Felt hats have been worn by men and women since the fourteenth century. For generations, no self-respecting man or woman would be seen outside without a hat. Today, people wear felt hats for a variety of reasons, both practical and frivolous. Both men and women wear hats strictly for fashion, to complement an outfit or for a special occasion.
The fedora was originally a man’s hat but has since been adapted for women as well. The brim in this felt hat is pulled down low in the front, and the crown has a lengthwise crease. It is also known as a gangster hat because of its association with criminals in the 1930s. At that time, common colors were blue, green and purple. In more recent years, the hat regained popularity, appearing in neutral colors such as brown, tan and black.
A beret is a felt hat without a brim. It has a wide, circular crown area that hugs the head. It is fashionable to wear this hat at a slight angle to the side. Worn by working classes in the 1920s, the beret originated in France. Today, both men and women wear berets. The beret is a casual hat that stores easily, fitting into most handbags or a pocket. Some military organizations have adopted the beret as part of their uniforms.
A cloche is a soft felt hat worn only by women. It was popular in the 1920s and was part of the flapper look. Women considered the bell-shaped hat the height of fashion, and it is still stylish today. The flattering hat hugs the head, dipping down to the neck in back and covering the forehead in front. The cloche is a practical hat to wear for warmth. A cloche hat often has a hat band, flower or other embellishment as an accent.
With its wide brim and high, creased crown, the cowboy hat is one of the most recognizable of all hats. John Stetson created this hat in 1865 during a trek to the western United States. Cowboys and ranchers needed a hat to protect them while they worked from the sun and other harsh elements. Today, men and women wear felt cowboy hats for work, play and special occasions.
Derby or Bowler
A derby hat is typically a man’s hat. It has a hard, domed crown and a narrow, curled brim. A derby is usually black or brown, with a matching hat band at the base of the crown. Historically, the derby was worn while horseback riding. The derby was created by a man named William Bowler and was later renamed the bowler hat after him.
The homburg is a felt hat with a tapered, creased crown and rolled edge brim. It is elegant, stylish and typically worn by men. Homburgs became fashionable in 1890 after the Prince of Wales brought one back from a visit to Germany. Hollywood celebrities wore this hat in the 1940s and 1950s. The homburg enjoyed a revival during the 1990s, when it was worn by rappers in the music industry.