That’s Not A Fedora (And Stop Wearing It)


The trilby has become the cheesy default hat for too many men, and it’s a mistake.

There’s a meme going around some circles that guys who wear fedoras are jerks. This tends to be accompanied by photos of guys who are not wearing fedoras. Instead, they have fallen prey to a devastatingly common trend in retro-fashion: the trilby.

I’ve seen shops that carry nothing but a hundred variations on this unfortunate hat. Guys retain vague memories of seeing old photos of Frank Sinatra wearing something similar, and assume that its powers will translate to them. They will blithely call it a fedora, unaware of the haberdasher’s blasphemy they are committing.

FedoraVsTrilbyThe structures of the two hats are similar, but the trilby has a sharper crown and, most importantly, a much narrower brim. This distinction may seem minor, but we are discussing aesthetics here, and a minor distinction makes all the difference in the world.

Trilbies, using less material and being more forgiving of poor fabric, are cheap to make and thus have become widely available. So on one level, a guy in a cheap trilby is saying “I wanted a hat so I just grabbed the first one I saw and considered that sufficient.” Worse, though, the simple fact is that trilbies look like crap on most men. They’re unflattering and unattractive.

The key to choosing a hat, for men, is simply this: a man’s hatbrim should be in proportion to his shoulders. Sinatra could pull off a trilby because, back in the day, he was a skinny little guy with a narrow, vertical-line aesthetic. Most men, however, have broader shoulders, and thus should wear a wider brim. A trilby on a big man looks like the reservoir tip on a condom.

If you’re a man who wants to wear a hat, I applaud you! They’re a great look, and there’s a hat out there for you. However, it is probably not on the hat cart at the mall. Unless you are a very slim little fellow, the trilby is probably not your look. Fear not, though: many good alternatives are available.

DerbyHatFor the gent who wants to maintain a lean line, but wants a jaunty bit of class and a certain lighthearted style, the derby is an excellent choice. It’s fun, it can be formal or casual, and it’s not a goddamned trilby.

Screen Shot 2013-10-29 at 8.23.20 AMFor those who really want a fedora, there’s always actually wearing a fedora. This is a great mid-sized brim for the gentleman with mid-sized shoulders, but a decent hat shop will have a variety of brim widths to best match your build.

PorkpieAnother great mid-size brim option is the porkpie, which you may recognize as the distinctive style of hat Walter White wore in Breaking Bad. This is a great casual hat with a certain flair to it.

HomburgFor slightly broader shoulders and a great classic look, consider the homburg. You may remember Al Pacino rocking this hat in The Godfather, or Humphrey Bogart wearing one in Sabrina. It’s a hat with dignity and distinction.

GamblerBroad-shouldered men should also consider the slightly Western flair of the gambler style, a broad brim that provides a distinctive and noticeable silhouette. It’s a confident hat, one that stands out.

These are far from the only options, of course; there are many, many different ways you can go if you decide to wear a hat. All I ask is that if you decide to wear a hat, you wear a hat. Don’t go halfway, don’t nervously grab the first thing you find and hope you can pull it off. Find something that works on you and then work it.

And for god’s sake stop calling trilbies fedoras. They have different names for a reason.

Top Photo—Luke Hayfield Photography/Flickr

All other images from Wikimedia Commons


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About Noah Brand

Noah Brand is an Editor-at-Large at Good Men Project, and possibly also a cartoon character from the 1930s. His life, when it is written, will read better than it lived. He is usually found in Portland, Oregon, directly underneath a very nice hat.


  1. Stephanie says:

    I am sad to see so many people hacking on what hat a man wears and the name he calls it. The Good Men Project is about lifting each other up not tearing each other down. For the love of all that is RIGHT about a man let him wear whatever hat he feels good in. No one should feel they have the right to impose their head wear preference on another person. Let’s get back to building each other up ok kids.

    • Lifting someon up doesn’t always mean giving them compliments and motivation speeches. At also involves constructive criticism and tough love. Frankly, things like this, as trivial as it seems, is something one would traditionally learn from your male role models and support circles growing up as a boy.

      • hat lover says:

        Except that it’s wrong advice. A trilby looks good on me, for example, as well as many other people.

        This isn’t tough love, it’s baseless judgement.

        • Anonymous says:

          He does say that the trilby isn’t the hat for most men, but some can pull it off. He said it worked for Sinatra right? Defensive reading leads pointless posts criticizing writers for things they didn’t say.

          • I don’t think hat lover was making a pointless criticism, perhaps just a bit vague. He asserts that “many” other people look good in trilbies, while the article suggests much fewer than that do. The writer may not be explicit on this point, but the inference is justifiable.

            Plus, I think there’s a broader implicit point in hat lover’s reply, which echoes what many here are saying. While I do whole-heartedly agree with the point about calling a thing what it is (otherwise, what is the point of names), I do think it’s a bit cheeky and overboard to insist on an apparel view and choice this innocuous. Especially for a choice this far down on the offensiveness scale, let people wear what they want.

            If I have to put up with “irregardless” being considered a word, the writer, and those like him, can suck it up for people wearing trilbies that “shouldn’t”.

      • Janna: Lifting someon up doesn’t always mean giving them compliments and motivation speeches. At also involves constructive criticism and tough love. Frankly, things like this, as trivial as it seems, is something one would traditionally learn from your male role models and support circles growing up as a boy.

        So how do you feel about telling fat women to stick to one piece bathing suits? Do the same thoughts apply, for the same reasons? Or is different because we’re talking about women rather than men?

        • I am not Janna, but I am a woman, albeit a slender one, and I will be the first to say that there are many women who should not be seen in public in bikinis. There are also many women who would benefit from a good look in a full-length mirror — preferably from behind too — to ensure that their outfit is not too tight, and covers everything that needs to be covered.

          We have become a society that is so afraid of “hurting” feelings, stepping on toes, etc. that we just let everything slide, and orientate ourselves to the lowest common denominator. It’s dishonest, because we still judge and laugh behind those unfortunate souls’ backs, but nobody takes it upon her- or himself to help the person. Most people simply don’t know any better. The “cultural revolution” of the 1960s, you can probably tell that I loath the concept, created deep fissures in the transmission of traditional style. Before, notions of how to dress were passed from mother to daughter and father to son, but how can you pass anything on if you have no clue yourself? That’s very much like an illiterate person trying to teach a child to read!

          The simple answer is that, no, the sex of the person makes no difference.

    • amandawicked says:

      This is clearly a mens fashion article. If you dont want to read something that criticizes fashion, then dont read a fashion article. There was no hate speach or putting anyone down for things they cant help. The world is allowed to think your hat looks stupid, and if youre one of the million douchebags that wear these shopping mall “fedoras” I think you look stupid. You think you look good, but the people you are trying to impress think you look stupid. Sure, some people dress for themselves, but most dont, and we all know it. The trilby isnt cute, and if youre offended, its because you mistakingly thought you looked good in one, and youre mad that you dont. Oh well. Stop reading fashion articles if you dont want to be told you have no fashion sense.

  2. bblackmoor says:

    On the one hand, calling something the wrong name bugs me (I am looking at you, Van Dyke that gets called a goatee). On the other hand, I don’t understand the hate for trilby hats. Let people wear whatever they want.

  3. I’m a bit surprised and a little saddened that GMP is hosting this article. I’ve appreciated GMP as a place where judgment pushed to the wayside to allow people to create their own identity. It’s a place where we can embrace who we want to be instead of what society says we should be.

    Despite this, here is an article telling me how I should be, that I should wear certain clothes to get approval, instead of expressing myself however I wish. GMP, you do a good job at what you do, don’t allow judgmental writers take that away.

  4. Anonymous says:

    This sounds like a personal opinion piece about fashion disliked by one person.. Mr. Brand, you get the cookie for knowing the difference between a fedora and a trilby. I’m a female and have a trilby. They usually seem to be sold during summer months. And I wear my to the beach. Having said that, I’ve seen MEN in them and they don’t look horrible. Ibut if I did see a man out in a real fedora I would probably think he had a screw loose or was dressed up for a holloween party or over the age of….I don’t know,,too old to date. I don’t like jeans with bedazzled ass cheeks, but a lot of girls wear them and it doesn’t keep me up at night. An article about the difference in the two would have been enough. Uh, and no one should stop wearing them, especially because you said they should.

  5. MrPotatoHead says:

    Women get bullied continually by the fashion police in this country.

    We don’t need nor want that for men.

    Imma wear what I want.


  6. Bugger off, I like them.

  7. hat lover says:

    Seriously, GMP? You’re better than this. This is fashion shaming, pure and simple. *You* should be ashamed for posting this drivel.

  8. Allan S K Prasad says:

    I have just started wearing a hat after year of wearing a woollen hat with suit and tie with overcoat. This started during the cold spells in winter. But I now know that it does not go with my work clothes. I tried a hatfrom a Charity shop and liked it. It was a fedora and since then I have bought 2 others. I love the time when men wore suita with ties and long overcoats. Done some research on the internet and now hooked on style and Fedoras. Hankering to watch Bogart in Casablanca to learn. Yours is a good article and thank you for sharing your knowledge on hats to give us an informed option on good taste.. And yes I do not like trillbies. They seem to be worn by comedians.

    • Looks like somebody did not read the article…

      • Anonymous says:

        This. All those guys are slim little dudes. Also, they are trendsetters and can wear whatever they want. The author clearly states the trilby can be worn by many people. But as the default “wannabe” hat that people buy, I think it is safe to assume those people are douches, at which point the trilby is to be referred to as a “douche hat”. There’s a difference. It’s all in the wearer. Federline. The name still resonates…

  9. Mike Bromley says:

    Well, bubba, I’m a big guy with broad shoulders, and I wear this silly hat. It looks really stupid on me but ya wanna know what? Who Cares???? I like my hat. It’s comfy. And my gal likes it. And you can take your snooty fashion sense and put it where the sun doesn’t shine. I dare you to walk up to some guy and tell him he looks like a condom. I suspect you’ll come off like a bug on a windshield.

  10. Anonymous says:

    The Trilby was originally for women.

    • Anonymous says:

      Actually is wasn’t. The trilby came around in England the 1890s. It made it to America and was popular among men through the 60s when it faded off. The fashion industry tried to bring it back by marketing it to women. So in short – this IS a man’s hat and the author of this article needs to find a life.

  11. Richard says:

    To many people need a real job to stop wasting there time following this and need to stop reading these kind of useless blog/websites offering poor/negative advice.
    Be a man and wear what makes you feel comfortable – its called choice.

  12. Anonymous says:

    their fucking hats! big freaking deal!

  13. Someone says:

    I thought the trilby was a WOMAN’S hat…

  14. As someone who gets their fedoras custom made (Peters Brothers Hats in Ft Worth, TX) I hate those damn Trilby hats. While they are technically in the fedora family, I refuse to refer to them as such.

    Also, for those who care about obscure hat trivia, both of these hats are named from characters in a play. Trilby was a male character but Fedora was a female.

    The more you know (Insert shooting star and piano music here)

  15. brian wolle says:

    How can you criticize a free article like this? I’ve been wearing hats for decades and learned something here. Get a life folks. Move on if you’re bored. Constructive criticism always welcome. Too many have no fashion sense.

  16. Wear what you like. Who gives a shit?

  17. I appreciate the article. It’s helpful and informative.

    But we don’t need more fedora shaming. While I feel like many women take offense to the fedora-wearers, even creating a cultural stereotype out of them, no group of people should be reduced to an article of head attire. Beyond that, it seems the men actually came first to the fedora shaming, and those people used it as an excuse to mock people who they didn’t accept. You see numerous posts mocking socially awkward and conventionally unattractive guys, and I’m frankly sick of it, because they’re not using it to criticize fashion choices. They’re using what’s on their heads to mock the person under the hat, essentially saying, “You can’t be cool. You don’t look the part.”

    I got compliments on my trilbies, when I wore them. I don’t anymore. There’s too much stigma. To anybody trying to take it back, I say kudos. The hat shaming needs to end, because it’s more than hat shaming- it’s people shaming and pointless, callous bullying. I appreciate the article, and I’ll use it to make informed fashion choices, but the aim of the article- to aim trilby-wearing- does not please me one bit. We should be combating the larger problem at work here, and learning to accept people when others have difficulty doing so.

  18. Want more specific info about hats? Here is a link that will give you a bunch of info:

  19. So what is the exact brim to shoulder rule?

  20. Gentlesir Niceguy says:

    *Tips trilby

  21. I love fedoras on guys and I’m a woman. With the right clothes they make you look pretty sharp. Those Trillbys on the other hand…I just think hipster.

  22. Nothing at all wrong with a Trilby.

  23. wellokaythen says:

    I don’t care so much. However:

    No matter what hat you wear, please please PLEASE don’t do what a lot of young men do and use a hat as a substitute for showering. A hat is not a magical grease remover. It is not an effective alternative for shampoo.

  24. Thanks god http:/// add categories Fedora | Trilby etc.. :D

  25. Thanks for the clarity Noah.
    I’m sure I’ve heard that a trilby also goes by the name “crumpled/crushed fedora”. Is that true? If so, I wonder if this is where some of the confusion had come from?

  26. David Weldon says:

    Both of the hats show appear to be fedoras. No trilby is shown. Fedoras have a snap brim and trilbys never have a snap brim. Also trilbys were not known for having c crowns (the most classic fedoras usually did) and the ‘trilby’ shown here has a c crown. This post reminds me of clothiers who started selling pant instead of pairs of pants. A pant is the amount of material used to make one plant leg from waist band to cuff. The store keepers didn’t know.

  27. David Weldon says:
  28. lastlife0726 says:

    The only man I’ve ever seen pull of a trilby is Lewis Lovhaug,

  29. Well I have to say that I thought this article was extremely informative, and I like that the author had a firm stance on his viewpoint, but didnt overstate it. He is right on all points. People have just adopted the Trilby as a quick 20 buck hunk of junk mall stand hat and you see them fricking everywhere, and he is also right that they look really great on some people and absolutely ridiculous on a great many others. The more important points though, are calling it for what it is, a Trilby, not a Fedora, they are very very different. Also most of the people who are buying these mall stand hats arent doing it because they actually have a sense of personal style that this fits into and have actually considered the options, maybe done a little research and then made a purchase. They have just seen it as the latest fad and decided to go all sheeple and buy what they have seen everyone else wearing. Not even knowing that there is a huge difference between a quality Trilbey and the made in china for a penny on the dollar just they sell in gas stations. I like people who think for themselves. If you are one of those people who thinks for themselves, and you have tried on Trilbeys, found them to fit in with your particular personal style, and then make an educated decision to get one somewhere, then more power to you, but if you are one of the sheep, just buying one at random because you have seen them everywhere, then yeah, I can see how this article would hurt ones feelings. The weak willed are often defensive of their actions because they do not truly know why they make them.


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