Hats: As a Fashion Symbol

Hats are head coverings that can be used for everyday use, weather protection, or special occasions like religious rituals and public events. You can find hats made of felt, cotton, wool, or plastic, among other materials. Men and women both wear hats, although during the early part of the 20th century, men’s hats were more frequently necessary. Hats can convey social standing in a similar way to how a crown announces a royal birth. As many police and military personnel, postal workers, and religious figures wear hats as part of their uniforms, headgear can also serve as a workplace indicator.

History of Hats

A large leaf or a piece of leather was possibly the first hat in human history. But a painting in Thebes’ tomb is one of the earliest depictions of a person wearing a hat. A man wearing a straightforward conical straw hat is depicted there. The “pileus,” astraightforward skull cap; the “petasos,” the earliest hat with a brim known to mankind; and the Phrygian cap, a conical cap with a folded top given to slaves upon their release, all debuted at the same time. It earned the nickname “Liberty Cap” during the French Revolution as a result. The invention of felt marked the first significant development in the history of hats. It was found in many locations throughout the world at various times, according to various reports regarding how and who found it. The Stetson, Sombrero, Bowler, Fedora, and Hard Hat are some of the most well-known headgear.

The bowler hat was developed in 1849 by British soldier and politician Edward Coke as a cap for gamekeepers. It was meant to be sturdy and comfortably secure on the head, protecting the wearer from low-hanging branches and ensuring that it wouldn’t blow away in the wind. It had a low crown, a narrow brim, and was made of hard felt. It quickly gained popularity among all socioeconomic groups, outselling any other hat in the Wild West, and remained popular until the 1960s.

The John B. Stetson Company manufactures hats under the name Stetson. "Boss of the Plow,” the first commercial Stetson, was created in 1865. I had a large flat brim, a crown with straight sides, and rounded crown corners. Being waterproof, it swiftly ruled the west.

Mexicans invented the sombrero, a hat with a broad brim and a conical top. Its brim is so large that it completely envelops the wearer’s head, neck, and shoulders. Sombra, which means “shadow” in Spanish, is how it got its name. Although its creator is unknown (there are numerous theories, but nothing is certain), it has become a staple and a representation of Mexican culture.

In 1882, the fedora was created. Its name is derived from the title of a Victor Hugo play in which Sarah Bernhardt’s Princess Fédora Romanoff, the main character, wears a similar hat. It was folded in the middle, had a soft brim, and was made of felt.

E. W. Bullard obtained a patent in 1919 for the hard helmet. Its purpose was to safeguard workers from harm caused by objects falling on construction sites. It was made of steel. High-density polyethylene is now used to make hard hats, and they include suspension to minimise the power of impacts.

Contemporary Hats

In Ecuador, the Panama hat was a common piece of headwear. Because it was transported from Panama to other locations, it acquired its name in the 19th century. In Arthur Conan Doyle’s writings, Sherlock Holmes was not mentioned as donning a deerstalker, but he was depicted in art wearing one. Since then, he has been connected to the deerstalker.

New hat styles were developed in the 19th century. The Industrial Revolution made it possible to produce hats in large quantities. In 1849, the bowler hat was created. For his gamekeepers to wear, a man by the name of Edward Coke ordered a specific type of protective hat. While they were riding horses, it would shield their heads from branches. Its makers, Thomas and William Bowler, are also responsible for giving it its name. (A derby is another name for a race.) John B. Stetson created the Stetson in the 1860s.

In 1883, the Fedora was created. Its name comes from Victorien Sardou’s play Fedora. Trilby is a book by George Du Maurier that was published in 1894. It was transformed into a play, and one of the characters wore a hat that later came to be known as a trilby. The Homburg, a German hat, became well-known after Prince Edward, the future Edward VII, visited Germany and purchased one. The first baseball caps appeared in the late 19th century, but until the 1970s, most people only wore them to games.

Women wore bonnets as part of the vogue in the 19th century. Ribbons were frequently used to embellish them. Wide, round hats with flowers or feathers were in style in the early 20th century. The cloche hat, a bell-shaped hat, gained popularity in the 1920s. Women’s hats came in a wide variety of styles during the middle of the 20th century. Jacqueline Kennedy popularised the pillbox hat at the start of the 1960s. Hard hats were created to protect employees’ heads during the 20th century. However, hats were far less frequently worn as part of daily attire in the late 20th century.


Hats are a kind of headwear. In general, “headgear” refers to any article of clothing worn on the head for any reason. There are various reasons why someone might wear headgear. Protection, fashion, disguise, amusement, religion, medicine, decoration, and distinction are a few of the causes. They served as the wearer’s identification of the class they belonged to and are used in the military to distinguish between countries, branches, and ranks. Fashion, hairstyles, economic and societal changes, wars, and scarcity all influenced how it changed. Numerous hat styles, such as the beret, Stetson, top hat, sombrero, and fez, evolved independently or from one another. Over time, fewer people wore the hats. They are no longer worn as frequently as they once were, only on special occasions or as part of a casual wardrobe.

Updated on: 06-Dec-2022


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