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A collection of 18th and 19th century men's beaver felt hats Chapeaux en peau de castor.jpg
A collection of 18th and 19th century men's beaver felt hats
Woman in a Flowered Hat (1889), by Pierre-Auguste Renoir: Straw hat with brim decorated with cloth flowers and ribbons Pierre Auguste Renoir - Woman in a Flowered Hat - Google Art Project.jpg
Woman in a Flowered Hat (1889), by Pierre-Auguste Renoir: Straw hat with brim decorated with cloth flowers and ribbons

A hat is a head covering which is worn for various reasons, including protection against weather conditions, ceremonial reasons such as university graduation, religious reasons, safety, or as a fashion accessory. [1] In the past, hats were an indicator of social status. [2] In the military, hats may denote nationality, branch of service, rank or regiment. [3] Police typically wear distinctive hats such as peaked caps or brimmed hats, such as those worn by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Some hats have a protective function. As examples, the hard hat protects construction workers' heads from injury by falling objects and a British police Custodian helmet protects the officer's head, a sun hat shades the face and shoulders from the sun, a cowboy hat protects against sun and rain and an ushanka fur hat with fold-down earflaps keeps the head and ears warm. Some hats are worn for ceremonial purposes, such as the mortarboard, which is worn (or carried) during university graduation ceremonies. Some hats are worn by members of a certain profession, such as the Toque worn by chefs. Some hats have religious functions, such as the mitres worn by Bishops and the turban worn by Sikhs.



The 27,000-to-30,000-year-old Venus of Willendorf may depict a woman wearing a woven hat. Willendorf-Venus-1468.jpg
The 27,000-to-30,000-year-old Venus of Willendorf may depict a woman wearing a woven hat.

While there are not many official records of hats before 3,000 BC, they probably were commonplace before that. The 27,000-to-30,000-year-old Venus of Willendorf figurine may depict a woman wearing a woven hat. [4] One of the earliest known confirmed hats was worn by a Bronze Age man (nicknamed Ötzi) whose body (including his hat) was found frozen in a mountain between Austria and Italy, where he'd been since around 3250 BC. He was found wearing a bearskin cap with a chin strap, made of several hides stitched together, essentially resembling a Russian fur hat without the flaps. [5] [6] [7]

One of the first pictorial depictions of a hat appears in a tomb painting from Thebes, Egypt, which shows a man wearing a conical straw hat, dated to around 3200 BC. Hats were commonly worn in ancient Egypt. Many upper-class Egyptians shaved their heads, then covered it in a headdress intended to help them keep cool. Ancient Mesopotamians often wore conical hats or ones shaped somewhat like an inverted vase.

Hats as an indicator of social status: a foreman (with horse) wears a hat of greater height than the accompanying inquilino (19th-century Chile). Inquilinos.gif
Hats as an indicator of social status: a foreman (with horse) wears a hat of greater height than the accompanying inquilino (19th-century Chile).

Other early hats include the Pileus, a simple skull-like cap; the Phrygian cap, worn by freed slaves in Greece and Rome (which became iconic in America during the Revolutionary War and the French Revolution, as a symbol of the struggle for liberty against the Monarchy); and the Greek petasos, the first known hat with a brim. Women wore veils, kerchiefs, hoods, caps and wimples.

Like Ötzi, the Tollund Man was preserved to the present day with a hat on, probably having died around 400 BC in a Danish bog, which mummified him. He wore a pointed cap made of sheepskin and wool, fastened under the chin by a hide thong. [8]

St. Clement, the patron saint of felt hatmakers, is said to have discovered felt when he filled his sandals with flax fibers to protect his feet, around 800 AD. [9]

In the Middle Ages, hats were a marker of social status and used to single out certain groups. The 1215 Fourth Council of the Lateran required that all Jews identify themselves by wearing the Judenhat ("Jewish hat"), marking them as targets for anti-Semitism. [10] The hats were usually yellow and were either pointed or square. [11]

Carle Vernet's 1796 painting showing two decadent French "Incredibles" greeting each other, one with what appears to be a top hat, perhaps its first recorded appearance. Charles-vernet-top-hat.jpg
Carle Vernet's 1796 painting showing two decadent French "Incredibles" greeting each other, one with what appears to be a top hat, perhaps its first recorded appearance.

In the Middle Ages, hats for women ranged from simple scarves to elaborate hennin, [12] and denoted social status. Structured hats for women similar to those of male courtiers began to be worn in the late 16th century. [13] The term 'milliner' comes from the Italian city of Milan, where the best quality hats were made in the 18th century. Millinery was traditionally a woman's occupation, with the milliner not only creating hats and bonnets but also choosing lace, trimmings and accessories to complete an outfit. [14]

Left-to-right: Top-hat, peaked cap, Borsalino, bowler hat (Sweden, early 20th century). Gruppbild sv arbetsforman vid Laten Hospitalbygge - Nordiska Museet - NMA.0056803.jpg
Left-to-right: Top-hat, peaked cap, Borsalino, bowler hat (Sweden, early 20th century).

In the first half of the 19th century, women wore bonnets that gradually became larger, decorated with ribbons, flowers, feathers, and gauze trims. By the end of the century, many other styles were introduced, among them hats with wide brims and flat crowns, the flower pot and the toque. By the middle of the 1920s, when women began to cut their hair short, they chose hats that hugged the head like a helmet. [13]

The tradition of wearing hats to horse racing events began at the Royal Ascot in Britain, which maintains a strict dress code. All guests in the Royal Enclosure must wear hats. [15] This tradition was adopted at other horse racing events, such as the Kentucky Derby in the United States. [16]

Extravagant hats were popular in the 1980s, and in the early 21st century, flamboyant hats made a comeback, with a new wave of competitive young milliners designing creations that include turban caps, trompe-l'oeil-effect felt hats and tall headpieces made of human hair. Some new hat collections have been described as "wearable sculpture." Many pop stars, among them Lady Gaga, have commissioned hats as publicity stunts. [17]

A hat shop from about 1900 inside the Roscheider Hof Open Air Museum. RhofHutladen1.jpg
A hat shop from about 1900 inside the Roscheider Hof Open Air Museum.

Famous hatmakers

One of the most famous London hatters is James Lock & Co. of St James's Street. [18] The shop claims to be the oldest operating hat shop in the world. [19] Another was Sharp & Davis of 6 Fish Street Hill. [20] In the late 20th century, museums credited London-based David Shilling with reinventing hats worldwide. Notable Belgian hat designers are Elvis Pompilio and Fabienne Delvigne (Royal warrant of appointment holder), whose hats are worn by European royals. [21] Philip Treacy OBE is an award-winning Irish milliner whose hats have been commissioned by top designers [22] and worn at royal weddings. [23] In North America, the well-known cowboy-hat manufacturer Stetson made the headgear for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the Texas Rangers. [24] John Cavanagh was one of the notable American hatters. [25] Italian hat maker Borsalino has covered the heads of Hollywood stars and the world's rich and famous. [26]


The Philippi Collection is a collection of religious headgear assembled by a German entrepreneur, Dieter Philippi, located in Kirkel. [27] The collection features over 500 hats, [28] and is currently the world's largest collection of clerical, ecclesiastical and religious head coverings. [29]


This is a short list of some common and iconic examples of hats. There is a longer version at List of hat styles.

DarkGreenAscotCapOnHead.jpg Ascot cap A hard men's cap, similar to the flat cap, but distinguished by its hardness and rounded shape.
Balmoral bonnet black.jpg Balmoral bonnet Traditional Scottish bonnet or cap worn with Scottish Highland dress.
Texas Tech Red Raiders baseball cap.jpg Baseball cap A type of soft, light cotton cap with a rounded crown and a stiff, frontward-projecting brim.
Adidas Beanie.png Beanie A brimless cap, with or without a small visor, once popular among school boys. Sometimes includes a propeller.
Note: In New Zealand, Australia, the United States and the United Kingdom, "beanie" also or otherwise refers to the tuque.
1st Sardinia Grenadiers Bastille Day 2007 n1.jpg Bearskin The tall, furry hat of the Brigade of Guards' full-dress uniform, originally designed to protect them against sword-cuts, etc. Commonly seen at Buckingham Palace in London, England. Sometimes mistakenly identified as a busby.
Austria-GreenBeret.jpg Beret A soft round cap, usually of woollen felt, with a bulging flat crown and tight-fitting brimless headband. Worn by both men and women and traditionally associated with Basque people, France, and the military. Often part of [European?] schoolgirls' uniform during the 1920s, '30s and '40s.
Detail from a painting of Napoleon.jpg Bicorne A broad-brimmed felt hat with brim folded up and pinned front and back to create a long-horned shape. Also known as a cocked hat. Worn by European military officers in the 1790s and, as illustrated, commonly associated with Napoleon.
Bowler Hat sw fcm.jpg Bowler / Derby A hard felt hat with a rounded crown created in 1850 by Lock's of St James's, the hatters to Thomas Coke, 2nd Earl of Leicester, for his servants. More commonly known as a Derby in the United States.
Buntaljfccc.JPG Buntal A traditional straw hat from the Philippines woven from fibers extracted from buri palms.
Greenmustardorangbluechullo.jpg Chullo Peruvian or Bolivian hat with ear-flaps made from vicuña, alpaca, llama or sheep's wool. [30]
Vilmabanky.jpg Cloche hat A bell-shaped ladies' hat that was popular during the Roaring Twenties.
SidBarnesHeadshot.jpg Cricket cap A type of soft cap traditionally worn by cricket players.
Sombrero-cordobes.jpg Sombrero Cordobés A traditional flat-brimmed and flat-topped hat originating from Córdoba, Spain, associated with flamenco dancing and music and popularized by characters such as Zorro.
Conical hat.jpg Conical Asian hat A conical straw hat associated with East and Southeast Asia. Sometimes known as a "coolie hat", although the term "coolie" may be interpreted as derogatory. [31] [32]
Cap of American opossum with a raccoon tail (Davy Crockett style).jpg Coonskin cap A hat, fashioned from the skin and fur of a raccoon, that became associated with Canadian and American frontiersmen of the 18th and 19th centuries.
Hampshire helmet constable.jpg Custodian helmet A helmet traditionally worn by British police constables while on foot patrol.
YellowHardHat.jpg Deerstalker A warm, close-fitting tweed cap, with brims front and behind and ear-flaps that can be tied together either over the crown or under the chin. Originally designed for use while hunting in the climate of Scotland. Worn by –and so closely associated with – the character Sherlock Holmes.
Hatt.jpg Fedora A soft felt hat with a medium brim and lengthwise crease in the crown.
Fes.jpg Fez Red felt hat in the shape of a truncated cone, common to Arab-speaking countries.
Chapeau berger Peul-Institut d'ethnologie de Strasbourg-2.jpg Fulani hat A conical plant fiber hat covered in leather both at the brim and top, worn by men of the Fulani people in West Africa.
Prince Sultan.jpg Keffiyah Three piece ensemble consisting of a Thagiyah skull cap, Gutrah scarf, and Ogal black band. Gutrahs are plain white or checkered, denoting ethnic or national identities.[ citation needed ].
Schutzhelm.jpg Hard hat A rounded rigid helmet with a small brim predominantly used in workplace environments, such as construction sites, to protect the head from injury by falling objects, debris and bad weather.
IDF soldier kippah put on tefillin-small.jpg Kippah A hemispherical cap worn by Jews to fulfill the customary requirement held by halachic authorities that the head be covered at all times.
Umaru Yar'Adua VOA.jpg Kufi A brimless, short, rounded cap worn by Africans and people throughout the African diaspora.
Visita di Papa Benedetto XVI a Genova - 2008-05-18 - Primo piano di Benedetto XVI.jpg Mitre Distinctive hat worn by bishops in the Roman Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox Church, and the Anglican Communion.
Enrique ponce.jpg Montera A crocheted hat worn by bullfighters.
Panama hat.jpg Panama Straw hat made in Ecuador.
Bust Attis CdM.jpg Phrygian Cap A soft conical cap pulled forward. In sculpture, paintings and caricatures it represents freedom and the pursuit of liberty. The popular cartoon characters The Smurfs wear white Phrygian caps.
DorisDay-midnightlace.jpg Pillbox hat A small hat with straight, upright sides, a flat crown, and no brim.
PithHelmetTruman.jpg Pith Helmet A lightweight rigid cloth-covered helmet made of cork or pith, with brims front and back. Worn by Europeans in tropical colonies in the 1800s.
Rasta Man Barbados.jpg Rastacap A tall, round, usually crocheted and brightly colored, cap worn by Rastafarians and others with dreadlocks to tuck their locks away.
Santa Hat.jpg Santa Hat A floppy pointed red hat trimmed in white fur traditionally associated with Christmas.
Harry S Truman sombrero.jpg Sombrero A Mexican hat with a conical crown and a very wide, saucer-shaped brim, highly embroidered made of plush felt.
Felthat.jpg Stetson Also known as a "Cowboy Hat". A high-crowned, wide-brimmed hat, with a sweatband on the inside, and a decorative hat band on the outside. Customized by creasing the crown and rolling the brim. [33]
Tam-o-shanters.jpg Tam o'Shanter A traditional flat, round Scottish cap usually worn by men (in the British military sometimes abbreviated ToS).
Tophat.jpg Top hat Also known as a beaver hat, a magician's hat, or, in the case of the tallest examples, a stovepipe hat. A tall, flat-crowned, cylindrical hat worn by men in the 19th and early 20th centuries, now worn only with morning dress or evening dress. Cartoon characters Uncle Sam and Mr. Monopoly are often depicted wearing such hats. Once made from felted beaver fur.
Chef Hat.JPG Toque (informally, "chef's hat") A tall, pleated, brimless, cylindrical hat traditionally worn by chefs.
Peter the Great Reenactor.jpg Tricorne A soft hat with a low crown and broad brim, pinned up on either side of the head and at the back, producing a triangular shape. Worn by Europeans in the 18th century. Larger, taller, and heavily ornamented brims were present in France and the Papal States.
Yellowhat.jpg Tuque In Canada, a knitted hat, worn in winter, usually made from wool or acrylic. Also known as a ski cap, knit hat, knit cap, sock cap, stocking cap, toboggan, watch cap, or goobalini. In New Zealand, Australia, the United States and the United Kingdom, the term "beanie" is applied to this cap.
Sikh wearing turban.jpg Turban A headdress consisting of a scarf-like single piece of cloth wound around either the head itself or an inner hat.
Grayushanka.jpg Ushanka A Russian fur hat with fold-down ear-flaps.
Cardinal zucchetto 2003 modified 2008-15-08.jpg Zucchetto Skullcap worn by clerics, typically in Roman Catholicism.


Hat sizes are determined by measuring the circumference of a person's head about 1 centimetre (12 in) above the ears. Inches or centimeters may be used depending on the manufacturer. Felt hats can be stretched for a custom fit. Some hats, like hard hats and baseball caps, are adjustable. Cheaper hats come in "standard sizes", such as small, medium, large, extra large: the mapping of measured size to the various "standard sizes" varies from maker to maker and style to style, as can be seen by studying various catalogues, such as Hammacher Schlemmer. [34]

Hat sizes
Age (years)01211 122
Circumference in cm34434748495051–5253–5455–5657–5859–6061–6263–6465–66
Circumference in inches13 381718 1218 3419 1419 3420 1820 1220 5821 1421 58–222212–22782314–235824–24382434–251425–26
UK hat size55346–618614–638612–658634–6787–718714–738712–758734–7788–818
US hat size57866186146–612658–634678–7718–714738–712758–734778–8818–814
French hat size01211122–2123–3124–4125–5126–6127–7128–8129–912

See also

Related Research Articles

Philip Treacy Irish-born haute couture milliner

Philip Anthony Treacy is an award-winning Irish-born haute couture milliner, or hat designer, who has been mostly based in London for his career, and who was described by Vogue magazine as "perhaps the greatest living milliner". In 2000, Treacy became the first milliner in eighty years to be invited to exhibit at the Paris haute couture fashion shows. He has won British Accessory Designer of the Year at the British Fashion Awards five times, and has received public honours in both Britain and Ireland. His designs have been displayed at the Victoria and Albert Museum and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Hatmaking Manufacture and design of hats and headwear

Hat-making or millinery is the design, manufacture and sale of hats and head-wear. A person engaged in this trade is called a milliner or hatter.

Bonnet (headgear) headwear usually tied under the chin and having a front brim

Bonnet has been used as the name for a wide variety of headgear for both sexes—more often female—from the Middle Ages to the present. As with "hat" and "cap", it is impossible to generalize as to the styles for which the word has been used, but there is for both sexes a tendency to use the word for pop styles in soft material and lacking a brim, or at least one all the way round, rather than just at the front. Yet the term has also been used, for example, for steel helmets. This was from Scotland, where the term has long been especially popular.

Stetson Brand of hat manufactured by the John B. Stetson Company

Stetson is a brand of hat manufactured by the John B. Stetson Company.

Camauro Cap worn by the pope of the Roman Catholic Church

A camauro is a cap traditionally worn by the Pope of the Catholic Church.

Pillbox hat small hat with no brim

A pillbox hat is a small hat, usually worn by women, with a flat crown, straight, upright sides, and no brim. It is named after the small cylindrical or hexagonal cases that pills used to be sold in.

Fascinator style of headpiece

A fascinator is a formal headpiece for women, a style of millinery, originally of lightweight knitted fabric. Since the 1990s the term refers to a type of formal headwear worn as an alternative to the hat; it is usually a large decorative design attached to a band or clip, sometimes incorporating a base to resemble a hat, in which case it may be called a hatinator.

Simone Mirman British milliner

Simone Mirman (1912–2008) was a Paris-born milliner based in London, chiefly known for her designs for the British Royal Family.

Stephen Jones (milliner) British milliner (*1957)

Stephen Jones OBE is a leading British milliner based in London, who is considered one of the world's most radical and important milliners of the late 20th and early 21st centuries. He is also one of the most prolific, having created hats for the catwalk shows of many leading couturiers and fashion designers, such as John Galliano at Dior and Vivienne Westwood. His work is known for its inventiveness and the high level of technical expertise with which he realises his ideas. Jones co-curated the 2009 exhibition Hats: An Anthology for the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Headgear Any covering for the head; element of clothing which is worn on ones head

Headgear, headwear or headdress is the name given to any element of clothing which is worn on one's head.

Frederick Fox LVO was an Australian-born British milliner who designed hats for Queen Elizabeth II and other members of the British Royal Family.

John Boyd (milliner) Scottish milliner in London

John Richardson Boyd MBE was a Scottish milliner based in London. Designing hats for over seventy-five years, Boyd was one of London's most respected milliners and is known for his creations for Diana, Princess of Wales and Anne, Princess Royal. Boyd was a milliner to three generations of Diana's family – Diana, her mother Frances Shand Kydd and grandmother Ruth Roche, Baroness Fermoy – and had remained at the centre of his craft adding another generation of royals with Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge. Turning 92 in April 2017, Boyd had one of the longest millinery careers in the world whilst continuing to practise his art before his death in 2018. Boyd’s label continues with his protégé and senior milliner Sarah Marshall.

Draped turban

A draped turban or turban hat is a millinery design in which fabric is draped to create headwear closely moulded to the head. Sometimes it may be stiffened or padded, although simpler versions may just comprise wound fabric that is knotted or stitched. It may include a peak, feather or other details to add height. It generally covers most or all of the hair.

Halo hat brimmed hat worn well back on the head, framing the face with a halo effect

A halo hat is a millinery design in which the headgear acts as a circular frame for the face, creating a halo effect. The design is said to date back to the late 19th century, when it was known as the aureole hat; this name is sometimes still used. It may also be known as the angel hat or bambini – the latter said to derive from Italian for terracotta plaques depicting the infant Christ.

Claude Saint-Cyr French milliner based London and Paris

For the French general and diplomat, see Claude Carra Saint-Cyr

Half hat

A half hat is a millinery design in which the hat covers part of the head. Generally, the design is close-fitting, in the manner of the cloche, and frames the head, usually stopping just above the ears. It may be similar to a halo hat in the way that it frames the face and can be worn straight or at an angle.

Peach basket hat hat design resembling a basket of fruit

A peach basket hat is a millinery design that resembles an upturned country basket of the style typically used to collect fruit. Generally it is made of straw or similar material and it often has a trimming of flowers and ribbons. Some models may also feature a veil or draped fabric covering. It was introduced in around 1908 and caused some controversy over the succeeding year due to its extreme dimensions and decorations. It had revivals – designs were at this stage more modest – in the 1930s and 1950s.

Salvation Army bonnet

The Salvation Army bonnet was a millinery design worn by female members of the Salvation Army. It was introduced in 1880 in the UK and was worn as headgear by most female officers in western countries. It began to be phased out from the late 1960s.

Bumper brim

A bumper brim is a millinery feature in which the hat brim is tubular in design, making it a prominent feature of the hat. In order to achieve this effect, the brim may be rolled, stiffened or padded. A bumper brim can be added to a variety of hat designs, from small to large.


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