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Humphrey Bogart and James Cagney. Clark Kent and FDR: the Bowler and the Topper disappeared at the drop of a hat. For most of the 20th Century, up until about 1960 when John Kennedy took off his hat at his presidential inauguration, men were not considered dressed for work without a hat. In that century, the fedora was king (also known as a trilby in Europe) supplanting, in short order, all other styles for men.
Although the style is mostly associated with men, the name “Fedora” comes from the heroine of French playwright Victorien Sardou's drama presented in Paris in 1882. She wore the hat style that would become the hallmark of movie tough guys, Chicago gangsters, private eyes, newspaper reporters–in fact by the 1930s, virtually every man who put on a suit of cloths topped off with a fedora. If you are reading this and your grandfather came from either Europe or North America, chances are he wore a fedora.
Today, the fedora is, hands down, the best selling men's style (we're talking hats, not ball caps). The safari style, a fedora crown with a brim turned down in the front and the back, received a huge boost with the Indiana Jones movies where Indy's hat was emblematic of the man. When we in the hat business engage our fantasy of men's hats coming back in general fashion, what we picture is the fedora. The fedora was, and can be again, everyman's hat–the true successor to the bowler. Snap the brim and let your girlfriend know "Here's looking at you kid."
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