Hat Types: The Fedora

Fedora | Royal Hats

I am excited to launch a new series here on the blog entitled “Hat Types”. Over the coming months, we will explore different types of hats – what characteristics are common to this type of hat as well as what variations we see in royal hats in this style – and build a glossary of hat types. We begin today with the Fedora.

History: The Italian milliner Borsalino created a felt hat with a center crease in the crown in 1857– this hat became his trademark. A decade later in 1889, Sarah Bernhardt performed the role of Princess Fédora in a play of the same name by Victorien Sardou. In the play, she wore one of the Borsalino type hats with a center crease and soft brim. The style took off and voilà- the Fedora went mainstream! During it’s first wave of popularity, fedoras were worn by women; during the 1920s this hat became part of men’s fashion. These days, we see them more on royal men than we do on royal women.

Characteristics: A lengthwise crease down the center of the crown with a visible “pinch” in the front on both sides. Crowns may have varied shape (teardrop, diamond, tall oval etc) and the “pinch” may be subtle but should still be visible.  Brims are usually  2.5 inches (6.3 centimeters) wide. Panama hats are an informal fedora made of natural straw (see a few from our summer poll here). A note of caution- fedoras are often confused with Homburg and Trilby hats. We’ll look at these hats in coming weeks.

Classic Fedoras: 

 Crown Princess Victoria, May 27, 2015 in Borsalino | Royal Hats Embed from Getty Images Infanta Elena, Aug 6, 2016 | Royal Hats
Crown Princess Victoria in a Borsolino, May 27, 2015; Queen Máxima, Oct 5, 2017Infanta Elena, Aug 6, 2016

Embed from Getty Images Embed from Getty Images Embed from Getty Images
Zara Tindall, March 13, 2018; Duchess of Sussex, July 4, 2019; Countess of Wessex, May 13, 2018;

Embed from Getty Images Embed from Getty Images Embed from Getty Images
Queen Máxima,, Jan 31, 2019; Princess Anne, Mar 15, 2018; Zara Tindall, Mar 16, 2017

 Embed from Getty Images Embed from Getty Images Embed from Getty Images
Peter Phillips, Mar 15, 2019; King Carl Gustaf, Jan 17, 2016Duke of Edinburgh, May 14, 2016

Embed from Getty Images Embed from Getty Images Embed from Getty Images
Autumn Phillips, Mar 15, 2019; Queen Máxima, Dec 2, 2017; Princess Anne, Mar 15, 2019

Variations on the Fedora: 

Princess Claire, July 21, 2004 | The Royal Hats Blog    Princess Irene, December 11, 2004 | The Royal Hats Blog
Princess Claire of Belgium in a toile fedora with diagonally upturned brim, July 21, 2004;
Princess Mathilde of Belgium in a relaxed fedora with double side pinches on King’s Day, November 15, 2010
Princess Irene of the Netherlands in a white fedora with an oversize curved brim, December 11, 2004

Princess Marie, October 16, 2012 | The Royal Hats Blog  Embed from Getty Images
Princess Marie of Denmark in an oversize Panama fedora hat, October 2012
Prince Charles in a relaxed leather fedora with large brim in Australia, November 5, 2012 

What do you think of the Fedora as a hat style?

Photos from Getty as indicated; David Sica; Carlos Alvarez via Getty; Patrick van Katwijk via Corbis; Royal Press Europe; Splash News via Corbis; Michel Porro/Stringer via Getty;  

31 thoughts on “Hat Types: The Fedora

  1. Really would have liked to see the scally cap (flat cap) in here. Though it’s predominantly worn by men, it’s a great look for women and I see it all the time. Other than that, I loved this post and it gives some great ideas.

  2. Thanks for this new feature. Can’t wait for more. One fedora-related question: what shape is the crown of a fedora before it is creased and pinched? Is it bowler-y, or is it more of a flat crown? Not sure why this matters, but it does.

  3. From now on if I don’t see those side pinches on a hat I’m going to think “IMPOSTER! It’s not a REAL fedora!” My friends already think I’m crazy obsessed with hats. They are going to LOVE this!!!

    • Prince Charles looks very handsome and wise in this hat. It is a very beautiful photograph. Thank you for sharing this interesting post. You have so much knowledge about hats.

    • Yes. Lovely to see some hat styles worn by the blokes. Looking forward to future posts with Bowlers, Homburgs and Pork Pies!

    • Great photo but I’m afraid that’s not a true fedora with neither the side “pinches” nor the top crease on the crown. If I recall correctly, Maxima wore this to Prinsjesdag in 2011. Next week we’re going to look back at her previous Prinsjesdag hats and make some predictions about what she’ll wear this year, her first year as Queen!

    • Good point. The first hat, by this definition, is not a fedora (good call- there’s no side “pinch” characteristic of a true fedora). I’ve updated the post to read “fedora inspired”. The second hat is actually a trilby and I have updated the post accordingly. When I do a post on the Trilby hat I will point out the differences between a trilby and a fedora to help clear up confusion.

      Thanks for pointing this out- you see that even I get confused between the different hat types! Building a glossary has been something I wanted to do for a long while for my own benefit and I’m glad that readers here are enjoying it as well!

  4. I have to admit I love the classic down-under Fedora Charles is wearing, my late Father used to wear one just like it. Men look so elegant when they wear a hat and they are useful as well as ornamental. Certainly here in Australaisia where the sun is fierce and the ozone layer very thin.

  5. Oh dear, this isn’t a hat style that I like yet I didn’t know what type it was when I bought one on the advice of a friend and it was outrageously expensive(just over $800) and I have never worn it. I can’t figure out how to wear it, On the top of my head, on the side, titled or what, so it still sits in a hat box for the last 5 years, I do make foolish mistakes and this is one of them. This style just isn’t for women, they look great on men, something throws me off about them.

  6. Love this new informative series and looking forward to learning more. This will be fun and interesting.
    Somehow I’m just stopped cold with the one Matilde is wearing -looks as though it has seen better days. Been mashed in a suitcase, left out in the rain, or run over by a train? Maybe fedora’s are best used as a bad hair day hat… not my favorite.

  7. The brim on Princess Elena’s hat is a little too large to be considered a classic fedora… but that is nitpicking. This feature is so informative and well written (as is the rest of this blog). Can’t wait to see more!

  8. I like a good Fedora type hat…it’s a shape most can wear. I really like the off-shoot style as you show here with what I think of as an “outback’ style hat that Prince Chas. has on. There has been in the past maybe 6-7 yrs a resurgence among younger folks to sport a smaller style of Fedora not shown here in the variations – I think but not positive Brittany Spears really got the smaller Fedora going in the style ‘watch’ of the younger generation a # of yrs back…as said, not sure – just recall her being among the early ones in the press with one on that everyone wanted to copy.

  9. This is a great new feature and I look forward to learning more about hat styles. I love Eugenia’s pink fedora, but that toile one is horrible. I agree with Audrey that the summer styles are too casual and some of the winter a bit better. I think it is too much like a hat anyone would wear and not really special.

  10. I’m looking forward to this series as a hat neophyte. I look at the words you use, and try to figure out the part of the hat you’re talking about by looking at the accompanying picture. My hat vocabulary has expanded, and will continue to expand. Thanks for the fun education.

    • I had no idea that what made a fedora a fedora was those “pinches” on the sides. I learned something today! I am looking forward to seeing all the other types of hats.

  11. I was wondering where you were today! This new post came up real late but it’s real interesting. I don’t like these fedora type hats. The summery ones are not formal enough to be a real royal hat. The winter ones are a little better but I don’t think I’d go out of my way to see one up close. The only good one here is the blue and white one with the mathing jacket. You don’t see many hat’s and matching jackets.

    • I agree. You don’t see many hat’s and matching jackets, and I think that’s why a lot of people are turned off by hats. People just kinda throw them on and expect them to work, but like any other fashion item you have to match them.

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