Introduction to Men’s Headwear – The Hat

Gentlemen have been covering their heads since, well, since the first gentleman figured out he could keep his head warm and look sharp doing so.

The modern hat comes from a long tradition of using headwear not only to protect one’s head form the elements, but also to communicate status and rank. Various professions used a distinctive hat to show their occupation. Various hats were worn by clergy, soldiers, scholars, tradesmen and nobility throughout ancient times and the medieval era. The modern gentleman’s hat springs out of these traditions, specifically the use of felt hats in the military and the clergy.

Richard Hooker wearing the Canterbury cap of British Clergy

Richard Hooker wearing the Canterbury cap of British Clergy

Sailors from Elizabethan times are known to have adopted the Monmouth cap as their hat. They were mentioned by Shakespeare in his play Henry V, Act 4, Scene 7,

“the Welshmen did good service in garden where leeks did grow, wearing leeks in their Monmouth caps; which your Majesty know to this hour is an honourable badge of the service”.

Original 16th Century Monmouth Cap from Wales

Original 16th Century Monmouth Cap from Wales sans Leek

The hats for men in the 20th century evolved from their predecessors in the 18th and 19th century. I will detail more on the specific histories of the various styles of hats we now call ‘formal’ men’s hats in their own separate posts. Here is a short list of some of the more stylish men’s hats still worn, in no particular order:

  • the Fedora
  • the Top Hat
  • the Bowler
  • the Boater
  • the Panama
  • the Ascot Cap
  • the Beret
  • the Deerstalker
  • the Fez
  • the Flat Cap
  • the Homburg
  • the Glengarry
  • the Porkpie
  • the Tam o’Shanter
  • the Trilby

According to wikipedia, “A hat consists of four main parts:

Crown – The portion of a hat covering the top of the head

Peak (British English), visor (American English), or bill, a stiff projection at the front, to shade or shield the eyes from sun and rain

Brim, an optional projection of stiff material from the bottom of the hat’s crown horizontally all around the circumference of the hat

Puggaree (British) or sweatband or hatband (American), a ribbon or band that runs around the bottom of the torso of the hat. The sweatband may be adjustable with a cord or rope at the top and is on the inside of the hat touching the skin while the hatband and puggaree are around the outside.

There is also an excellent introduction to hat terminology in the Fedora Lounge forum threads – An Intro to Hat Terminology.

And I would be remiss if I ended the post without including some excellent examples of stylish men wearing their hats, so here you are:

Frank Sinatra wearing a fedora

Frank Sinatra Wearing a Short Brimmed Fedora

Cary Grant in a Bowler

Cary Grant in a Bowler

Fred Astaire in a Boater

Fred Astaire in a Straw Boater

 

Benedict Cumberbatch Doffing His Top Hat

Benedict Cumberbatch Doffing His Top Hat

 

Ryan Gosling in a Wide Brimmed Fedora

Ryan Gosling in a Wide Brimmed Fedora

 

Edward, Prince of Wales in a Soft Cap

Edward, Prince of Wales in a Flat Cap

 

Edward, the Prince of Wales, Sporting His Homburg

Edward, the Prince of Wales, Sporting His Homburg

New Year’s Eve Outfit 2013

 

New Year's Eve Outfit 2013 in Vintage Formal White Tie

New Year’s Eve Outfit 2013 in Vintage Formal White Tie

New Year’s Eve Outfit – white cotton formal shirt with mother-of-pearl studs, white cotton bow tie, white cotton waistcoat, white wool tailcoat and white silk pocket square.

Toronto School for Gentlemen Course – Shaving with Straight and Safety Razors

Shaving with Straight Razors

Shaving with Straight Razors

The Toronto School for Gentlemen is an ongoing series of workshops on the art of living an elegant life, focusing on skills in dress, hygiene, etiquette, entertaining, conversation and more. In other words, a 21st century finishing school for men.

Shaving with Straight and Safety Razors

Shaving with Straight and Safety Razors

Our next session is “The Art of the Classic Wet Shave” and will include tips and advice on double-edged and straight razors, brushes and soaps, pre- and post-shave treatments. You will learn how to achieve a better shave, enjoy the process and save money. This session takes place Monday, October 28th at 8pm at Hollow Ground Barber Shop, 1053 Bloor St. West. Registration is $25 and can be purchased by clicking below. Returning students receive a $5 discount!

New Students Register here!

Returning Students Register here!

Your instructors are Jonathan Hagey, proprietor of Kingpin’s Hideaway, head writer of Kingpin Chic, a blog about gentlemen’s style and “the dandiest of dandies of them all” according to blogTO, and Pedro Mendes, writer and broadcaster at CBC Radio specializing in men’s issues and menswear.

Toronto School For Gentlemen Now Open – Enroll Now!

How to Assemble an Outfit 101 - The Toronto School for Gentlemen

How to Assemble an Outfit 101 – The Toronto School for Gentlemen

The Toronto School for Gentlemen is an ongoing series of workshops on the art of living an elegant life, focusing on skills in dress, hygiene, etiquette, entertaining, conversation and more. In other words, a 21st century finishing school for men.

Our first session takes place Monday, September 30 at 8pm. “How to assemble an outfit” is intended for those men beginning their journey to building a wardrobe and will focus on the whys and hows of dressing well, including a dissection of the elements of an outfit, the rules of dress and long-term strategies for building a wardrobe. The session is priced at an affordable $25.

Your instructors are Jonathan Hagey, proprietor of Kingpin’s Hideaway and head writer of Kingpin Chic, a blog about gentlemen’s style, and Pedro Mendes, writer and broadcaster at CBC Radio specializing in men’s issues and menswear.

Learn how to Build an Outfit and Dress Like a Grownup

Learn how to Build an Outfit and Dress Like a Grownup

You may enroll in the first class by clicking this link; it is as easy as that!

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