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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
As this article is over a year old, the comments are now closed.
If you have a specific question about one of the points raised in the article, why not join our free fashion & style forum and start a thread? The FashionBeans community will always do their best to help you out, and our writers also frequent the forums regularly.
Alternatively, you can get in touch with us on our contact us page.