The Lowdown: How To Wear A Hat
The hat is a much-maligned piece of clothing these days. It seems like someone is always complaining or making snarky remarks about the gentleman’s chapeau, but it’s only because they fear what they do not understand how to wear a hat. Not only is a hat a suave way to finish off an outfit, it’s also a versatile, functional men’s accessory that’s appropriate in any season. Sun, snow, rain, sleet…there’s almost nothing Mother Nature can throw at you that won’t be assuaged by the addition of a hat.
Brush up on the different kinds available, then surf through our gallery of headgear inspiration and ideas. You’ll soon see the hat is an effortless and inspired final touch.
Our Favourite Types Of Hats
Hat styles get as creative as the people who wear them, but these are the basics you need to know.
Originally from Ecuador, the Panama hat was traditionally made from the plaited leaves of a palm-like plant. The Panama is light in colour and often associated with seaside and tropical locales (along with notable names like Teddy Roosevelt and Humphrey Bogart). Because it’s lightweight and breathable, the Panama is ideal for wear in warmer weather with summer suits.
Before it was the unfair subject of Internet ridicule, the fedora was a staple in stylish men’s wardrobes. The felt hat is distinguished by the lengthwise crease down the crown and the “pinch” on either side near the front. Famous fedora wearers include Indiana Jones, Michael Jackson and Johnny Depp.
The bowler was originally created for Edward Coke – British soldier, politician and younger brother of the 2nd Earl of Leicester – as an alternative to the top hat in 1849. Following its introduction, the close-fitting, low-crowned hat became popular across classes in the UK, eventually finding its way to Europe and its most famous fan: Belgian surrealist René Magritte.
The late 1800s saw the amateur Brooklyn Excelsiors team debut the predecessor of the contemporary rounded-top baseball cap. These days, the baseball cap is soft, with a rounded crown and a stiff brim projecting from the front. The back may be fitted specifically to the wearer’s size or have a plastic, Velcro or elastic adjuster.
Snapback is an urban slang term for a specific variety of baseball cap. The snapback is nearly identical to the typical fitted, flat-billed baseball cap, but features an adjustable flat brim. They are less expensive than traditional baseball caps, but infinitely more trendy in urban music and fashion circles.
Often confused for the fedora, the trilby takes its name from the stage adaptation of George du Maurier’s novel Trilby. While a fedora has a wider, flatter brim, a trilby has a narrower brim that is angled down at the front and slightly curved up at the back. Think Bruno Mars.
As the name suggests, the newsboy hat came to be associated with newspaper boys though it was not, in fact, worn only by boys. The style was common for men of all ages and classes during the early 20th century, though lower classes wore it to work while the upper classes worn it for leisure activities.
Made of stiff straw with a grosgrain ribbon around the crown, the boater is typically considered a formal warm weather hat. Boaters were initially popular in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, especially for boating or sailing, and now are generally only seen in school uniforms, period theatre pieces and barbershop musical performances.
The beanie is a knit cap made of wool designed to keep the head warm in cool weather. Its variations and names are many, and it’s now become widely popular regardless of the season. Pop one on when you want to feel like The Edge or Bill Murray in The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou.
The name “pork pie” has been applied to several different styles of hats that have been in and out of fashion since the mid-19th century. Like the culinary dish it’s named after, the pork pie hat is small and round with a low, flat crown with a crease along the inside top edge and a narrow brim.
Click through the gallery to see them all in action.