It has been a long while since I added hat types to our glossary- I’m going to start some additions today with a hat I get lots of questions about. Hopefully, this will clear up some confusion!
History: In the early 1989s, actress Sarah Bernhardt brought the fedora into great popularity when she wore it on the London stage. Several years later when George du Maurier’s 1894 novel Trilby was adapted for the stage, a hat similar to the at-the-time popular fedora but with a lower crown and shorter, downward brim that turned up in the back was worn in the first London production of the play. This hat promptly was named “a Trilby hat”.
The style reached mainstream popularity in the 1960s thanks to low head clearance in American automobiles which made it impractical to wear a hat with a tall crown while driving. Like all other styles of headwear worn by men, the trilby faded into obscurity during the 1970s and 1980s. In recent years, the style has returned to popularity as a trendy accessory for millenial men and women. Originally made from rabbit hair felt, contemporary trilbys are now often made of other materials including tweed, straw, wool and wool/nylon blends.
Characteristics: Like a fedora, trilbys usually have a crease down the center of the crown with visible “pinches” in the front on both sides. A trilby brim, however, is shorter than a fedora, angled down at the front and turned up at the back (whereas a fedora brim is more flat) Traditionally, the crown of a trilby is also slightly shorter than the crown on a typical fedora.
Royals Associated with this Hat Style: Not widely embraced by royals, we see them on a mix of people. The recent surge in popularity has been embraced by several younger royals.
Zara Tindall, March 13, 2008; Duchess of Cambridge, Dec 25, 2011; Princess Grace of Monaco, 1970