, when Zoot suit-wearing criminals topped off their looks with the wide-brimmed fedora. Fedora style changed with the years, becoming taller and small-brimmed in the 1950s and expanding in color choice in the present day. Popularized in England in the early 20th century, the homburg was also worn by American gangsters throughout the decades, and rose again into the public consciousness in the 1970s as a result of the film "The Godfather."
Men's vintage gangster hats can come in many variations of style and shape that usually affect the brim and the height of the hat. Prohibition-era vintage gangster hats usually have a wider brim and shorter crown than the later World War II "mafia" style hats, which are tall and often feature snap brims turned up at the back of the head. Both hat variations traditionally come in flat grays, browns and blacks, although in modern times the gangster hat color palette has been expanded to include a wild variety of bright hues and patterns. Also, there are now women's versions of the vintage gangster hat, popularized by the music industry and scaled down to suit young girls.
The way a men's vintage gangster hat is worn is supposed to tell something about the wearer. In the old days, hats were tilted and brims flipped in various ways to create a dangerous, rebellious effect. They were also handled in a particular way to portray a sense of class and style. Fedoras and homburgs were removed by grasping the crown with one hand, and were usually taken off indoors and in the presence of a lady. Today there are few rules of etiquette for hat-wearing, but men's vintage gangster hats are still worn flipped and tilted to display personality.
A gangster hat is usually worn to top off or complete a unified formal look. Gangsters of the 1920s and 1930s wore their top-of-the-line fedoras and homburgs with trendy suits. Al Capone was well-known for his expensive suits, coats, silk shirts and ties, jewelry and naturally the famous Borsalino fedora. Today's men's vintage gangster hats are worn with quirky modern suits and sneakers, youthful business attire and even informal everyday outfits that are made special by the addition of a gangster hat.
- Photographed by Jean Scheijen / vierdrie at http://www.vierdrie.nl