The Bowler Hat is one of the most iconic hat designs in the world. Despite being more than a century and a half old, the Bowler Hat remains a popular fashion choice among both men and women to this day. It has graced the heads of royalty and common folk alike, making the Bowler Hat one of the most versatile hats in the history of modern fashion.
So, what makes the Bowler Hat so special? Why is it called a Bowler Hat? How are you supposed to wear a Bowler Hat? Finally, where can you find a high-quality Bowler Hat for sale online? We will answer all of these questions and more, but first, let’s look at the Bowler Hat design and how it came to be!
What Is A Bowler Hat?
The traditional Bowler Hat goes by many names, including the Billycock, Bob Hat, Bombin, and the Derby Hat (we will explain more about that last confusing name a little later on). Unlike the more old-fashioned top hat that preceded it, the Bowler Hat can be recognized by its distinctive round crown. The brim is generally short and upturned, though dozens of modern versions exist with varied brims. Traditionally, the Bowler was a black felt hat worn by men as a semi-formal accessory. Today, Bowler Hats come in many different shades and styles for both men and women.
Why Is It Called A Bowler Hat?
The answer to this question is very simple. It is called the Bowler Hat because it was originally created by Thomas and William Bowler. Since they devised the original design, it was only natural that the hat took the same name as its creators.
Though historians debate the exact origin of the Bowler Hat, it is often cited that the design came about in London around 1849. The new hat was commissioned by a client of the Bowler family hatmakers. The client needed firm, close-fitting hats to protect hunters from low-hanging branches while on horseback. The exact identity of the original client is also disputed, though many historians believe that it was Thomas William Coke, 1st Earl of Leicester, who requested the new design. The top hats that he and his team of hunters wore would frequently get knocked off and damaged during hunts, so the Bowler Hat provided the perfect solution to their problem.
Over the course of the late 19th Century, the Bowler Hat grew to become one of the most popular hats worn by working-class men in England, Ireland, and even the United States. As time went on, the hat became more closely associated with middle and upper-class gentlemen working in finance. By the early 20th Century, many aristocrats, politicians, and celebrities adopted the look, including such figures as Charlie Chaplin and Winston Churchill (though the latter often preferred the softer design of the Homburg).
It was around this time that women began wearing Bowler Hats as well. It was especially common for men and women who took part in horseback riding sports and activities to wear the hat for protection. In the early 1970s, the hat saw a resurgence in popularity thanks to its use by Liza Minnelli in the film Cabaret.
More recently, the hat has become a popular fashion and status symbol of the 21st Century, with designers producing various iterations and recreations of the original design. Celebrities continue to wear the hat in both its original form and in more modern adaptations. Thanks to its strong, durable design and classic style, the Bowler hat will remain a staple of fashion for decades to come.
How To Wear A Bowler Hat
One of the key benefits of the Bowler Hat is its versatility as a fashion accessory. Not only is it unisex, but it can also accompany a wide range of outfits and personal styles. Moreover, you can wear a Bowler Hat in different positions based on your hair, the time of day, or even your mood!
Though you can have virtually any length of hair and still wear a Bowler Hat comfortably, it is easiest to combine the hat with short hair. If you have short hair, you can wear your Bowler Hat in the standard fashion — with the crown pulled down far enough so that there is still some space between the top of your head and the hat. Additionally, there should be visible space between the brim and top of your ears. This is often known as the standard or “flat” style because the brim remains flat (i.e. perpendicular to the ground).
While the flat style is best for semi-formal or formal occasions, you may want to learn how to wear a Bowler Hat casually as well. Fortunately, the less formal styles are basically the same for both men and women, regardless of your length of hair. The Bowler Hat can be placed lightly on top of your head, with the front of the brim facing upward. This style has become one of the most popular ways to wear the Bowler Hat in recent years.
Additionally, the Bowler Hat can be worn with a slight decline to the brim. In other words, the crown can be seated more tightly on the head, while the front of the brim is pointed downward. This style might be adopted to shield the face or eyes from the sun or wind, or simply to keep a sense of anonymity!
Finally, there are various alternative ways to wear a Bowler Hat that can fit different environments or styles. It has been common among musicians (particularly Jazz musicians) to wear Bowler Hats with the brim slanted to one side. This style is casual, yet more likely to draw the eye, as it is an obvious departure from the other ways of positioning the Bowler Hat.
Bowler Vs Derby Hats
While the Bowler Hat has a unique history and has been immensely popular for more than a century, it is often confused with other hat styles. More specifically, there is frequently confusion between the terms “Bowler” and “Derby.” However, the distinction is relatively clear. Bowler Hat is simply the name that the hat design took in England, while Americans historically referred to it as the Derby Hat. Thus, there is no real difference between a Bowler Hat and a Derby Hat.
Nonetheless, this caused even more confusion because of the existence of the Kentucky Derby Hat, also known as the Derby Fascinator. Both of these names refer to a completely different style of hats traditionally worn by women attending horse races, namely the Kentucky Derby. Despite the similarity in name, these hats have no stylistic or historical connection with the Derby Hat created by Thomas and William Bowler.
The Bottom Line
As you can see, the Bowler Hat is more than just a chic fashion accessory; it is also a symbol of status and even a part of European and American history. While the elegance and sophistication of the hat are readily apparent in its design, you may worry that it’s difficult to acquire an authentic Bowler Hat. Fortunately, Bellissimo Hats has got you covered. We offer high-quality Bowlers in various sizes to fit your specific needs and budget!
If you’d like to find a high-quality hat for sale today, you can buy a Bowler Hat at Bellissimo Hats with just a few clicks!