Fedora Hats and the Men Who Wore Them

Origin of the Fedora

The fedora is an old hat. The origin can be traced back as far as the 1800s. The hat makers in Europe wanted to create a fashion accessory for the upper class members of society. And so for 200 years after its invention, the Fedora enjoyed moderate success. But at the turn of the 20th century the classic fedora skyrocketed to fame and in the United States it became a signature hat as well as a legendary fashion accessory.

The name of the hat was from a play written by French dramatist Victorien Sardou. The play was entitled fedora, named after the main character, Princess Fedora Romazova. The princess wore a similar type of hat with soft felt design.

Fedora in Popular Culture

It was in the 1920s and 1930s when the fedora became synonymous with men’s authority and men’s virility. Famous actors are seen with their fedora hats. Famous detectives wear them when they go out hunting leads and capturing high profile criminals. But it was not only law-abiding citizens with squeaky-clean images that adorned their heads with this hat. Probation-era gangsters also loved this hat. In effect it added to the mystique of the headgear. Almost everyone wanted a fedora.

The Fedora and the Movies

Humphrey Bogart was a tremendous actor, an iconic figure that was emulated from New York to Australia. When he wore a fedora in the classic film  Casablanca, every male in the theater wanted to buy a fedora if they did not own one yet. In the popular film franchise Indiana Jones, Harrison Ford’s character led two lives, one was an adventurous treasure hunter and the other one was a staid-looking professor of Antiquities. When Indiana Jones transformed himself from a serious-looking teacher into a daredevil adventurer he adorned himself with a wide-brimmed fedora. Matt Damon had one in the movie The Adjustment Bureau. The fedora appeared in movies numerous times, in fact, even Freddy Kruger wore one.

The Fedora and the Music Business

It is almost impossible to imagine the Blue Brothers without a Fedora. At one time Justin Timberlake was spotted with a Fedora when walking the Red Carpet. Frank Sinatra, James Dean and Sammy Davis, Jr. all wore fedora hats.

The Gangsters and their Fedora

Gangsters would love nothing more than to be respected as legitimate businessmen. They adorn themselves with expensive suits and ties. But their character and personalities are not easily subdued by convention or etiquette. As a result their suits are not your typical business attire, they feature wider stripes and bolder glen plaids. The same thing can be said about their fedora. Their hats come in wide colors, such as, almond green, petrol blue, and lilac. The popularity of the fedora declined in the 1960s but there was resurgence in the 1970s when the movie The Godfather was a critical and box-office success.