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

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. I’ve been wearing a trilby for a couple years – didn’t know it but I have been. Target $12.99. I literally stopped traffic in Boston one day. A guy brakes in the middle of the road and yells at me “Hey you!…Awesome hat!” Coworkers love my hat. My kids love my hat. My point is, who decided that a trilby is for douche bags? My guess is someone who got laughed at for not being able to pull off the look. I feel good when I wear it and will continue to wear it despite this article.

    • My point is, who decided that a trilby is for douche bags?
      I’d wager it was someone who got their feelings hurt by a person wearing a trilby. After being hurt they needed something, anything, to strike back at.

      Most people that wear those hats probably wouldn’t bother a soul but unfortunately its becomes a symbol of hate, a symbol built by people who supposedly are against hate….

      • It was the preferred hat of the somewhat creepy, fairly poorly socialized conventoon geek, to be worn with an oversized button down shirt showing a comic book character surrounded by flames, and cargo shorts. These guys traditionally don’t smell fantastic, make abrupt, innappropriate comments at cosplay girls and..again..are generally creepy. I think that’s where most of the backlash comes from.

        • dapper says:

          Actually the trilby is the hat of the rich, horse race going men in the UK. At least that is what it’s suppose to be associated with.

    • I say this because I want to help you and becase this post is recent.

      The hat you wear everyday is ridiculous… no one likes it, it’s a greasey horrible item.

      Everyone will compliement you, just Like I compliement fedora wearing cringe worthy guys thinking about how socially unaware they are.

      First of all, this is not an attack. If you’re stylish 30 year old super confident, you can rock wahtever hat you are.

      If you use the hat, however, as a fashion accessory with every outfit you go out with, then that’s cringeworthy, and no one will tell you but an anonymous person.

      Step 1: Research open mindedly about the reputation and stereotype of the fedora

      Step 2: Acknowledge that you can only wear it if you’re super confident and cna pull it off ( no one really can, unless you’re working on the Mad Men set)

      Don’t get buthurt, I took the time to tell you this because some people use it for years and don’t understand that poepl elook at them because they look ridicukous, not because they’re those cool fedora wearing guys who just walked into the school library/supermarket/coffe shop.
      I don’t hate you, so don’t use that to rationalize.

      I would NEVER wear a fedora, not even as a 5min prank/bet

      • Jamie Parsons says:

        Did you even read the article? It’s NOT a fedora, it’s a trilby. For Christ’s sake.

      • Dell Conagher says:

        So basically, you can only wear a f̶e̶d̶o̶r̶a̶ trilby if you’re “cool”, but you still call it a “greasey horrible item”? AND you still say to be open-minded about the hat. How do you not see the inherent double standard in this?

        Also, it’s a bloody HAT. Get over it.

        • You annoying nitwits, I can wear whatever hat I want. I do not dress to solely impress women, if this was vice versa something woman wore rather commonly (with a main reason being men not finding them attractive when they dress that way) it would be labeled completely sexist. In Williamsburg I know it is completely in-style and fashionable, and if it wasn’t I really do like it, so their OPINIONS of my physical appearance are irrelevant. Are you literally suggesting thousands of people stop wearing a clothing article you dislike? HA! Absolutely pretentious with unwarranted self importance.

  2. Sheila Rowland says:

    My Dad wore a trilby ALL HIS LIFE and it was nothing like that thing you describe as a trilby. It was more like the hat you describe as a fedora. So stop making these distinctions. You are wrong.

    • Maybe he wore a fedora then? Jesus.

    • Bob Barker says:

      You not understanding the difference doesn’t change what a trilby is. He was obviously wearing a fedora if it looked like the fedora pictured above. Because that’s what a fedora is. Jesus.

  3. madscientistdave says:

    I guess I have the perfect build for a trilby. Not so broad shoulders, not as much musculature. I own a few of them and I ROCK them. Tilted ever so slightly forward and cocked slightly to the right. I love my trilbies, and no, I will NEVER call them a fedora. Fedoras simply look too big on my head. I’ll take my trilby any day, and leave the fedora to the guy that’s too big to wear a trilby.

  4. Julia Purdy says:

    As a woman, I wholeheartedly agree that the hat must be proportionate to the body. I had a boss who showed up at work on a warm Saturday afternoon (he was just stopping by when I was working) and he was wearing a short-sleeved button-down plaid shirt that looked straight out of the box, immaculate khakis, and a ridiculous little hat that in turn, along with the shirt, made him look ridiculous. He is slender but tall, and the hat looked as if it had just landed on his head, like a frisbee. But clearly he thought he was a fashion plate (he was only 42 at the time).
    Italians and other Europeans have an impeccable sense of what goes with what. The whole message is to avoid making a “brutta figura” (a bad impression). If you want a sense of style, study Vittorio DeSica.
    My father was Italian from the old country and the only hat he ever wore was a beat-up, canvas brim hat with a madras band, like the type boaters might wear on a round-the-world solo adventure. But then he was a nonconformist of the old school, anyway.

  5. Not surprised, something gets lost every time a new generation tries to “reclaim” something, and they end up messing it up. Little hipsters are no exception.

  6. Pedant!

  7. Dell Conagher says:

    I just remember a porkplie hat as the hat Fozzie Bear wore.

  8. Trilby hats were worn back in the 70’s in city neighborhoods called “barrios” by men who sold flavored ice called”piraguas” . So,I guess you could also call them “Barrio Hats”. Just a fast fact.

  9. You lost serious points for using haberdasher….a haberdashery specialized menswear, a milliner is the person who makes hats….so while even a haberdasher might make the same mistake (altho unlikely), a milliner never would.

  10. Just came across this article. While it is skewed with an agenda, it at least shows some different options for hats.

    While reading through the comments, I found myself chuckling and shaking my head. I found it funny that some people really care about what others think. They don’t even realize that their own opinion is not their own but a reflection of what the perception of others may be.

    If you don’t wear a hat because of ‘how it may look to others’ you’re an idiot. Life is short, do what you like. If you don’t want to wear a hat, don’t. Do not however, comment about those who do because you perceive it as ‘hipster’ or whatever other title you want to associate with hat wearing.

  11. I think everyone have its own taste in choosing what to wear and how he/ she look like to feel. It doesn’t matter weather you are wearing a cheap or expensive outfit accessories. Trilby and Fedora looks similar upto some extent but in close view this post share great info. I love to use headwear of all types topping with outfit. Find wide selection of hats, caps and beanies

  12. I once told Bear Bryant: “Hey man, you know that’s not a fedora you’re wearing. It’s a trilby.”

    His reply: “Sure. And this ain’t a giant flashlight in my pocket.”

  13. Hat.

  14. The Trilby is supposed to have a slope from front to back along the crown, and many of the smaller brimmed hats I see these days do not. Perhaps the term Tredora should be applied as they seem to be hybrids.


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