What Hats Do Men Wear in Paris?

Written by matthew caines
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What Hats Do Men Wear in Paris?
The fedora is named after a Parisian play by Victorien Sardou. (fedora image by Jeffrey Sinnock from Fotolia.com)

Paris is considered by many as the fashion capital of the world. With internationally acclaimed shopping districts such as the Saint-Germain de Pres and Le Marais districts, it's no wonder that the French capital is associated with so many styles and trends. Men's hats are one thing that France - and Paris - has had a monopoly on even throughout history, particularly with men's headpieces such as the beret and the fedora.

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The Beret

Quite possibly the most famous and iconic pieces of headwear in history, the French beret was originally worn by the guillotine thugs in the 18th century. It became a standard piece of wear for all males in rural agricultural regions and later became a sign of the French Resistance, giving rise to a famous legend that you could tell the political stance of another man by the slant of his beret. The beret was exclusively a male piece of clothing until the 1920s when Hollywood stars like Marlene Dietrich wore the piece. Nowadays the beret is still worn by Parisian men and is usually made from wool with a silk or leather band around the base of the hat. Modern brands such as Kangol have helped sell the hat as a famous Parisian piece and men's wear must-have.

The Fedora

Although not exclusively Parisian, the fedora actually has deep French roots. The name for the headpiece comes from the title of a heroine in the play Fedora (named after her), presented in Paris by Victorien Sardou in 1882. Perhaps more of a Western fashion icon, the hat is still worn by men all over the world, including Paris. The hat itself is usually made from felt and traditionally has a long flat crease down the centre of its crown; the crease is then pinched at both ends to give a sharp, pointy finish. The headpiece has had a recent resurgence in fashion after its disappearance from the prohibition gangster era in America. The hat has been redesigned and released by famous fashion brands such as Goorin Brothers.

The Pork Pie Hat

Again, although not traditionally associated with Paris, this hat is worn by jazz, blues and ska music enthusiasts of the French capital and Europe. Conceived in Jamaica and imported to Europe by British musicians, the hat is named so because it resembles the shape of an English pork pie. With the spread of popular jazz and blues music, the pork pie hat travelled to Europe and Paris. Similar to a fedora, this headpiece has a shorter, turned-up brim and has a flat crown instead of a creased one. At least the front end is still pinched to make a sharp point. Recently the pork pie hat has been seen in the Parisian fashion shows of John Galliano at Paris Fashion Week 2010.

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