Know Your Bowler & Derby Hats

While it is becoming increasingly rare in contemporary fashion, the bowler hat is a true classic in menswear. But what are its roots, how can it be worn today, and why does it have far too many different names? Today, we’ll go over the types of hat in-depth, its long and strange history, and how to wear it stylishly.

What Is a Bowler or Derby Hat?

The traditional bowler hat is called the Billycock, Bombin, Bob Hat, and Derby Hat. Unlike the traditional top hat that came before it, the bowler hat is distinguished by its distinctive round crown. The brim is typically upturned and short, though dozens of modern versions have varying brims.

The bowler was traditionally a black felt hat men wore as a semi-formal accessory. Bowler hats are now available in various colors and styles for both women and men.

Difference Between Bowler and Derby Hats

What is the distinction between a bowler hat and a derby hat? It’s a great question with a plain answer: nothing except the name. The only difference between bowlers and derbies is that “Derby Hat” is the American name and “Bowler Hat” is the British name.

So, if you’re trying to pick between a bowler hat and a derby hat, the only thing to consider is which name you want to use.

Why are there different names for one hat? It’s how things turned out as the hats gained popularity in both countries. Because of how they originated and were used, they were referred to as Bowlers in the United Kingdom and Derby hats in the United States.

History and Importance

A bowler or derby hat is a traditional hard-felt hat with a thin grosgrain band, a well-rounded crown, and a short curved brim. This iconic hat is thought to have originated in London in 1849 when London hatmakers designed it. The bowler hat was created to address the problem of gamekeepers’ tophats that are too fragile and frequently being knocked off by branches while riding horses.

A British soldier, Edward Coke, commissioned the design. Some of the past gamekeepers’ tophats weren’t close-fitting or long-lasting, aside from being knocked off by branches.

For almost all of the nineteenth century, this hat was a popular classic accessory among the British working class. Later in the twentieth century, its fame grew among businessmen working in high-powered financial districts known as ‘City gents.’

Due to cross-border movements, this hat design quickly made its way into the American market, where it became popular for its cross-fitting nature, unique design, and durability. The Americans dubbed it the “Derby hat.”

Historically, these classic headpieces drew celebrities like Winston Churchill, Charlie Chaplain, and John Bonham. Although wearing hats has declined in the modern world, derby or bowler hats continue to be popular among men and women seeking a distinct sense of style.

Most of these hats are now designed with various accent options in the crown to fulfill every fashionable desire while maintaining a modern appearance. These stylish unisex hats have the added benefit of being crushable, making them easy to pack and bring along on any adventure.

How to Wear a Bowler Hat

a bearded man in black formal clothing wearing sunglasses and a bolwer hat while holding the hat’s brim

One of the bowler hat’s main advantages as a fashion accessory is its versatility. It is not only unisex, but it can also go with a variety of outfits and styles. Furthermore, you can wear a bowler hat in various positions depending on the time of day, your hair, or your mood!

Though you can wear a bowler hat with virtually any hair length, it is easiest to mix the hat with short hair. If your hair is short, you can don the bowler hat as usual, with the crown lowered far enough to leave space between the hat and the top of your head.

There should also be visible space between the top of your ears and the brim. Because the brim remains flat, this is often referred to as the standard or “flat” style.

While the flat style is appropriate for semi-formal or formal occasions, you may also want to learn how to wear the bowler hat casually. Fortunately, regardless of hair length, the less formal styles are essentially the same for both women and men.

The bowler hat should be worn lightly on the head, with the brim facing upward. This has become among the most popular ways of wearing a bowler hat in recent years.

In addition, you can wear the bowler with the brim slightly lowered. In other words, while the brim’s front is pointed downward, the crown can be perched more tightly on the head. This style may protect the eyes or face from the wind or sun or maintain anonymity!

Finally, there are numerous ways to wear a derby or bowler hat that can be tailored to different styles or environments. Bowler hats with the brim tilted to one side have been popular among musicians (especially jazz musicians). This style is casual but more likely to catch the eye because it is a clear departure from the other bowler hat positioning options.

Fashion Tips for a Bowler or Derby Hat

A bowler hat is an ideal accessory for a man looking to add to his sense of style and a woman looking to add a touch of masculinity to her attire. As a result, the fashion tips for this elegant hat differ depending on the wearer.

Tips for Men

If you wish to stand out from the crowd, pair your derby or bowler with a pinstripe suit, matching brogues, and a well-worn trench coat. If you prefer a casual look, pair your cap with a matching white shirt, a classy leather jacket, a pair of well-fitting denim trousers, and chunky leather boots. This combination creates a fantastic casual look!

When wearing this iconic hat, remember to wear it as if you had just thrown it over your head and forgot about it. This carefree tip is the key to achieving a nonchalant appearance.

Tips for Women


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Any woman who wants to exude boyish charm can add a derby or bowler to her wardrobe. Wear your derby or bowler hats with inspired menswear like oversized blazers, boyfriend jeans, or high-heeled loafers. Women can also add definition to their look by wearing bowlers with a swing skirt and a floral blouse.

Wear your derby with a leather biker jacket and chunky practical boots to create a rebellious look. Pair a black derby or bowler hat with a long black trench coat if you have the guts and wish to evoke a sense of mystery. Everyone will be amazed to discover what lies beneath the mysterious appearance.

Whatever look you go for, ensure your confidence is high, and you walk with poise.