Did you know that people used to work as milliners or hatters in the 1800s? That’s right – it was possible to make a living out of fixing and selling hats! Men often wore them as they commuted to and from work, so these trades were key when it came to looking sharp!

While milliners and hatters aren’t as common today, people are still rocking all kinds of hats. This guide breaks down all of the styles you have to choose from!

What Are the Different Types of Hats?

When you hear the word “hat,” you might immediately think about a baseball cap. Or maybe your mind goes right to a jaunty top hat. Amazingly, there are over 100 different types of hat that exist in the universe!

You can choose from the following styles:

Baseball Caps

The baseball cap became popular in the 1860s when it was worn by the Brooklyn Excelsiors. This team went on to become the Dodgers, and we went on to wear these hats all the time – even when we’re not catching flyballs!

Snapbacks

New Era Cap in New York changed the game with snapbacks. These structured hats became synonymous with hip hop in the early 90s, and they’ve been a favorite among millennials and Gen Z’ers ever since.

Dad Hats

Your old man can be embarrassing sometimes, but you have to admit, he looks pretty cool in his dad hat! This style, which became popular in the 90s, has a flat brim and a slouchy, unfitted look. It pairs especially well with dad sneakers, aka, white gym shoes!

Trucker Hats

Unless you lived under a rock in the 2000s, you know all about the trucker hat craze. These were baseball caps with mesh backs that were worn by celebrities like Ashton Kutcher, Britney Spears, and Justin Timberlake. Trucker hats aren’t as trendy now, but who knows? Maybe in a few years they’ll make a comeback!

Visors

Tennis stars, golfers, and volleyball players love wearing visors. In fact, these hats were originally designed for use in outdoor sports. Spalding, which opened in 1976 in Chicago, is one of the top manufacturers of visors in the United States.

Beanies

Have you ever wondered how beanies got their name? The story goes that in the early 20th century “bean” was slang for “head!” Whether your beanie is cuffed, slouchy, or has a pom pom on the top, these hats are a must for chilly weather.

Aviator/Trapper Hats

If you want a hat that’s tough and rugged, look no further than the trapper! This style was worn by frontiersmen and mountain climbers as they hiked terrains like the Appalachians. In World War I, pilots also wore aviator hats as protection against biting winds.

Top Hats

Upper class men wore top hats in the 18th century. These gents, who were called “dandies,” put on their top hats to go along with their white ties and frock coats. Now anyone and everyone can wear a top hat, though they’re really only worn as part of costumes or for very fancy occasions.

Fedoras

Men and women love fedoras, but few people know that these hats were inspired by a French play named “Fédora.” In the production, a princess of the same name wore a stylish, soft-brimmed hat. She became iconic for this look, and women all over France had to have a fedora of their own!

Trilby Hats

You need a keen eye not to confuse a trilby with a fedora. The main difference isn’t in the look, but in how the hats are worn. Trilby hats have a shorter brim, which is tilted down in the front. Fedoras, on the other hand, have a wider brim and are meant to be worn at a more level angle.

Pork Pies

No, a pork pie isn’t what you’re having for dinner! It’s actually a type of hat that was named after a famous pastry in the United Kingdom. This style is close to a fedora, only with a rounded crown instead of an indented one. It’s recently become iconic thanks to a starring role on Walter White’s head on the show, “Breaking Bad.”

Homburgs

This type of hat has an indented crown and was popularized by 1920s gangsters. It belongs in the fedora family and is often associated with luxury. In fact, a homburg was first worn by a king in Britain! Dwight D. Eisenhower and Winston Churchill were also fans of homburg hats.

Berets

During the Renaissance, berets were strictly worn by peasants and those in poor social classes. The cap has since grown out of these humble beginnings and is now popular with fashionistas, revolutionaries, and the military.

Cloche Hats

A milliner named Caroline Reboux invented this style of hat in 1908. She custom made each one special and named them “cloche” – the French word for “bell.” It’s a fitting name as these hats have a cute bell shape that fits snuggly on your head.

Newsboys/Flat Caps

It’s hard to imagine, but there was a time before the internet where you had to pick up a newspaper for the latest gossip. Newsboys handed these out on the streets, wearing puffy flat caps with a small visor on the front. Today, these hats are a major part of the fashion world.

Ascot Caps

Ascot caps have a hard, round shape on top. If you’re not a flashy person, these are great hats for you! They come in earthy or muted colors like beige, gray, brown, or black.

Bowler/Derby Hats

In 1849, bowler or derby hats were known as “cokes.” They were named after their creator, Edward Coke, who wanted a hat that would protect him from low-hanging branches on carriage rides. This stylish headwear went on to become famous thanks to silent film star Charlie Chaplin. They’re still worn by folks all over the world today!

Cowboy Hats

Giddy up and get yourself a cowboy hat! This style was inspired by the Old West where cattlemen made hats from beaver or rabbit fur. Luckily for the animals, we can use felt to make cowboy hats in the modern age.

Breton Hats

Police officers and army sergeants are just a couple professions who have been known to wear breton hats. These caps sit low on your head and are fitted on the front with a sun-shielding visor.

Army Hats

The military wears camouflage army hats (known as peaked or service caps) during basic training. This inspired fashion designers to create more casual versions of army hats, which come in a variety of colors and patterns.

Pillboxes

As hard as it is to imagine, there was a time in professional baseball where the players didn’t wear caps! It was instead all about pillboxes, which were hats with square-shaped crowns and visors. One of the most famous mentions of pillbox hats came from Bob Dylan who wrote a song called “Leopard-Skin Pillbox Hat” in 1966.

Boater Hats

For the history of the boater hat, we need to set sail to Venice, Italy in the late 1800s. Gondoliers wore these caps, which were adorned with a ribbon that blew in the breeze as they rowed. Before long, this headwear got out of the water and into barbershop quartets and school uniforms across Europe.

Panama Hats

A good number of hat styles were created in Europe, but the panama hat is a South American original. It comes from Ecuador and is designed to be lightweight and breathable. Humphrey Bogart is the most famous wearer of panama hats in the United States and went on to inspire his fans to wear one of their own.

Sun/Floppy Hats

It’s time for fun in the sun! Protect your face and get that beachy look with a sun hat. These hats are usually made from straw and have a floppy brim in the front. Women in Victorian paintings can be seen wearing this style, but it wasn’t until the 1950s that they became mainstream.

Boonie Hats

Outdoor hats worn for fishing, hiking, and safaris can be categorized as “boonies.” This style has an adjustable string, which keeps it tightly on your noggin. It was first used during the Vietnam War and was nicknamed a “Daisy Mae” after the comic strip character who wore a similar hat.

Novelty Hats

Whether you win one as a prize at a carnival or buy one to make your friends laugh, novelty hats come in all kinds of weird shapes. Some of the most famous include: helicopter hats, beer hats with straws for sipping, the cheese hats worn by Green Bay Packers fans, and the tall, striped Dr. Seuss hats.

Bucket Hats

Bucket hats are about as 90s as it gets, but they were actually invented in Ireland in the early 1900s. A wide variety of people love these loose-fitting hats, from break dancers to fishers. They’re comfy, quirky, and good way to shield your head from the rain if you don’t have an umbrella.

Deerstalkers

Do you need a Halloween costume? Grab a pipe, tweed jacket, and a deerstalker to be Sherlock Holmes! The fictional sleuth made these hats popular in 1887, but they were worn well before then by hunters in Scotland.

Fascinators

The guests at royal weddings wear all kinds of crazy headwear, better known as fascinators. These hats are basically abstract art worn on the head and are designed for fashion rather than function. They’re a favorite among women as they can wear one while still maintaining their fancy updos!

Sombreros

The word “sombrero” gets its name from “sombra,” which means “shade.” Ranchers in Mexico wore these hats as they worked outside on their farms to block the harsh rays from the sun. Now the sombrero is a big part of Mexican culture, and mariachi bands often wear decorative ones with embroidery and beading.

Chef Hats

In many restaurants, the chefs wear a white pleated hat while they cook. These are known as toques and were first worn in 19th century Europe. Back then, each pleat in the hat represented a recipe the chef had mastered. Today, they’re worn more out of tradition than anything else.

Hard Hats

Edward W. Bullard, an army lieutenant, saw firsthand how helmets could save lives during World War I. This inspired him to create safety hats for miners, construction workers, and shipyard workers. The rest is history and now hard hats, along with reflective safety vests, are a must on every hazardous job site.

Sailor Hats

The sailor hat is sometimes called a “pancake cap” or “dixie cup.” It’s blue or white, made from soft wool or canvas, and came to be just as symbolic of life on the open seas as anchor tattoos. Kids also became familiar with the hat thanks to the cartoon “Popeye,” which came out in 1929.

Santa Hats

Santa Claus is coming to town with a bag of gifts and a fancy velvet coat, leather belt, mittens, and a droopy fleece hat. This outfit was inspired by, surprisingly enough, Coca-Cola ads from the 1920s. In the commercials, a jolly fat man drank his soda while wearing the red suit we’ve come to know and love.

Witch Hats

It’s creepy, eerie, and pointy – the witch hat. It’s now a symbol of Halloween, so it’s fitting that it was possibly inspired by Chinese mummies who covered their hair with funnel-shaped pieces of black felt. The hat became even more famous when it was seen on the head of the Wicked Witch of the West in The Wizard of Oz.

Party Hats

You can’t have a birthday party without party hats! These paper hats are super cheap, but back in the day, they were high-end items. Egyptian pharaohs and medieval kings and queens all wore distinct, conical crowns. This set them apart as nobility and made it easier for their followers to identify them.

Graduation Hats

Congrats, grad! You’re on your way to better things, but first how about one more history lesson? Graduation caps, which are called mortarboards, have been worn since the 12th century. According to historians, scholars wore long gowns and caps to create unity during the end-of-the-year ceremony.

KFC released bucket hats in 2019 that are shaped like their iconic chicken buckets!

Source: wk.com/work/kfc-bucket-hat

What is the Most Popular Type of Hat?

While there are many hat styles, the most popular by far are baseball caps. Nearly everyone wears them, from athletes to musicians, which is why more than 40 million sell every single year.

Baseball caps are accessible, casual, and can be thrown on for both running errands and stylizing an outfit. Thanks to screen printing you can also find caps with a ton of cool designs and logos printed on the front.

What Are the Different Types of Baseball Caps?

Baseball caps come in all kinds of colors, sizes, and styles. Each hat will fall into one of the following categories:

  1. Fitted
  2. Dad hat (unfitted)
  3. Snapback
  4. Strapback

Fitted

Do you want to run, jump, and do backflips without worrying about your hat flying off? Try a fitted hat! They’re measured in different sizes and are tailor made to sit snuggly and firmly on your noggin.

Dad Hat

Your dad likes to keep things casual, which is why his hat is typically unfitted, well-worn, and super soft. It’s not uncommon to see these hats printed with a simple logo on the front.

Snapback

A snapback is a type of fitted hat with a couple of features that make it distinct. First, snapbacks have a wide, straight brim, while fitted hats usually have a curved visor. Second, a snapback is totally closed in the back, while a fitted hat may be open.

Strapback

If you want an all-American classic, you can’t go wrong with a strapback baseball cap. These hats have an adjustable strap on the back that is made from leather, plastic, or Velcro.

What Are the Best Hats to Wear When It’s Warm?

The sun is shining, and you’re roasting like a turkey! When the weather is warm, you should wear a lightweight hat that has a moisture-resistant sweatband.

The best hat styles to wear when it’s warm are:

  • Baseball caps
  • Visors
  • Sun/Floppy hats
  • Panama hats
  • Bucket hats
  • Boaters
  • Cowboy hats
  • Boonies

These styles are perfect for the summer as they shade your face and are breezy and comfortable. Try to avoid hats made from heavy materials since they can make you feel overheated and sweaty.

What Are the Best Hats to Wear When It’s Cold?

You want to be nice and bundled up during the chilly winter months. Look for hats that are made from a thick fabric, and ideally, cover your ears.

The best hat styles to wear when it’s cold are:

  • Beanies
  • Aviator/Trapper hats
  • Newsboys
  • Ascot caps
  • Deerstalkers
  • Berets
  • Cloche hats

If you want to make a fashion statement, the cold weather is also a great time to wear canvas hats like homburgs, bowler hats, and pork pies. All you need is a matching scarf and gloves, and you’re good to go!

Mark it on your calendar! National Hat Day is January 15th in the United States.

What Are the Different Parts of a Hat?

You can’t truly appreciate your hats unless you understand how they’re made. The anatomy of a hat can be broken down as follows:

Brim/Visor: The brim/visor is the piece on the front that extrudes outward. It helps to block the sun from your eyes and is typically found on many fashion hats as well as baseball caps.

Crown: The crown is the top part of the hat. It may seem crazy, but there are actually over 10 different crown types! This includes the cattleman style, which you see in cowboy hats, and the round crown, which is often used in bowler/derby hats.

Sweatband: The sweatband is often found in hats that are worn for fitness or sports. This would include baseball caps and visors. It’s also used in certain felt hats, depending on the manufacturer.

Inner Lining: The inner lining is the material that lines the inside of hats. In structured hats like ascots and top hats, this piece is referred to as the “buckram.”

Underbrim: The underbrim is, as the name suggests, the underside of the brim. The brim can either be structured, like it is in snapbacks, or unstructured like it is in “dad” hats.

Button: The button is the little piece that sits on top of baseball caps. It’s there simply to hide the area where the six panels of cloth are sewn together.

Eyelets: The eyelets are little holes that adorn cloth hats. They are there to provide ventilation and to keep your head cool.

What Are Hats Made Of?

The hats you love to wear are typically made from cotton, canvas, wool, or felt. However, there are other materials that can be used as well.

Here’s a full list of materials used to make hats:

  • Cotton
  • Canvas
  • Wool
  • Felt
  • Twill
  • Suede
  • Straw
  • Jute
  • Leather
  • Acrylic
  • Polyester
  • Polypropylene
  • Mesh
  • Nylon
  • Linen
  • Silk
  • Taffeta
  • Tulle
  • Velvet
  • Hard plastic
  • Foam
  • Rubber

It takes a different technique to clean these materials, so be sure to do your research! You always want to keep your hats in pristine condition.

How Do You Choose a Hat?

Bowlers, army caps, top hats… oh my! There are so many different styles, how can you possibly choose just one?

Keep these things in mind next time you shop for a hat:

Face shape

Your face is either an oval, square, circle, heart, or triangle. The hat’s crown should be a shape other than your face shape. For instance, if you have a round face, you should avoid round crowns.

Hairstyle

Let’s say you have thick, curly hair. You might have to look for stretchy or elastic hats. Someone with coarse hair, on the other hand, can get away with a more structured look.

Size

Take some time to measure your head with a tape measure before you go shop for a hat. That way you’ll know your circumference and be able to easily find the right size for you.

Color

Think about the type of clothes you wear most often, and choose a hat in a color that won’t clash. When in doubt, it’s never a bad idea to stick with neutrals like white, black, or gray.

Personal style

Fashionistas will likely experiment with different hat styles, while people who are more casual will probably stick with baseball caps or beanies. Only you know what you’re comfortable wearing!

Lifestyle

Are you in a softball league? Get a baseball cap. Do you go skiing every winter? Buy a trapper hat. Think about what you do and which hat style will get the most use.

Budget

Above all, know how much you want to spend before you hit the stores. If you have enough to splurge on that dream hat, go for it! Just make sure you’ll get your money’s worth by wearing it all the time.

The Bottom Line

Whether you throw on a dad cap, complete an outfit with a fedora, or snuggle up in a beanie, you can never have too many hats in your wardrobe. Variety is the spice of life, so have fun shopping and become the hat person you were always meant to be!

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About the author

Alyssa Mertes

Alyssa is a promo expert with over four years of experience in the industry. She is the Lead Copywriter at Quality Logo Products and has had work published for the Promotional Products Association International and the Advertising Specialty Institute.