The golden age of Hollywood immortalized the polished, good looks of a well dressed man. The hat was not just an accessory — it made the man who he was. Gangster or hero, ladies’ man or comedian, 1930s men’s hats had a style for everyone.
Formal attire required the silk top hat, while the Homburg or Fedora has worn by most business men. The round bowler (or derby) continued to be worn by men, yet diminished in popularity by the end of the decade. For casual days or working classes, the cap, both wide 8 panel and slim ivy caps, were the ideal choice.
Which 1930s hat style fits you? Take a look at the most common men’s hat styles during the decade.
1930s Fedora or Trilby
One of the most popular hats for men in the 1930s was the fur felt hat known as a Trilby or Fedora. The fedora is nearly identical, with the Trilby having a slightly shorter crown. These hats are worn in Hollywood movies by both the smart and handsome detectives and the rough and dangerous gangsters. Indiana Jones wears one too. Good or bad, a few details make 1930s Fedora and Trilby hats different from their successors in the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s:
- Popular colors: dark brown, tan, grey, black, olive green, medium blue. White or ivory in summer.
- Tall crown. 5 3/4 inches with a 2 1/4 inch brim.
- Made of soft fur felt.
- Featured a deep crease down the center top of the hat that angled toward the back of the head. Or diamond shape crown.
- Front pinch or crown sides were indented on most styles.
- The narrow brim was turned up all the way around, snap at the back and down in the front, or all down in summer models.
- A wide Petersham band wrapped the hat.
- A flat Petersham bow was placed on one side of the hat band.
- Matching Petersham ribbon bound the hat brim.
- Sometimes they were worn tilted to one side.
Most felt hats remained nameless in the 1930s. There were many varieties with small adjustments in crown height and shaping. Most men would purchase hats from a haberdasher, where the hats were shaped to suit the customer’s face.
1930s Homburg Hat
The hat most older men and gangsters preferred was the center dent “Conservative Fedora” also called a Homburg. A slightly more formal hat than the soft fedora, it had straight sides (no dent) and a deep center dent. It was quite tall, about 5.5 inches, giving the wearer height and prominence.
1930s Homburg hats featured:
- Fur felt construction.
- Tall crown with center crease.
- Wide brim in the first half of the 30’s and narrower in the second half.
- Curled brim with matching Petersham ribbon and band in the same color as the hat. A few versions had lighter color trim with a dark band.
- Most popularly made in a medium grey, followed by black and then brown.
The Homburg’s popularity was revived by 1972 The Godfather movie, resulting in it being nicknamed “The Godfather Hat.”
1930s Bowler or Derby Hat
A carry-over from the past four decades, the classic Bowler Hat — also called a Derby — was just as popular as ever in the 1930s. The traditional hard top felt was replaced by softer, more breathable felt in the ’30s. Other details of 1930s bowler include:
- Most popular in black, grey or brown.
- Tall and round crown.
- Narrow curled brim often curled higher on the sides.
- Petersham ribbon binding on brim.
- Matching black Petersham ribbon on crown with a flat side bow.
Another carryover from decades past is the casual cap, called an Ivy, golf cap or driving cap today. The 1920s style newsboy cap with an 8/4 panel design attached to a short brim was still worn in the 1930s. The newer style was the one piece cap that eventually gave way to a more sleek and fitted Ivy style.
Some other details are:
- Colors: Brown, grey, blue, green blend tweeds, plaids, small checks and herringbone patterns. Solid colors were less common.
- Almost always made of wool and line din silk or rayon. Linen and cotton were summer options. Leather came into style in the later years.
- Worn flat on the head or off to one side.
- The 8 quarter panel was quite wide but narrowing. The one peice was slimmer hanging over the ears an inch or so.
- The Ivy or Broadway model reappeared in the late 1930s.
1930s Men’s Porkpie Hat
In the mid 1930s a new style for sporty casual hat was introduced as the Porkpie / Pork Pie. They were first seen ta race tracks and ball games. It was a little different than the 1940s porkpie:
- Colors: Black, browns, blue.
- Made of fur felt.
- Oval flat top with deep crease around the oval. College kids dented the crown
- Short crown.
- Wide, straight brim (slight curl a back). 1940s Porkpies had all curled brims.
- Thin leather band matching the color of the hat. Sometimes a feather.
- Worn at an angle.
1930s Sport Hat / Tyrolean
Another sporty hat, similar to the pork pie but more alike a very soft fedora was the Tyrolean hat. The crown had a center dent or knock about loose open crown with a deep pinch front. The top angled sharply from front to back. The brim was narrow with a sharp curve at the back and a snap down front. Most Tyrolean hats had a feather in the hat band on one side or at the back. The hat band itself had a great variety from the classic grosgrain to woven belts and thin leather.
- Colors: grey, brown, navy blue, medium blue, rust, and especially dark green.
- Wool felt was “brushed” to add a unique texture.
1930s Straw Boater or Skimmer Hat
The last hat to carry over from the 1920s was the straw boater. A nice summer time hat, this was the last decade of its popularity. Lighter straw hats, such as the toyo, entered the picture in the late 1930s, yet the straw boater remained a classic well into the 1950s.
- Made of hard woven straw.
- Shallow crown and flat top.
- Very wide striped silk band with flat double bow in sport team colors. Sometimes, the band was pleated horizontally.
- Wide brim (Skimmer had a slightly narrower brim).
- Worn for summer and sporting events.
- Worn straight or tilted to the side.
The original light straw hat was the Optimo Panama. It featured a rolled crease along the crown with a snap brim shaped like a fedora or round brim Panama. They were imported from Ecuador, not Panama, and were more expensive and fragile than the heavy straw boater.
Many other hat shapes were woven in Toyo straw for warm weather months. These were modeled after the snap brim fedora and later the pork pie. Hat bands remained plain until the mid 30s when colorful stripes and patterns gave the summer had new personality. Striped hat bands often were in gentlemen’s “Club” colors.
The “Playboy” style of hat was sold in wool felt or straw. Like the Tyrolean it was a sporty style with snap brim but only a slightly angled top.
More Men’s 30s Hats
The above is not a complete list of men’s hats, only the most common. Some other styles were western hats like the Campaigner, Dakota, and Carlsbad. There were hats for work such as the shop cap, utility hat and cadet cap (police hat). There were also hats for sport, such as the safari hunters’ Trooper or Pith helmet. In rainy weather there were waterproof rain hats, and in winter there were fur lined hats with ear flaps.
Read about 1930s Men’s Workwear, Everyday Clothing
Buying 1930s Style Hats
Lucky for us, most of these styles of hats can be purchased today. Granted, many don’t have all of the details vintage 1930s hats do, but the overall shape and colors are present. One minor difference is that you won’t find Petersham ribbon on modern hats. Instead, you will always see grosgrain ribbon used. Don’t know the difference? Read here. The overall look is the same, but it is the one little detail I miss the most.
You can find my handpicked selection of the best 1930s inspired hats for men.
Debbie Sessions has been teaching fashion history and helping people dress for vintage themed events since 2009. She has turned a hobby into VintageDancer.com with hundreds of well researched articles and hand picked links to vintage inspired clothing online. She aims to make dressing accurately (or not) an affordable option for all. Oh, and she dances too.