The Return of the Fedora?

Playing its part in the resurgence of the pocket square and sartorial approach to dress, Mad Men and its protagonist, the ever dapper Don Draper, may well receive part of the accolade should the fedora make a return. Coupled with the release of Matt Damon’s recent blockbuster, The Adjustment Bureau – which has the fedora playing a central role within the film plot – the stage is certainly set for the fedora to make a star-studded comeback.

Structured head wear as a whole has seen a dip in popularity, and deciding to don anything other than a beanie creates a statement – something many of us men avoid like the plague. For the few who swear by a hat as the perfect touch to any outfit, the ‘trilby’ is their go-to piece. The fedora has essentially become a lost art, a legend – anonymous to the younger gentleman.

Pop culture has laid the foundations and the brick work has been readily placed by the designers. It is up to us, the common man to cement the fedora in its rightful place… perched on top of our heads, possibly with a slight tilt.

Fedora/Trilby – What’s the Difference?

A debate is beginning to develop over what constitutes a fedora. The two have almost become homogeneous due to the changes they have gone through since they were regarded as de rigueur for any self-respecting gentleman. In fact you would be more than forgiven should you not be able to pick out the aesthetic differences between the two.

So next time that impeccably dressed man at the bus stop asks you the differences between a fedora and trilby, simply quote the following. A fedora is conventionally defined by its wider brim, band and bow. Trilbies in contrast possess a narrower brim and ribbon. The confusion between the two has really developed as more American designed trilbies have a wide ribbon similar to that of the classic fedora.

The wide ribbons are not the only feature that has muddled many a man; brim size and crown heights have also become part of the grey area. This trilby-fedora hybrid has laid waste to the pronounced wide brim fedora of yesteryear. Luckily in this case half measures very much do avail with the modern fedora suiting 21st century sartorial dress to a tee – combining very well with the clean cut and slim line approach that so often epitomises the term well dressed.

Fedora Lookbook

The Fedora Look Book

A Hat For Your Head

There are some general rules as to what suits who best when it comes to headwear. Below is a brief run down but as always it’s largely down to personal preference. The best thing would be to try on different styles before purchasing and see what suits you best – whether that is a fedora, beret or bowler.

Taller Men

The taller man has the luck of the draw here, just try to avoid very narrow brims with large crowns as they will add unchecked height. Other than that you’re good to go with anything that takes your fancy. A wide brim and tall crown – think classic fedora – will not overpower you and will add extra height without looking ridiculous, once again using the hat to balance out features.

  • Coal Considered 'The Parker' Fedora Hat
  • Mr Hat Exclusive To ASOS Felt Classic Hat
  • Brown Textured Feather Trilby
  • BRIXTON Gain fedora
  • BAILEY HATS Renny trilby hat
  • PAUL SMITH Wool Hat
Shorter Men

Avoid wide brims as they will very much create an oversized appearance and drown you – a hat is definitely not the place to practise oversizing your wardrobe! In general a hat with a higher crown and short(ish) brim is ideal as the crown will add height while the brim will not overpower.

  • Ben Sherman Chambray Trilby
  • Olive Trilby Hat With Belt
  • All Saints Bind Hat
  • Fred Perry Black Straw Trilby Hat
  • Burton Black Trilby
  • COAL Harwood fedora
Top Heavy

Top Heavy Face or Body – i.e. broad shoulders or where your face is wider on the top and narrows at the chin. If you fit into this category a wide brim is the way to go as it will balance out your shape. A taller crown is also an option as it will add height further increasing the appearance of a balanced look.

  • Khaki Wide Brim Fedora Hat
  • PHILIP TREACY Leopard side sweep hat
  • Reiss Fagin WOOL TRILBY
  • Osbourne Natural canvas trilby hat
  • My Bob Woven Panama trilby
  • Mr Hat Exclusive To ASOS Felt Classic Hat
Square Face

Go for a happy medium in both crown height and brim length. A hat with a turned up or snapped up brim will also do the trick; this may not necessarily be a fedora or trilby but a more bowler styled piece.

One style tip often given to those with this shape is to try not to push your hat too far to the back of your head, instead tilt to the side – it will add a different dimension and shape.

  • Coal Considered The Parker Fedora
  • River Island Straw Trilby
  • Brixton Hats Drifter Straw Porkpie Hat
  • Topman SOFT BLACK BOWLER HAT
  • HEATHEN Leather fedora
  • Paul Smith Accessories Beige Straw Bamboo Print Trilby
Prominent Features

Be these ears, chin or nose a hat can disguise these and balance them much better. As a rule of thumb wider brims are often better at creating balance; attempt to have the brim extended just further than the feature you’re trying to disguise.

A wide brim fedora could be described as a quick fix here as it ticks all the boxes. If you want something a little more diverse a panama is a casual alternative.

  • Brixton Hats Grand Straw Panama Hat
  • Adam Kimmel Straw panama hat
  • COAL Layne fedora
  • BARBISIO Trilby
  • Polo Ralph Lauren Straw Fedora
  • Khaki Wide Brim Fedora Hat
Fashionbeans Lookbook

Now you’ve got your head wear sorted, what do you pair it with? Well whether it’s a fedora, trilby or porkpie, hats are versatile and serve well in both a formal and casual capacity.

Look One
Stir up a bit of gossip around the office water cooler by taking a few tips from Neal Caffrey and rocking a simple black fedora with your work attire. Shirt, waistcoat and tie create a base while the fedora will add a touch of individuality and much needed flair to your look which is bound to get those tongues wagging.

  • Shore Leave Stripe Oxford Shirt
  • T.M. Lewin Repp Tie Red/white
  • All Saints Camberwell Waistcoat

Look Two
Go for an indie look and by that I do not refer to the iconic Mr Jones. A chambray shirt and jeans create a basic look that has bags of style and you can add that extra je ne sais quoi through accessories and hat decoration.

  • All Saints Cinder L/s Shirt
  • Levis 511 Slim Jeans
  • Miansai Double Wrap Cord Bracelet

Look Three
Alternatively split your outfit down the middle of the casual, formal spectrum. A denim or Harrington jacket is your best-friend here. Pair either styles with a shirt and tie; exercise colour experimentation through your tie and or jacket. Anchor with a neutral khaki shirt and your laughing.

  • Distressed Denim Western
  • lanvin Curved seam shirt
  • JIL SANDER Duo colour tie
Concluding Thoughts

Possibly the most overused piece of advice in fashion is to be confident. I am however shamelessly going to use it again as it takes confidence to wear something of such statement and hats off to those of you who do so without trepidation.

“For a man to have rank, he must wear at least one hat.” – Hardy Amies.

Mr Amies’ words (and not for the first time) are those of wisdom. Confidence breeds confidence, confidence breeds success, and with success comes authority.