As hats have found popularity, terms such as gambler, fedora, safari, bowler, and others have gained currency. The issue is that people aren’t always sure which style they want, and we frequently hear people say they want this style when talking about another.
Consider this your primer on hat styles, so you can be confident you know what you’re talking about!
Hats for Outdoor Activities/Sports
Those who participate in or play outdoor sports understand how harsh and distracting the sun can be. As a result, many hats are specifically developed with broad brims for prolonged sun and cold exposure.
The outdoor sports enthusiast’s best friend, the balaclava, traditionally covers the full face, leaving only the nostrils, eyes, and mouth visible. These can be worn under a helmet and provide cold weather and sun protection.
Bucket hats are the 90s as they come, but they were invented in Ireland in the early 1900s. These loose-fitting hats are popular with everyone from break dancers to fishermen. They’re quirky, comfortable, and a good way to keep your head dry if you don’t have an umbrella.
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Although they were initially made of straw, they were quickly adapted to be made of soft cotton, with a stiff bill and rounded crown, and were worn by multiple professions as part of their uniform. Baseball hats are worn by both men and women, whether they’re attending a sporting event, running errands, or going for a run. They are widely used and extremely versatile.
Water Sport/Fishing Hat
When participating in water activities, it is critical to wear a hat that provides adequate sun protection and is made of a material that will not be destroyed by salt and water. The width of the brim is critical. As sun protection awareness has grown, nylon-based remarkably wide-brimmed hats have become more prominent because they are more sun protective.
The ever-popular garden hat caters to those looking for a sun-protective, lightweight hat to keep them shaded while trying to work outside. Brim widths vary, but garden hats are typically made of straw to allow air circulation and include an adjustable chin strap to keep them from falling off during activities or in the wind.
Though originally intended for use in sports, sports visors are now commonly seen around beaches and sporting events for those seeking to protect their face and eyes from the sun. They allow for rapid heat loss from the crown of the head, which is essential for high cardio sports like tennis. They are commonly secured with an adjustable Velcro fastener at the back.
Though much has changed in fashion over the last century, wearing a hat to convey one’s fashion has not. Even hats worn for sun protection come in various colors, shapes, and materials to express every individual’s sense of style. Let’s look at some of the various fashion hats that are sweeping the beaches and streets!
Western hats, also called Cowgirl or Cowboy hats, have a unique wide-brimmed high crown and are the defining piece of American Cowboy attire. The wide brim provides sun protection, and they are commonly waterproof.
Buckles and bows are common modern additions to the cowboy hat, and materials include wool, felt, and, less frequently, leather (check out how to care for your leather hat here!). The most common colors are beige, black, and brown.
Have you ever wondered where the term “beanie” came from? According to legend, “bean” was slang for “head!” in the early twentieth century. Beanie hats are essential for chilly weather, whether slouchy, cuffed, or have a pom-pom on top.
While providing excellent sun protection, the dynamic wide brim floppy hat calls out to every beach and city-goer with its fun, statement-making, and limitless styling. The floppy hat, typically made of straw but can also be made of other materials such as wool and polyester, is a must-have accessory for summer due to its sun-protective wide brim!
European Fascinators and Hats
Folks must wear hats for formal occasions such as a Christening or a wedding in England and many other European countries. Fascinators are hats without a brim or crown that are often decorated with beads, flowers, and/or feathers to match the wearer’s outfit.
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Unsurprisingly, the boater hat is the most photographed hat on Instagram, owing to its unisex and versatile appeal. It also has a charming European feel to it. The boater, originally a semi-formal men’s hat, has been embraced by women.
Panama Hats and Fedoras
Fedora hats have a devoted following in the art and music communities, having been worn by Frank Sinatra and Humphrey Bogart and later adopted by Britney Spears, Michael Jackson, and Justin Timberlake, to name a few.
Fedoras have a pinched crown, a wide brim, and a ribbon. A true fedora is traditionally made of wool or felt; however, newer fedoras are usually made of straw and paper to accommodate increasing sun-protective demand while maintaining the fedora shape.
Many mistake Fedora and Panama hats for the same thing, but they are not. Despite their origins in Ecuador, Panama hats were brought to the world stage in the 1850s at the bustling trade center of Panama.
Panama hats are constructed from a special light-colored and lightweight toquilla palm straw. They are often associated with a fedora shape, but they’re also made in a boater or other style.
When one thinks of the Del Mar or Kentucky Derby, one can’t help but think of the high-fashion hats with wide, fun colors and dramatic brims commonly seen on opening day. One style, made popular by Audrey Hepburn in the 1961 movie Breakfast at Tiffany’s, resembles a lampshade and offers a dramatic style to any ensemble and excellent sun protection.
Made primarily of tweed fabric at the time and also known as a flat cap by many, this hat resurfaced in pop culture with Peaky Blinders in 2013, where many of the central protagonists wear newsboy hats throughout the tv series as was popular in Ireland/England at the period the show is set. Today, even the Royal Family, as spotted on Prince William, wears it in various fabrics other than tweed, ranging from wool to leather.
The beret, a soft, round, flat-crowned cap once known as a peasants hat in Europe, has evolved as a fashion item and, in many cases, a political statement throughout the twentieth century. It exudes bohemian chic and has become a favorite headpiece of many political revolutionaries.
The Pillbox was typically made of a thin veil, solid colors, pearls, feathers, or even small nets that could be elaborate or simple. Famously worn by Jaclyn Kennedy, who was not a hat fan but was drawn to the elegant and simple aesthetic that a pillbox hat exudes. Her style became synonymous with the pillbox hat.
Historically, there have been so many other hat types, but these are the ones you’ll see on the street and on the runway, where many of us get our fashion inspiration nowadays.