Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Fedora trend?

One of our long lasting most popular threads here has been on hats;  Lex Anteinternet: Caps, Hats, Fashion and Perceptions of Decency and...:

Not surprisingly, we addressed fedoras in that thread:
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Bowlers hung on surprisingly long, and even to this day they occasionally now serve a formal role in some localities, but increasing urbanization supplanted them as a daily hat, just as urban occupations became more common.  As this began to happen in the early 1900s, and new hat style, which takes us back into the "short brim" realm of "broad brim" hats appeared, with that hat being the Fedora.

Politicians, 1938.  Note the man second from the right is wearing a watch chain in the same manner as Jack Johnson, above.  These men all seem to have Fedoras except the man in the foreground in the light suit, looking to our left, who is wearing a Homburg.

Fedoras seem to have an obscure origin, but they were showing up prior to World War One.  They were a more practical hat than the bowler, with short brims, but functional ones.  They were also a softer felt hat.  In terms of brim size, their brims were generally the same size as short brim cowboy hats or other short brim "broad brim" hats, so they could be worn by men who saw a fair amount of time outdoors.  They were, in short, more practical for men who really did spend more time outside
than Bowler wearers did, even if they were living in the cities.  And like bowlers, they were easy to wear in a car, given the short brim, or a railroad car.  Automobiles, in this ear, were becoming more and more common.
The Cairo Gang, British anti Republican agents, dressed in mufti, circa 1920.  Three of the men are wearing hats, while the remainder are wearing Newsboy caps.  Of the hats, at least #4 is wearing a relatively modern Fedora.  No 3 is also wearing  Fedora, although a more nondescript one.

Fedoras, as noted, are of unknown origin.  They were named for a character in an Italian play who wore one, that character being a female character.  By the 1920s they were taking over the men's hat word, and by the 1930s they completely dominated.  They were the last great new design of men's hats, and their era is nearly symbolized by them, even if they were not the only hat design around at the time.

 George M. Cohan in 1914 or 1916, wearing a Fedora.
Fedoras are a hat design that are still around, and they remain, with some cowboy hats in some areas, as the only hats that really work wear with modern formal wear.  They remain seen, if not super common, in big cities and even in towns, when there's a need for a hat by men wearing formal wear, or even just wear men want to wear a somewhat distinctive hat.  They were very common up into the early 1960s, but like all true hats, have declined in commonality since then.

 Farmer in bar in the early 1940s, wearing a classic Fedora.  Chances are that this hat went from being an on the town hat to eventually being a field hat.  Fedoras could be worn for anything.

Fedora, in my office, with a coat.  Both of which are mine.
Contemporaneously with the Fedora, and somewhat resembling it, is the Homburg. The Homburg was another felt hat of the same era with a similar short brim, although the brim was normally rolled. for some reason, the Homburg was regarded as a more formal hat.  Fedoras showed up everywhere, in use by businessmen and the like, but also in use by men who had no other hat in every type of role.  Homburgs showed up only with suit and tie, and generally worn by those who had means.  A lot of casual viewers today probably mistake them for Fedoras, but they were all finely made hats.  In some ways, the Homburg replaced the Bowler in the dress role, being a less peculiar hat, very finely made, and just dressier in general.
 There's a lot more on that thread, of course.

This morning on the Today Show three out of the four male hosts, while outside, are wearing black fedoras with suits.


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