Beanie, flat cap, beret, fedora, trilby, deerstalker… the list goes on. Whether it’s worn for protection against the elements, for religious reasons, safety or simply as a fashion accessory, its fair to say that the hat is one of the most enduring items of clothing.

Originally worn by the primitive man as protection from weather, falling rocks and weapons, the most common material used in hat making was felt. Discovered by the nomadic tribes of Asia, this durable material made from sheep’s wool was commonly used for making tents and clothing.

Both men and women sported different forms of headdress and in the late 14th-15th centuries hats started to be worn. During Egyptian, Roman and Greek times, the hat came to represent wealth, status and authority and it wasn’t until the 18th century that hats became considered as a fashion accessory.

As popularity soared, an increasingly diverse range of materials were used to make hats – silk, leather, taffeta and beaver skin were all favoured.

Men considered the hat to be an essential symbolic statement, wearing the formal stiff top hat to represent authority and aristocracy and the more informal soft trilby felt hat which symbolised democracy, was more often associated with artists, intellectuals and country life.

Women often covered their heads with veils, scarves and handkerchiefs, as hats were not officially created for women until the end of the 1500s. By the end of the 16th century, designers had begun creating styles with women in mind, rather than basing women's hats on popular styles for men.

Today, hats are not as popular as they have previously been – instead worn just for a special occasion such as a wedding or as casual statement attire in the way that caps might be worn the wrong way around. Functional hats are also still used for protection against the weather and for those that cannot bear a hat unwittingly can adopt one built into a garment, such as with a hooded jumper.

Its safe to say that the style, function and aesthetic of the hat has certainly developed over time and with a wider range available than ever before, there is sure to be one to suit your fashion needs.


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