A Complete Hat Guide - Choosing, Styling, and Types
Headgear has been common throughout the history of humanity and used to prevent the scalp and hair against any external minor injury as well as preventing hair against dust and external pollution. To make the hat look more stylish and trendier, designers have modified the old hat designs into new fashionable accessories as well as brought outdated or disappeared hat designs into the current trend with unique cloth materials and colours.
Every part has a purpose;
As hats have become more popular again, words like fedora, bowler, gambler, safari and others are becoming better known. There are very minor differences between certain styles and terms like trilby and fedora that are nowadays interchangeable where they used to be distinctive brim sizes.
When it comes to hats, every part has a purpose. Whether it's to provide shade, offer comfort, or simply look good, the different parts of a hat contribute to the overall experience.
Brim: The horizontal part which protrudes from the base of the crown. The brim may be turned up, turned down or up in the back and down in the front.
Bill: The stiff protruding part at the front of a cap that shields your eyes.
Crease (Pinch): Refers to the indentations made along the front, back, and sides of the crown.
Crown: The top portion of the hat; the area above the brim that sits on your head.
Band: The part just above the brim where a band or ribbon is placed around the crown of a hat.
Choose the right size!
When choosing your hat; make sure you have the right size, measuring your head size will determine your hat size and ensure that you get the perfect fit. The hat should sit comfortably at the center of your forehead, above your eyebrows. A good way to test a hat’s fit is to simply put your finger between your head and the cap, if it fits, then you know you have the right size.
You can typically go for basic black or other neutral tones, but consider bright and bold colour hats as well to complete your monochromatic outfits.
Types of Hats
The baseball cap is the most widely used hat worldwide with its simple, casual, and easy-to-wear style. The New York Knickerbockers first wore the baseball hat on April 24th, 1849. These hats have a rounded crown and stiff, short to medium size bill that can be curved or flat in front that is normally attached to 6-quarter panels ending in a button at the top. They are made of cotton or denim and may have an adjustment area in the back either with a snap-style closure or a buckle.
Trucker / Net Cap
Sometimes it is also referred to as advertising caps because at first, such hats were promotional materials for the supply company to promote products to farmers and truck drivers. There are six almost triangular top hats, one at the top, and the rest is a breathable plastic mesh. The top of this hat’s foam stands straight and has an adjustable plastic card or shackle to adjust the size and comfort of the wearer in the sun or hot weather.
This is a branch developed from baseball caps. Usually, the brim is flat, and there is a process design under the brim. It usually has a snap-back adjustment. Some hip-hop singers like to wear them as hip-hop caps. The design is more street style, fancy, and personality.
Five Panel Cap
This must be one of the most popular types of baseball caps when it comes to providing a trendier look. What started as a Brooklyn hipster-on-a-bicycle thing has become a surfer-hipster-city dweller-anyone-with-a-head thing. This is the only style of hat that looks cool with an all-over print or pattern.
Army style cap is a soft cap with a stiff, rounded, short brim of between 2 and 3 inches and a crown that is also short and around the same size with a flat top. This cap is a military-looking style and is essentially a minimalist, stubby baseball cap. These caps can be worn by both men and women and are a great alternative to the standard baseball cap.
The term “fitted caps” refers to baseball caps that are usually measured in 1/8” increments for an exact fitted size. Typically worn by the MLB.
The Fisherman’s Cap / Fiddler Cap
One of the most popular hats in the Western world. Fisherman’s caps can be made of wool, cotton or other materials and are usually fully lined, features a tiny little brim and a bit of a beret-influenced crown. They are a great style for anyone looking for a casual, relaxed look and these fisherman’s caps are rugged and practical enough to handle all kinds of weather.
Flat / Ivy Cap
It has the name flat cap because when laid on a table with the back of the style folded underneath it, it becomes perfectly flat. They have a distinctive style that is generally made of three panels, top and two sides. It is distinguished by a low profile with a slightly rounded, flat tapered top that extends to the front of the hat and is sewn to the bill.
Flat caps are lined. Sometimes the bill sticks out a little for a different look while other times the crown and bill are perfectly matched. Some winter flat caps are designed with an ear to cover those folds into the crown. They can be made from any material but most often are constructed from wool, cotton, or polyester.
The Duckbill cap is a hybrid style between an Ivy and an Ascot style cap. It typically features a more rounded top towards the back that ends at the front in a more exaggerated down sloping curve meeting the up-sloping bill. This forms a shape that looks like the bill of a duck giving the style its name. Wool felt duckbill caps are lined, while summer-style duckbill caps are not.
The Ascot cap is a variation of the ivy and flat caps and is characterized by a more rounded crown profile that is often stiffer and made from wool or felt. Ascot caps are not lined inside. The small bill is built into the crown to give its rounded shape.
It is a traditional wool hat design which is famously worn around the 1900s. The Ascot hat suits well as formal as a semi-formal hat for men. Most popular are the wool felt ascot caps, but leather, suede, straw, and poly-knit ascots are also available.
Newsboy / Paperboy / Gatsby Cap
The newsboy cap is a style that is referred to as having 6 or 8-quarter panels that form into a larger, rounder version of the traditional flat cap. It is originally made of tweed fabric and typically finished with a button at the vortex and sometimes it will have a snap on the brim. Made popular by their namesake in Europe and America, newsboy hats arose in the late 1800s and were commonly associated with newsboys and were later adapted as fashion hats for women as well starting in the 2000s.
The apple cap is simply a larger version of the newsboy cap. It is divided into 8 panels and finished with a sewn button at the center of the wedges. The panels are long and folded under to give a full round slouchy look. The wedges can be made of different materials or fabric patterns to give a unique look. The bill is small and often snaps to the overextended crown.
A classical-retro-style motorcycle cap. Made of high quality and skin-friendly materials: woollen cloth crown, leather visor, viscose lining, natural leather sweatband. A timeless, elegant, and comfortable pattern. It refers to a pattern worn by Marlon Brando in "The Wild One" movie.
This type of hat is most worn by the military person, police as well as by the pilot and the ship Captain. The hat has a flat crown part which has a sloppy outlook with a thick band. The crown has a peak which is called the Visor which makes the hat more different from other designs.
Probably the most popular winter hat style, the beanie is a knitted close-fitting cap typically made of wool or cotton created to provide warmth to your head in cold weather. Beanie styles vary more and can be adorned with rosettes, pleating, logo embroidery, pom poms, patches, or rhinestones. Throughout the years, many different variants have been created such as bobble beanies and long stocking caps. They have a longer crown meant to be too large and hang off the top or side more for the style than warmth.
A continuous rib knit gives the beanie a stretch quality for a perfect fit so that it can snuggle your ears and keep them reliably warm. The fact that the knitted hat also looks extremely good in doing so is down to the monochrome design, trendy turn-up and peak, which acts as a shield against cheeky snowflakes and protects the eyes from a low sun.
The Beret is a round, soft, flat or floppy crowned brimless style and made of either wool, cotton or acrylic fabric. Classic styles have the little nub at the very center of the top that can be described as a short apple stem. They can be worn either flat across the top of the head or hanging to one side or the other.
The beret, associated with European art and romance, began as the headgear of choice for early 19th Century Basque shepherds. Artists, writers, and bohemians adopted them later in the century as a gesture of rebellion against the status quo. You can pair them with a stretch cable-knit sweater, plaid skirt, tweed coat, and black leggings for a stylish look.
The fedora is a broad term that encompasses a variety of crown styles and brim shapes. It is characterized by a soft, short to the mid-sized brim (1.5" - 2.25" wide stingy brim, large brim fedora) with an upturn in the back. The front can be either turned up or down and styles that let you do both are called snap-brims.
It has a pinched crown and a dented crown top, mostly a center-crease, but can be a teardrop shape. Most often decorated with a simple accent of a ribbon band with a small side bow, a pin, or a feather. A true fedora is historically made from felt or wool, however, modern fedora hats are more commonly being made from straw and paper, to accommodate for increasing sun-protective demand whilst still maintaining the preference of the fedora shape.
Combine a floppy fedora with leggings, oversized sweaters and cozy winter boots for a stylish daytime look or pair a wide-brim fedora with a plush coat, dress, and knee-high boots for a glamorous look.
Boater / Skimmer Hat
It is commonly associated with barbershop quartets, proper boating or sailing events, and men’s formal summer wear from the late 1800s to mid-1900s. It is made of stiff straw with a medium to the wide brim, a shorter crown, and a flat top. It is typically embellished with a solid or two-tone ribbon around the crown. New styles are made of softer straws, like raffia or paper braid, with different embellishments.
Bowler / Derby Hat
The bowler hat is an iconic style that is typically seen in movies set in the 1800s named after original hat makers, Thomas, and William Bowler. They are typically a hard-felt hat with a short, curled brim of around 2 inches and a rounded crown. Grosgrain ribbon with a narrow side bow accents the derby hats, sometimes a small feather above the bow.
The bowler was quickly adopted as sporting attire by the gentry and, soon after, became the headgear of choice across the entire social spectrum. It was particularly popular for men in the late 19th century with the crowd at the Derby horse race, therefore they are also called derby hats.
The Trilby is like the fedora in shape and style with the exception that the brim is quite narrow or stingy which tails upwards at the back part of the hat and has an indented crown. There are many patterns and prints used for trilby hats such as pinstripe, plaid, hound's tooth, herringbone as well as fabrics such as straw, fur felt, wool felt, cotton, corduroy, and mesh.
Historically the term Trilby comes from a play based on George du Maurier's 1894 novel Trilby. The trilby hat replaced the bowler and the homburg as the men’s hat of the 20th century until the mid-1960s.
The porkpie is a stylish hat typically made of felt or straw, worn today by the more fashion-forward. It is primarily characterized by the crown shape, which is a flat-topped oval with an oval indention that defines the shape. This classic hat style kept its name, but its characteristic style has changed over time.
The crown height and brim width increased, and even the only constant simple ribbon band with a side bow changed, and colourful feather accents were added. This style can have a medium brim but most often has a very small brim, called a “stingy brim” and can be called by this name. The “Stingy brim” term more often now just refers to the brim size however and is used to describe other styles with a short brim as well.
The Panama hat is one of the more beautiful and timeless styles around. It has a creased crown and a medium brim. It is usually associated with fedora, but its brim is usually wider than fedora hats. Technically Panama hats come from Ecuador, not Panama, but the widespread use of these hats during the construction of the Panama Canal in 1906 granted them the name we all use today.
Panama hats are not one style, instead, they are characterized only by their light weighted and light-coloured material called Toquilla Straw. A Panama hat can be made into any shape or style using its distinctive straw and depending on the fineness (the number of weaves per square inch) the fibres used can be graded and priced up to tens of thousands of dollars.
The Homburg is a unique formal style that has been called the Godfather hat as it was seen on Al Pacino in the movie. The overall shape of the hat is an oval, with a turned-up lip around the brim of the style and generally curved up sides. The primary feature of the hat is the center-dent crown though. Usually, they are finished with grosgrain hatbands and grosgrain edging around the brim, giving it a unique and great look.
Breton / Kettle Brim Hat
This type of hat got famous around the 19th century and was traditionally worn by the Breton agricultural workers and fisherman in the Northwest of France as sun protection. The crown part is rounded and the short to the medium brim is tapered upwards to the crown region which gives a deep brim shape.
Original Bretons were made of straw or felt and had wide brim with a large portion of the brim turned up. Often, they are accompanied by a bow, or a ribbon around the crown and can have chinstraps as well.
This bell-shaped hat is synonymous with the 1920s and has become a very popular style in recent years. It has a close-fitting bell-shaped deep crown that is round at the top and often flares a little at the bottom. The crown typically comes down below the eyebrows and has embellishments such as little bows or flower details.
It was mostly made of wool or felt but nowadays is being produced in every material, they come in knits too. You can still find styles that harken back to those retro times, but the modern versions (the crowns are not as deep, and the brims are a little wider) are more streamlined.
Top hats have a tall, large cylindrical crown (sometimes convex) with a flat top and curled, short to the medium brim. Grosgrain ribbon band with a side bow accent this hat style. Originally top hats were made of beaver felt. This iconic style today is more often used as a novelty or in an extremely formal situation.
Gamblers are a version of Western or cowboy-style hats that features a medium to the wide brim of about 3 inches that typically have either a tight turned up lip around the edges or a slight turned up western flair at only the sides. It tends to have a flatter profile when looking at it from the side.
The one distinct feature that defines the Gambler hat is the large oval-shaped crown with a crease. It was originally a western dress hat for men made of felt, today it has become a favoured golf hat style made in just about every material.
Bolero / Sombrero Hat
Gaucho-style hats were worn by cowboys -gauchos- in South America. The gaucho sombrero was made of black wool felt, with a wide flat brim, a shallow flat crown and chin cord. A bolero hat is practically identical, generally without a chin cord, and more associated with Spanish flamenco dancers and popularized by characters such as Zorro.
These hat styles have a flat medium to the wide brim and a low, flat crown. There is also a Mexican version with a conical crown and a very wide, saucer-shaped brim, highly embroidered and made of plush felt. The word "Sombrero" in Spanish means shade.
Felt safari hats replaced the pith helmets, first with round medium to high center dent crowns, then with tapered, creased, and pinched crowns, like a fedora. Their brim is gently downward sloping, medium to the wide brim. Today's safari hats are made of felt, wool felt, straw, canvas, and performance fabrics. The side vent holes also remained from the classic pith helmet, however, often mesh sidewall is used to provide better ventilation.
Outback / Aussie/ Akubra Hat
Similarly, to the American cowboy hats, the Australian outback hats were created for wind, rain, and sun protection. The outback hat is characterized by a wider brim, usually starting at about 2.5 inches, and flatter, unlike cowboy hats, slightly less parabolic profile than the safari hats. Often there is a slight upturn on the sides giving a western or “outback” feel to it. The top of the crown has a slight crease or flat. Outback hats were made of high-quality leather, felt or canvas.
Western / Cowboy Hat
“Cowboy” is pretty much a term used for any Western-style hat. They are typically made in felt, leather, or straw and have very wide brims. Brims range from curved all the way around to just curled on the sides or completely flat.
The main gist of these is to allow for airflow above the head so ranchers don’t bother with heat and to protect the face and neck from the sun while you’re out there riding all day. Along with brim size variation, they can have many different crown shapes as well including the pinch crown, “C” or teardrop, and center dent among others.
These became famous as they were depicted in Western Movies in the mid-19th century, but are still worn today by ranchers, cowboys, farmers, fashion lovers, and of course rodeo participants or those that handle/work with horses! The wide brim is sun protective, and they are generally waterproof. Modern twists on the cowboy hat include buckles and bows, and the material ranges from felt, wool, and least often, leather.
Technically, any hat that shields you from harmful UV rays falls under the “sun hat” umbrella, but there is a specific type of hat that more exclusively holds the title. It’s one that sort of looks like a bucket hat, but with a wider brim which covers the entire face and attached strings to keep it secure.
The hat is made from jute material most commonly with multiple colours. To make it more trendy and moving forward with not just being a hair protector but also creating a fashion statement among the crowd is the main goal of the designers.
Floppy hats are becoming one of the most popular hat styles for women. The versatile wide brim floppy hat, whilst being a great provider of sun protection, calls out with its fun, statement-providing, and boundless styling. Most of the time the crown of the hat is unformed rounded, not creased or pitched, but pretty much any hat with a non-structured brim qualifies in this category.
These brims can get up to 10 inches but more often are between 4 and 6 inches. They come in a variety of colours and are typically made of paper braids, straw, or tweed material because it is slightly stronger and can support the weight of the brim better.
Race / Derby / Church / Dress Hat
Race hats or derby hats are the high fashion, big ornate styles with wide, dramatic brims and fun colours that you see on the opening days of the horse races. They can also be called derby hats though it is a contextual term because it is more traditionally associated with bowler hats.
The Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks are events in the United States to show off these stunning, colourful, over-the-top ladies' dress hats and fascinators every year.
These hats got famous in the 1930s and later it has now become the new trendy look hat design. It has a wide circular brim and a flat crown design which gives a wheel design. It is worn is an angle usually.
The bucket hat is a simple symmetrical style that has been made in cotton or polyester. They have a flat crown with soft, small, stingy down-sloping, usually stitched small brim, 1.5" - 2.5" wide. They were very popular with farmers and fishermen. These hats’ diverse fan base and timeless appeal cement them as a functional and stylish option. You can style your bucket hat with badges, patches, and pins.
This style is comprised most often of cotton/twill/polyester/canvas and is a soft wide-brimmed hat that can be rolled up and easily packed. It features a flat crown on top, a wide floppy brim, a chinstrap, and sometimes has sewn-in loops around the crown to stow small pieces of gear. The crown may be vented with sewn eyelets or metal grommets with mesh.
Boonies may have mesh panels on the upper section of the crown. The most common brim size for this hat is between 2.5 – 3.5 inches. They may have a pocket, side snaps, foliage loops and occasionally a neck cape.
These nylon-based extremely wide-brimmed hats have become more popular as they are more sun protective. When it comes to water activities, it is very important to wear a hat that provides great sun protection as well as a material that won’t be destroyed by water and salt. Most fishermen and boaters prefer hats that come in polyester and nylon, something that easily dries off and won’t lose its shape.
Popular garden hat addresses those that want a lightweight and sun-protective hat to keep them shaded while working outdoors. Brim widths vary, but commonly they are made from straw to allow for air circulation and have an adjustable chinstrap to not fall off during activities or wind.
The lifeguard hat is a very popular style due to its very large brim and great sun coverage. They are almost always made of some type of straw, raffia, rush, palm fibre or other. Most lifeguard hats feature a center-dent crown shape and a wide, flat, or down sloping brim.
A simple hat style with straight sides and a flat or structured crown. This elegant style arose in the 1930s and was quickly adopted. They are made of wool felt, fur, velvet, and satin braid. Most often coming in solid colours, a thin veil, feathers, pearls then adorned them, or even tiny nets which could be either elaborate or simple.
Traditionally they were part of military attire, used for ceremonies, and now are considered smart, formal hats for ladies. The word "toque" in this context could apply to the pillbox-style hats and any other brimless cap out there.
The fascinator is a headband-style hat that can be as simple as a bow on top of a headband or as ornate and large as wished. They can also be described as “cocktail hats” and they are either worn with a headband or clipped to the hair.
They are worn forward and off-centre on the head, usually leaning to the right. They are made of beautiful fabric and sinamay shapes embellished with feathers, loops, flowers, tulle, and dotted netting in stunning colours.
A band or ribbon is placed about the crown of a hat, just above the brim. These can come in all types of fabric, ranging from velvet and leather to silk and sequins.
Chullo / Peruvian Hat
This type of hat is used in the Andean Mountain in South America made from pure wool and recognizable by the two tassels hanging off the bottom of the ear flaps on either side. It shares characteristics with the beanie but has two large and long ear flaps for extra warmth and a bit of style. They usually have a decorative weave, and many times have a pom/ball on the top.
The balaclava traditionally covers the entire face, leaving room for just the eyes, nostrils, and mouth. These provide sun and cold weather protection and can be worn under a helmet. They originally were handmade and sent to the Brits during the Crimean War in 1854 to protect their faces from the harsh cold weather (their name comes from the Battle of Balaclava).
Most seen in red, it is a tapering cylinder shape that usually has a tassel on the top. The design may have come from ancient Greece or the Balkans. In the 19th Century, it gained wide acceptance when the Ottoman rulers moved to modernize traditional costumes. The name fez is believed to come from Fez, the city, which once produced the hat's red dye, made from crimson berries.
They are rigid, but lightweight oval shape helmets originally made of the pith of Sola trees, but they are also made of cork, toyo or any other materials. Characteristics of the pith helmet are its medium down-sloping dimensional brim, stiff dome crown with side vent holes, and chin strap.
The absorbing property of this natural material provided the wearer to immerse the pith helmet in the water keeping him or her cool during evaporation. When dry, the pith helmet does not lose its stiffness or shape, therefore it is a great choice for outdoor use. Many variations of the style exist from the stereotypical version seen on the right to the cloth-covered more ornate versions that have been used by explorers and militaries of days past.
The Tam hat has increased in style as of late and can be found in many varieties. The base for it however is a loose-fitting, crocheted weave-style beanie hat that is worn off the back of the head. Aside from some men with dreadlocks or longer hair, this is a style that is usually worn by women.
The visor is a great style that is coveted for its simplicity and packing ability. The top of the head is uncovered, essentially a hat without a crown. There are now full brims like a strap that encircles the head that look like donuts and 3/4 brims where there is a split in the back for a woman’s hair. An adjustable Velcro fastener in the back commonly secures them.
Though originally designed for use in sports, visors are now commonly seen at beaches and sports events for those who want to shield their eyes and face from the sun. Sun visors are made with a variety of closure types, Velcro, elastic, coil lace, and clip-on.
Trapper / Aviator Hat / Ushanka
Trapper hats were traditionally used by hunters and soldiers in cold weather areas to stay warm during winter. These round, fitting hats with ear flaps have been around for centuries because they are the warmest most protective hats against frigid weather. They have long fold-down ear flaps and extended neck cover. The first Ushanka hats were made of leather and lined with fur. Today, felt, knit, and synthetic materials are also used with faux fur lining.
Although there are slight differences between these styles, the one common feature is the ear flap. The ear flaps can be fastened under the chin ("down flap"), above the crown ("up flap"), or behind the crown ("ski flap"). You can pair it with a faux mink jacket, turtleneck, and dark-wash denim for a casual look.
Round crown ball cap with wide and relatively flat brim often 180 degrees wide. A neck cape is generally part of this hat style; the neck flap can be detachable. Size is adjusted with sizer and toggle. Large bill caps provide excellent sun protection, as they shade the face, ears and neck. Some large bill cap styles have a chin strap. They are made of lightweight materials, such as nylon, microfiber, or polyester. They make great hiking hats and fishing hats.
Face Saver Hat
Face Saver hats have a narrow or brimless back. The brim on the front is wide to provide good sun protection. The wide brim narrows on the sides and disappears toward the back. They are made of straw, cotton, and synthetic fabric for summer wear. Face-saver hats with ponytail holes have become popular in the last few years.
A deerstalker is a type of cap that is typically worn in rural areas, often for hunting, especially deer stalking. Because of the cap's popular association with Sherlock Holmes, it has become stereotypical headgear for a detective, especially in comical drawings or cartoons along with farcical plays and films. It is a hat with a low brim that faces downward for ear protection and a tie on the top of the head.
Traditional deerstalkers are generally made of British tweed. As the name implies, it is a hat for hunting which is ideal for several different weather conditions.