What is a fedora? The short answer: It’s the quintessential gentleman’s hat, now a classic and beloved style worn again and again by both men and women.
Also known as a “snap-brim” hat, these soft felt hats feature an indented crown about four to six inches in height, and a soft brim two to four inches wide. The crown of fedora hats are typically pinched at the front—a feature that has become one of the fedora’s hallmarks as a hat style since the 20th century.
The “trilby” hat, another term you might be familiar with, is actually a fedora-style hat with a with a shorter, “stingy” brim.
History of the Fedora
The name “fedora” comes from the Greek word theodoros, which means a “gift from God.” And what a gift it has been to fashion, culture, and style ever since its early days!
In the early 1890s, actress Sarah Bernhardt wore a creased felted hat in a play titled Fédora. At the time, the now-fedora was a casual headpiece for lower- and middle-class men as a multi-purpose hat.
The fedora didn’t catch on as a sought-after, popular headpiece until 1924, when then Prince Edward VIII of Wales was spotted wearing a fedora.
This sparked the birth of the height of the fedora in the mid-20th century as gangsters like Al Capone and Hollywood stars such as Humprey Bogart (sporting a fedora paired with a trenchcoat in his role as Rick in the well-loved Casablanca) picked up this headpiece.
Narrow-brimmed fedoras and trilbies soon appeared on screen in the 1960s, gaining popularity. Trim trilbies are probably best remembered as being a distinctive fashion piece in the first few James Bond films, starring Sean Connery.
Our discussion on the fedora would not be complete without a nod to the one fictional character who single-handedly whipped fedoras back into popularity in the 1980s: Indiana Jones. Harrison Ford’s outstanding performance made the fedora both iconic and classy.
Musicians and artists also brought the fedora into pop culture in their time, like Frank Sinatra with his short-brimmed hats, adding to the popularity of this classic headpiece that is still going strong today.
You might already know the terms used for the different parts of a hat. But with the special details of the fedora in mind, let’s review three basic technical hat terms.
The brim of a high-quality fedora is one of its most distinguishing features. These soft brims can be worn angled upwards or downwards, depending on the wearer’s personality and style, as well as the weather.
Fedoras are most commonly worn with the brim turned down in the front and up in the back; this flexibility and adjustability earned this hat its nickname of “snap-brim.”
Brim shapes vary in the world of fedoras.
- Flat-brimmed fedoras, such as on the Messer Western Fedora or the Leigh Felt Fedora, have brims that run parallel to the ground.
- Snap-brim fedoras feature adjustable brims that can snap up or down at a moment’s notice. Brixton’s Messer Fedora is a good example of this type of brim shape.
- Finally, the pencil curl brim as seen on our Capsule Fedora is basically a brim that has its edges curled upwards for added personality and style.
Fedoras also come in different brim finishes:
- When left raw (simply cut and unfinished), this results in a soft brim that fits many personal styles.
- If sewn with one or more lines of stitching, the fedora’s brim gains structure and lends a more detailed look.
- Ribbon-trimmed fedoras gives the wearer a chance to inject another color or texture to the hat; this brim finish often creates a neat and dapper look.
- The “Cavanagh edge” is a special hand-felted finish that gives structure to the brim without the need for stitches. As the Cavanagh edge is no longer being produced, this type of brim finish is rare, found only on vintage fedoras.
The crown of the fedora refers to the top surface of the hat and the “body.”
For most fedoras, the front part is taller than the back, usually with the front pinched enough to make putting on the hat and taking it off smooth and easy.
Made with a solid hat form, fedora crowns begin by having a rounded style and are then shaped by hand into the desired crown shape.
Here are the more popular creases for different types of fedoras:
- The teardrop crease: When viewed from above, the fedora’s crown crease looks just like a teardrop. The front of the hat becomes more pointed, while the back is more rounded. This makes the hat easier to handle by having the side indentions on the crown.
- The diamond crown crease: Similar to the teardrop, the diamond fedora crease is pointed on both sides of the crown and usually features deeper indents than center dent fedoras.
- The center dent crease: A single fold runs down the middle of the crown in this style. The depth of the crease ranges from one to two inches. This style has most often been used for formal wear.
The “pinch” of the fedora, or the two indents on the sides of the crown, often vary on location and the sharpness or softness.
Some lower-quality fedoras have a fused, factory-made, and permanent pinch that looks unauthentic compared to a “real” pinch made by the wearer over time.
Lightly structured pinches, such as those on Brixton’s fedoras, are a great option to achieve that cultured and elegant look with a properly pinched fedora.
Different Types of Fedoras
Sophisticated, lightweight, and comfortable, Brixton’s Marcos Fedora features a polished silhouette. This men's wide-brimmed fedora also has a strong, authentic-looking front pinch. Made from tightly woven Tripilla straw, the Marcos Fedora is more than a straw hat; it’s an adjustable, personalizable, and classic headpiece to fit most spring, summer, or fall outfits.
For a shorter brim straw fedora with a colorful band, the Castor Straw Fedora is a classic example of the perfect balance between summer breeziness and cultured elegance.
Sunshine-ready straw fedoras pair well with polo shirts, collared jackets, and dark jeans.
For a more traditional look, the Gain Fedora tops the list with a short, curved brim, colorful feather embellishment, and a grosgrain band.
Another well-loved classic, the Messer Fedora sports a timeless medium brim with elegant vintage appeal. The light stiffness and faux leather band makes this felt fedora a perfect match for plaid jackets and casual shirts.
Western-styled fedoras that have a larger, flatter brim go hand-in-hand with loose-fitting shirts and smart-looking, unbuttoned jackets. The Messer Western Fedora is a wide-brimmed hat that comes with a more western touch thanks to its braided leather band, and is made with cruelty-free wool felt.
Versatile in lightly structured felt, the Wesley Fedora is a polished take on the classic fedora features.The medium brim and leather band make this headpiece a great choice for women both for the office and on special occasions.
The Leigh Felt Fedora has an elegant pinch and a wide, flat brim that adds just a touch of boldness to your cultured outfit.
Looking for a more modern look? Brixton’s Capsule Fedora is a structured, thoughtfully crafted headpiece that features a sharp pinch and crease in the crown, and a pencil-roll brim that adds depth and nuance to the hat’s overall vibe. The Reno Fedora, one of our favorite fedora hats for women, takes the heritage fedora style up a notch with its iconic teardrop crease and symmetrical front crease, perfectly matching a casual shirt or jacket.
One of the lasting characteristics of the fedora that makes it so well-loved and classic is how easily and stylishly each fedora can be customized to perfectly suit its wearer.
Experiment with different hat accessories such as bands for fedora hats, hat feathers, or even hat brim styles to achieve your unique and elegant look. Fedora hats for women can be stylized with graceful feathers and ribbons, while fedoras for men may be better decorated with wide leather straps for a more western look.
Brixton Fedoras: Classic Hats Done Proper
Here at Brixton, we offer a multitude of different materials, color ranges, features, and fedora accessories that make your fedora purchasing and wearing experience a personal, unique, and stylish one. Brixton fedoras—timeless hats done proper for modern styles, suited for both men and women—are the perfect headpieces to bring cultured elegance to any look.
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