A Fedora is traditionally made of felt, wool, or straw with a wide brim and indented crown. It is typically creased lengthwise down the crown and pinched near the front on both sides. Fedoras can also be creased with teardrop crowns, diamond crowns, center dents, or others, and the positioning of the pinches may vary. The typical crown height is 4-5 ” tall. The brim is usually 1-2 1/2″ wide, and can be left raw-edged (left as cut), finished with a sewn over-welt or under-welt, or bound with a trimmed ribbon. Stitched edge means that there is one, two or more rows of stitching radiating inward toward the crown. The “Cavanagh Edge” is a welted edge with invisible stitching to hold it in place and is a very expensive treatment that can no longer be performed by modern hat factories.
The term Fedora was in use as early as 1891. It’s popularity soared, and eventually it eclipsed in to the similar looking Homburg.
Fedoras can be made of wool, cashmere, rabbit fur, or beaver felt. These felts can also be blended to each other with mink or chinchilla. They are also made of straw, cotton, waxed or oiled hemp, linen, faux leather, and genuine leather.
The brim on the Fedora may be as narrow as 1″ wide or as wide as 2 1/2″. Small brim hats with the brim flipped down in the front and up in the back are named Trilbys.
A special variation is the rollable, foldaway or crushable Fedora (not the same) with a certain or open crown. Open crown Fedoras can be bashed and shaped in to many variations. Special Fedoras have a ventilated crown, to allow air to circulate, with grommets, mesh-inlets or with penetrations.
Normally a Fedora has a hatband around the base of the crown, made from silk, cotton ribbon, or leather, and may have small (removable) feathers as decoration. Fedoras can also be lined or unlined, and have a cloth sweatband on the inside rim. Although rare, Fedoras can be equipped with a chinstrap.
The word Fedora comes from the title of an 1882 play by dramatist Victorien Sardou. The play was first performed in the United States in 1889. After Edward, Prince of Wales started wearing a Fedora in 1924, the hat became popular among men for its stylishness and ability to protect the head from wind and inclement weather.
Fedoras have become widely associated with gangsters and prohibition, which coincided with the height of the hat’s popularity in the 1920’s to the early 1950’s. In the second half of the 1950’s, it fell out of favor in a shift towards more informal clothing. A more casual style followed, which included Greasers wearing them with leather jackets and jeans.
By the early 21st century, the Fedora became a symbol of hipsters. In this same period, it also became associated with bronies and nice guys.
Indiana Jones re-popularized the Fedora, along with Johnny Depp and the popular singer, Farell Williams, who are often known to wear a range of Fedoras. The “late” Michael Jackson frequently wore a Fedora in public appearances, concerts and video clips. Perhaps the most iconic of all, the American crooner, Frank Sinatra, made the Fedora a near staple of his style, particularly in the 1950’s and 1960’s. Today, the Fedora remains popular in the hat industry.