The early 1900s began with a taste for formal and romantic elegance in which a man's outfit, minus a hat, would be deemed inappropriate for a gentleman. Men had many styles of hats to choose from, from elegant to casual. Both in Europe and the United States, the preference for headwear for men and women remained strong in the early 20th century and until the 1950s, a hat was an essential part of a man's wardrobe. Some of these styles are still evident today.
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Upper class formalwear consisted of a top hat for men. These flat-brimmed hats were made of black silk and featured a tall, straight-edged crown. Top hats were typically worn with a hatband, which is a band of fabric in a different colour that sits at the base of the crown.
One of the hats worn with lounge wear or sack suits was the soft, felt Homburg hat. It was considered a multipurpose hat as it completed many non-formal outfits despite having a formal look. The Homburg had a slightly curled brim and its crown featured a dent. Homburg hats were typically made of fur felt or wool and sometimes had a feather attached to their hatband.
Fedora hats in the 1900s were considered flamboyant. It was another multipurpose hat ideal for almost any occasion. Its crown featured several indents and its brim, known as the "snap-brim," could be snapped up or down.
Bowler hats, also known as derby hats, were stiff and also worn with lounge or sack suits. These were made out of black or brown felt and featured a round crown with a moderate height and a curled brim. Bowler or derby hats were appropriate for many occasions, except the formal ones.
Casual occasions called for flat straw boater hats. These hats were stiff with wide brims and made entirely of straw with a ribbon often tied around the crown. Boater hats were worn only during the summer. Two types of boaters were the panama and sailor. The panama's crown was at a moderate height with a dent in the middle and a ribbon tied around. The sailor had a low, flat crown in a cylinder shape and featured a brim that was 2 inches or wider.
Besides hats, headwear in the 1900s also consisted of caps, which were typically without brims and sat comfortably on the crown of the head. They were usually made of a softer fabric than hats, such as wool or wool tweed. Caps were less dressy than hats and softer. Though less popular than hats, caps were often chosen for outdoor activities such as driving a car.
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