Monday, 26 July 2010

Wearing formal hats and something more of soft felts

All formal hats - for example, toppers, cokes (bowlers - derbies) and hunt caps - are properly worn to sit more or less straight on the head (as in the portrait of Lord Ribblesdale, left) and, in the case of toppers and cokes, tilted slightly forward - but not at a rakish angle, which might be appropriate to soft felts, panamas and tweed hats and caps. On the subject of soft felt hats: the trilby hat is named after George du Maurier’s late 19th Century novel and play, Trilby; because one of the protagonists, Little Billee, is ‘discovered’ wearing such a hat. The heroine, Trilby O’Ferrall, an artist’s foot model, was mesmerized by the evil, controlling Svengali. George Palmella Busson du Maurier (1834-1896) enjoyed a youthful career as a Bohemian artist in Paris, before he settled in Hampstead, North London. He worked as a cartoonist for Punch and his most famous cartoon was True Humility (1895), from which we get the familiar expression ‘a Curate’s egg’; the cartoon will be reproduced in Book III.

George was the grandfather of the even more successful novelist, Daphne du Maurier.

The broader-brimmed fedora hat is also named after the heroine of Victorien Sardou’s 1882 play, Fédora.


  1. Great post! There was a time the hat was a natural extension of a gentleman’s head. It kept one cool in the Summer, and warm in the Winter. It is amazing how the culture of hat wearing vanished so quickly. But we can hope now blogs & books shall contribute to the endurance of that culture alive!

  2. The Archivist (and a family member) of James Lock & Co told me recently that 'History of Men's Fashion' (Book I), had had a 'substantial impact' on their business, which I found gratifying.