The Fedora Hat A Surprising history


A Little Known History

Is the Fedora American?

Few people know the history of the fedora hat. Many assume its origins come from early 20th century America as every notable man in film and television between the 20's and 50's was seen wearing some version of it. Gangsters, movie stars, and entertainers all wore them. Even the insurance salesman wore one. But the fedora existed long before the height of its popularity when everyone from Al Capone to Frank Sinatra donned one.

Origins Traced to Austria

The fedora has been traced to Tyrol, Austria. In this mountainous region, the hat was worn as a traditional accessory. Different fashionable styles developed in Tyrol in the early 1830's, as exemplified by this oil painting titled "Boy with Tyrolean hat and monkey," 1830.

Sarah Bernhardt in Fédora

A Hat for Men? Think Again...

What's surprising about the fedora's history is that it was not only made popular by a woman, it was named after one.

The Fedora Began On Stage.

The story begins with French dramatist Victorien Sardou. In 1882, Sardou wrote the play, Fédora for "the most famous actress the world has ever known," Sarah Bernhardt. In the play, Bernhardt plays Princess Fédora Romanoff. The princess wore a soft felt hat that, you guessed it, became known as the fedora.

French dramatist Victorien Sardou

Women's Rights, Royalty, and Orthodox Jews.

A fashionable woman's fedora in early 1900's, Edward, Prince of Wales, and a Hasidic Jew

Women's Rights

The fedora gained great popularity among women in France and the trend spread like wildfire. Its popularity only grew after the play was then turned into an opera. In 1889, the play came to the United States and out of it grew the American fascination with the fedora. Sarah Bernhardt became popular for her tendency to crossdress during her shows. The women's rights movement soon adopted the fedora as a symbol.

Edward, Prince of Whales

Prince Edward VIII visited Tyrol, Austria frequently and was often seen wearing the Tyrollean hat. A popular figure in the early 20th century, he helped to spread the popularity of the hat that become known as the fedora. It wasn't until around 1924 that men took his lead and began wearing the hat.

Orthodox Jews Adopt the Fedora

​Jews believe that one should have a special head covering when reciting the liturgical prayers. This custom has led to the adoption of many styles of hats by Orthodox groups within Judaism. Pre-war Lithuanian Jews wore grey suits with grey fedora hats. Lubavitchers, such as the late Rebbe Menachem Mendel Schneerson, wear a back fedora with triangular pinched crown.

Rebbe Menachem Mendel Schneerson



Created with images by nico7martin - "Frank Sinatra"

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