The explosion various hat-related memes over the past few years have sparked a debate has as to what constitutes a Trilby vs. a Fedora. The fedora became an endangered species towards the end of the 1960’s, and the styles of the 1970’s signaled its death knell. There are many conspiracies as to why its popularity declined, from President Kennedy being the first president to not wear one to the automobile being too small for a head to wear a hat. In any case, reports of its death have been greatly exaggerated. Many people held out and wore hats regardless of the fashion of the day, and since the turn of the century, the fedora has made a reemergence – you see them on professional athletes, musicians, actors, politicians, in style magazines and more.
While the hat’s popularity has reemerged, it seems that general knowledge about hat styles, materials, and more has not yet caught up, and the fedora became universally applied to several styles. This is unsurprising as many hat styles are very similar, with just small changes to various parts of the hat, either in size, shape, or material.
Simply type in “fedora meme” to any search engine, and you’ll be bombarded with hundreds of images, some funny, some cringe-worthy, and some just outright mean (it’s much easier to sit behind a keyboard and make fun of someone than to have the confidence to go out and be yourself, although we recommend pairing hats with appropriate apparel, utility, occasions and grooming). As these memes started popping up from a variety of forums and image boards commenting on people wearing hats, most were identified as a fedora. And because one of the most popular internet sports is telling someone they’re wrong, comments began popping up correcting the authors that that the hats in question were actually Trilbys.
The Trilby Shape
The trilby is generally considered a specific type of fedora (much like a square is a specific type of rectangle,) but it definitely stands on its own as a specific type of hat. A trilby generally has a much smaller brim (sometimes called a “Stingy Brim” fedora), and sometimes a taller crown than your standard fedora. Like a fedora, the trilby has a hat band, usually a ribbon, but unlike the fedora, the trilby has emerged with many more patterns and colors. The brim of the hat is generally flipped up in the back and down in the front. So in general, if you see a hat that looks like a fedora, but it has a very small brim, chances are it can be considered a Trilby.
The trilby gets its name from George du Maurier’s 1894 novel Trilby, and specifically from the stage production of the play which used the hat style.
At Fedoras.com, we recommend the trilby for individuals who do not have as broad of shoulders, have a skinnier face, and are tall and lengthy. Musicians of late have really embraced the Trilby such as Pharrell, Jason Mraz, and Bruno Mars. One of the modern icons of trilby fashion is Justin Timberlake, who seems to pull it off very well about 95% of the time (we’ll just ignore the 2001 all-denim suit and denim trilby).
The fedora is more of a classic look with a much wider brim then the trilby, and made of more traditional hat materials such as beaver / rabbit / or wool fur felt or mixtures thereof. Further confusing the landscape, The Panama (ironically of Ecuadorian origin and popularized during the construction of the Panama Canal) hat is pretty much identical in shape to a fedora, but normally made using varieties of straw. Fedoras traditionally are more subdued and conservative, with earthy tones and colors, and match best with suits and semi-formal wear. This is especially true due to the wider-shouldered profile suit and sports jackets create. Fedoras are not limited to just suits, they also seem to fit archaeologists very well, especially with a leather jacket, a whip. At least if you’re named Harrison Ford.