Use this image of prince Edward to reclaim the fedora.

Reclaim the Fedora

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The fedora hasn’t had a good reputation lately. The appearance of some memes and pictures of ugly and uncivilised people wearing fedora variants has tarnished its good name. I say variants because the hats in the pictures are usually low-end cheap imitations made of synthetic materials. Here in Eastern Europe, they’re usually sold by gypsies on the street and usually purchased by people with no sense of fashion. This makes people associate the fedora with low quality and no fashion sense, so they avoid wearing it.

reclaim the fedora from this guy
Not exactly a fashion icon.

However, this wasn’t always so. Quite to the contrary, this hat was once considered a very fashionable and chic accessory. 

The first appearance of the fedora is in 1882, in the popular stage play aptly named Fédora, by the French author Victorien Sardou. In the premiere, the leading lady was played by the famous actress Sarah Bernhardt, who was known for wearing mannish (if not quite men’s) clothing wore a soft felt hat. The play was a great success in France as well as America. Inspired by the famous actress, many suffragettes began wearing this kind of hat which came to be known as the fedora style of hat. 

The fedora also became popular among men of the middle and working classes. In those days, people rarely left their homes without hats on and the fedora was a soft hat which could be formed and moulded depending on the occasion, thus giving the wearer much flexibility. Owning a fedora meant that a man didn’t need to buy as many hats as it was appropriate for many occasions. 

Gentlemen and the higher classes would only wear fedoras in informal occasions, such as for example in the countryside. However, this all changed in the 1920s when prince Edward (later Edward VIII) appeared in public wearing a fedora. What followed was an explosion of fedora-wearing and the golden era of the fedora, ending only in the 1960s. 

Use this image to reclaim the fedora

Many films of that period depict men as well as women wearing fedoras. It was worn by gangsters, detectives, adventurers, really the fedora was everywhere. But, as I mentioned in my last article, the popularity of the fedora started declining in the 1960s. From then until today, there were still a few people and characters who wear fedoras, such as Michael Jackson, Johnny Depp or Indiana Jones, but overall, the golden age of the fedora was gone. 

Regardless, there are still fedoras made and you can still wear one. If you want to enrich your style with a fedora, I recommend that you find your local hatter. I live in a relatively provincial town, but we nevertheless have a town hatter who produces high quality hats made out of quality materials. Or you can visit your local second hand store and find an original vintage fedora, from the golden age of fedora. 

Quality hats will have a broader range of sizes, unlike the fast fashion and Chinese-made hats, which all come in single size or come just in S, M or L. It’s better to avoid fast-fashion brand fedoras. A good fedora is usually made of wool and is a very soft and flexible hat which can be moulded whichever way you choose. 

In the past, it was considered a casual hat, but today it’s considered to be more formal. You can wear it with a suit in a more classical combination, or you can experiment and combine it with a few casual pieces mixed with a more structured piece here and there. It goes very well with a high-low combination as well. If you want to capture that evergreen style of the film noir, you can even wear it with a long coat or a trench coat. 

A fedora is very easy to maintain, insofar as it is made out of wool. Wool fedoras are rainproof and can be air-dried after coming home on a rainy day. All you’ll need is a brush to dust it from time to time. When storing your fedoras, for example during the summer months, it’s not a bad idea to store them with dried lavender to safeguard against moths. 

I hope that my piece helps you gain an appreciation for the fedora. In the future, when you think of the fedora, think of prince Edward and not the fat guy from the memes. This should give you the courage necessary to reclaim the fedora. 

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