Hat fanatics, how well do you know your hats? Your knowledge may be tested when it comes to telling the difference between two of the most popular styles of hats on the market: the trilby and the fedora. While these hats look largely similar, they are differentiated by their shape and the best ways to be worn.

What is a Fedora?

You may know fedoras as a man’s hat that is known for its classiness and timelessness. Fedoras have a wide brim and are made of durable fabric, which makes it both a practical and stylish option for headgear.

History of the Fedora

According to The Idle Man, the fedora hat originated in 1891 after the stage play Fedora. In this play, the cross-dressing heroine Princess Fedora wore a hat with a center crease and wide brim. When Prince Edward of Britain started wearing them in 1924, the hat’s popularity among men took off.

What Is a Trilby Hat?

While the trilby hat does look very similar to the fedora, it is often worn by younger men seeking a hip, more modernized look. A trilby is worn off the face for a modern, fashionable style. A trilby features a short brim that is angled down at the front and turned up slightly at the back. It is a more casual look.

History of the Trilby

According to The Idle Man, the trilby hat’s name also comes from a play and is sometimes called the “brown hat” in the United Kingdom. This hat style was worn during the stage adaptation of George du Maurier’s 1894 novel Trilby, performed in London.

Trilby vs. Fedora

Fedora hats generally have a wide brim of about 2 inches, mainly for functionality. This acts as a sunshade for the eyes and offers better protection from the elements. Fedoras also are best worn pulled slightly over the eyes for this reason. Fedoras also tend to have a shallow crown and are made from long-lasting, durable materials such as 100% cotton or felt.

Overall, the trilby has a much smaller brim than a fedora. It also has a taller crown and is worn frequently toward the back of the head. Its purpose is more for the style than general functionality, as it doesn’t shade the eyes. Additionally, trilby hats are usually made from tweed or straw.

Here is a quick guide to help you tell
the difference between a fedora and a trilby hat:

Fedoras

  • A relatively wide brim that is
    movable also called a “snap brim”
  • Shallow, indented crown with a
    pronounced pinch in the front
  • Worn covering the eyes
  • Typically made out of materials
    such as felt and cotton
  • High-quality material or
    construction
  • More formal and sleek

Trilby

  • Narrower brim than that of a
    fedora hat
  • The brim is fixed at a downward
    angle
  • Tall crown with a much less
    pronounced pinch
  • Generally worn at the back of the
    head off the face
  • Made from material such as tweed,
    straw, cotton, raffia or rabbit felt
  • More casual and versatile

How to Wear a Fedora

When wearing a fedora, it’s important to know that it’s meant for both style and practicality. They do look best when worn with smart, sleek, or business-like outfits and are an excellent accessory for semiformal and even formal events and occasions. Pair your fedora with a suit or nice pants with a fitted shirt and blazer or coat.

In general, the fedora is a much more formal hat than the trilby. However, Hats in the Belfry writes, “like the oxford shoe in modern streetwear, it may be dressed up or dress down gracefully.”

How to Wear a Trilby

The trilby style can be a bit more of a youthful, casual, and fun accessory, which makes it extremely versatile. As the hat is popular with younger men and “hipsters,” wear your trilby with modern designs and styles. You can wear a trilby with a smart casual or semiformal look by pairing it with slim pants, a fitted shirt, and other modern accessories.

The Trend Spotter suggests choosing a straw style in a light cream, white, or beige color if you’re wearing your trilby in summer, whereas a felt design may be a better choice if you plan to wear a trilby in winter.

Taking Care of Your
Hats

Whether you decide to wear a trilby hat or a fedora, it’s important to know how to take care of your hat so that it lasts you for years to come. The Idle Man offers many great tips for cleaning, storing, and caring for your hat long term, including the following.

Storing Your Hat

The best way to store a hat is to keep it hung up on a hat rack or a special hat peg. However, this is not a good long-term storage method because the hook or peg can leave an indent in your hat. Gravity pulling down on your hat can also change its shape. Instead, always lay your hat down on its crown to prevent the brim and shape from being damaged or shifted.

Cleaning Your Hat

As with any other piece of clothing or accessory item, hats also are exposed to the elements and day-to-day life. Keep it in tip-top shape by cleaning it whenever necessary.

  • Dust: Use a slightly damp cloth to gently remove the dust.
  • Hair and Fuzz: Sticky tape works well here, just as it does to remove pet hair from your clothing. Wrap some tape around your fingers with the sticky side out, and lightly sweep it across your hat to catch hair and fuzz.
  • Stains and Smudges: Use a makeup sponge or even a standard pencil eraser to rub away smudges. You can also purchase special hat sponges to accomplish this. For stubborn stains, invest in a special hat-cleaning spray or powder.
  • Dirt: Use horsehair or soft shoeshine brush to gently smooth off any loose bits of dirt that may be lying around. Do not use a nylon brush. The Idle Man suggests using small, counterclockwise motions for best results. Use a brush with light-colored bristles for light-colored hats, or a brush with darker bristles for hats of a darker color to ensure that stray bristles aren’t left behind.

Takeaway

Even though the trilby and fedora share many similarities, they are two very different styles of hats with distinct features and uses. The fedora is perhaps the better option for a more sophisticated, clean look. However, if you are going for a more youthful, casual style, a trilby hat is probably a smarter choice.