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.
- Tall crown.
- Made of fur felt.
- Featured a deep crease down the center top of the hat that angled toward the back of the head.
- Front pinch or crown sides were indented.
- The narrow brim was turned up all the way around or on the sides only.
- 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 gangsters preferred was the Homburg. A slightly more formal hat than the fedora, its popularity was revived by The Godfather movie, resulting in it being nicknamed “The Godfather Hat.” 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 grey, followed by black.
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.
- 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.
1930s Ivy Caps
Another carryover from decades past is the casual cap, called an Ivy or driving cap today. The 1920s style newsboy cap with an 8/4 panel design was still worn in the 1930s, but eventually gave way to a more sleek and fitted Ivy style. Some other details are:
- Colors: Brown and green tweeds, plaids, and herringbone patterns. Solid colors were less common.
- Almost always made of wool, even in summer.
- Worn flat on the head or off to one side.
- Flat Ivy style with a triangle shape from ear to the base of the head.
- Modern Ivy caps don’t have the triangle shape (pictured right).
- Another style had a peaked cap design that tilted to one side.
1930s Mens Porkpie Hat?
I put a question mark after Porkpie hat because the 1930s style hat was similar to the 1940s Porkpiem, but not called by any specific name. It was a little different:
- Colors: Black, browns.
- Made of fur felt.
- Oval flat top with deep crease around the oval.
- Short crown.
- Wide, straight brim. 1940s Porkpies had curled brims.
- Thin leather band matching the color of the hat.
- Worn at an angle.
1930s Walking Hat
Another nameless style hat of the 1930s is often called a walking hat, walker hat, tweed hat, sport hat, or bucket hat today. It was a colorful, casual, sporty style that also had a cousin made for men’s work uniforms. This style of hat came back in the 1960s, making little distinction between the two decades. These hats had:
- Tweed herringbone plaid, and check patterns.
- Turned down wide brim (’60s hat had a slightly narrower brim).
- Unstructured crown, rounded, usually no creasing.
- Thin self-fabric band and flat bow.
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.
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.
Buying 1930s Inspired 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 here. Or read about other men’s 1930s fashions, 1920s men’s hats, and 1940’s men’s hats.