If you’ve ever gone looking for the right headgear to elevate your look, you’ve probably noticed that there are roughly a gazillion different types of men’s hats.
(Alright fine, that’s not a scientifically accurate number – or even a real one – but that’s definitely how it feels sometimes.)
But while there may be a wide range of men’s hat styles in existence, the truth is that, for the modern man, there are really only a select few in play if you want to look your best.
From formal-feeling wide brim hats to cool, casual knit caps, in this post I’ll break down some of the most classic, masculine and stylish types of hats for men who want their lid to look sharp.
The Most Essential Mens Hat Styles
Breaking Down the Most Stylish Types of Hats for Men
Also called a Cuffley cap or Lippincott cap, the Ascot has a rounded shape in both the front and back, and a certain hardness that helps it maintain its shape.
Ascot Cap vs Flat Cap
The Ascot is often mistaken for the flat cap (on which, more below), which is similar in overall style.
But unlike ascots, flat caps don’t have the same round, almost bulbous shape; as their name implies, flat caps lie flatter on the head.
A hard felt hat, an Akubra is a sort of Australian cowboy hat that dates back to late 19th century Tasmania.
It’s still warn for sun protection by many Australians today, particularly in rural areas.
Reminiscent of the iconic hat Paul Hogan wore in Crocodile Dundee, it works on just about any face shape and gives off a distinctly rugged bad-ass vibe.
The name is actually derived from the company that first made and popularized them, so it’s sort of like the Kleenex of the hat world.
(And yes, I admit that it might seem paradoxical to refer to the same hat as “rugged bad-ass” in one sentence and “the Keelnex of the hat word” in the next, but here we are.)
The perfect head gear for both hitting the slopes and robbing a bank* (talk about versatile!) the Balaclava is not so much a hat as a mask.
More specifically, it’s a knitted winter hat/ski mask that can be rolled up to protect the top of the head, or rolled down to protect the entire face, with holes for the eyes and mouth.
The (rather bad-ass sounding) name is derived from the Battle of Balaclava, a Crimean War battle from 1854 in which British troops wore handmade knitted headwear in attempt to protect themselves against the harsh winter weather.
*I really can’t stress this enough: that was a joke.
Please don’t rob a bank!
The baseball hat started with an obviously practical purpose – to keep the sun out of ball players’ eyes while they fielded fly balls.
But it’s developed an additional aesthetic one – to add a dose of athletic, casual cool to the head of just about any man.
And I do mean any man. Baseball caps have developed a bit of a reputation as “dad hats,” but they look just as good on guys without a brood of their own.
Toque (aka Beanie)
What we Canadians call toques (the spelling is derived from a French word, but in English it rhymes with “nukes”), Americans tend to refer to as knit caps or beanies.
No matter what you call them, these knit winter hats are an absolute staple during colder months.
They’re a more portable alternative to the trapper hat made famous by movies like Fargo, since they’re easy to fold up and shove in the pocket of your winter jacket.
While there’s no more stylish way to keep your head warm when the temperature drops, the one disadvantage is that they tend to mess up a man’s haircut, so consider yourself warned.
As their name implies, straw hats like the Boater were the headgear of choice for seamen in the late 1800s and early 1900s.
But today they’ve also come to be associated with barbershop quartets, which came into popularity at about the same time.
Today you most often see boaters back in warm-weather and nautical settings like regattas or garden parties (assuming you’re the type of person who attends regattas and garden parties, that is).
Also known as a Derby hat, bowlers hats have a rounded crown and a famously bulbous shape that’s more spherical than most other hats.
They were originally created in London in 1849 (by a pair of brothers named Bowler, hence the name), but gained traction in the United States, becoming the most-worn style of hat in the American West.
Since then Bowler has popped up in many forms of media and pop culture over the years, from Charlie Chaplin and Oddjob to Boy George and the Riddler.
A soft cotton hat with a wide brim that protects your face and neck from the sun, the Bucket hat was first made famous by Gilligan on Gilligan’s Island, and has gone in and out of fashion ever since.
It had something of a resurgence in the ’90s when the lead singer of the New Radicals wore one in their video for You Get What You Give.
Of course, today we live in an era when everything ’90s is in again (I’m looking at you, circular sunglass lenses).
So it’s no surprise that the bucket hat – also sometimes called a sun hat – is back in a big way, and a popular choice among stylish members of Gen Z.
Both a classic style of men’s hats and (in my opinion) one of the most stylish, the Fedora has gone from one of the most popular hats to something of a novelty.
Why? According to a popular menswear myth, it was all JFK’s fault.
When John F. Kennedy was inaugurated in 1961, at the height of the Fedora’s popularity, he famously chose to forego the hat.
And he looked so damn dashing while doing so, the theory goes, that millions of men decided they should ditch their hats as well.
As a result, the Fedora and other similar dress hats, like the panama hat, have been on the decline ever since.
(Although, at Joe Biden’s inauguration in January 2021, I couldn’t help but notice that more men than I would have expected were actually sporting Fedoras in the crowd. So maybe it’s finally on its way back? Fingers crossed.)
The Flat cap goes by more names than maybe any other type of hat.
In Ireland, where it originated, it’s known as a paddy cap, in Scotland they call it a bunnet, in Wales it’s a Dai cap, while in New Zealand it’s (for some reason) called a cheese-cutter and in the U.S. it’s just called a driving cap.
The traditional flat cap is made of tweed (which is no surprise, given its Irish heritage), but you can also find them in wool, cotton and more out-there materials like leather and linen.
Newsboy Cap (aka a Gatsby)
Similar in design to a flat cap (and often confused for one), newsboy caps share the stiff front visor, but have a rounder and fuller shape.
A newsboy hat is often made of multiple panels that come together at the top of the hat, where they’re held in place with a button, making it a more floppy hat than the flat cap.
Like flat caps, they’ve seen something of a resurgence in recent years, due in no small part to the popularity of shows like Peaky Blinders, where they’re worn to perfection by Cillian Murphy and his co-stars.
- Want to learn how to rock another staple of Thomas Shelby’s (stylish as hell) wardrobe? Check out our guide on how to
wearrock a pocket watch in the 21st century.
- And if you want to know how to suit up like a Shelby, check out our full roundup of the best Peaky Blinder suits available to buy online.
Sometimes confused with a Fedora, a Homburg is another style of felt hat that has a brim running all the way around it.
But unlike a Fedora, a Homburg has just one single dent at the top, called the gutter crown, which runs the length of the hat.
The name comes from the German town where the hat originated as hunting gear.
Its German origins are actually a bit ironic, because it’s probably most recognizable as the preferred hat style of Winston Churchill, the British Prime Minister whose crowning achievement was rallying the Brits to strengthen their resolve and defeat the Germans in the Second World War.
Another felt hat that’s in the same vein as hats like the Fedora and Homburg, the Porkpie is distinguished by its flat top and circular shape, which resembled an actual pork pie, hence the name.
Like the Boater, Porkpies were most popular in the early 1900s and peaked during the Depression.
And though it’s name-dropped in Frosty the Snowman, the most famous modern Pork pie hat sat atop the head of Bryan Cranston’s Walter White character in Breaking Bad, when he took on his deadly meth-cooking persona, Heisenberg.
(And it’s a testament to just how amazing an actor Cranston is that he managed to look menacing as hell in the Porkpie.)
Cowboy Hat (aka a Stetson)
What we now think of as a Cowboy Hat was for a longtime simply known as a Stetson, named for the eponymous company founded by John B. Stetson in 1865, which essentially became the unofficial hat maker of the American West.
While there are multiple models, the most famous style of Cowboy hat almost looks like a Fedora on steroids:
It has a similar shape up top, but a much wider stiff brim, which is designed to protect against your face on sunny days.
Easily the most formal of all the different hat styles on this list, top hats, which are sometimes also called beaver hats, are very rarely worn today unless as part of a costume.
The one place you may still see them in real life is in the UK, where grey top hats (which for some reason are referred to as”white” hats) are worn to certain formal occasions when the dress code calls for a morning suit, like at certain horse races.
Easily the hat that’s most often confused with a Fedora (thanks for nothing, Justin Timberlake) entire articles have been written about the difference between a Trilby and a Fedora, but ultimately it comes down to the brim.
The Trilby sports a much more narrow, short brim, which is angled so that it dips down at the front and goes up at the back.
By contrast, the Fedora’s brim is wider and relatively flat/level all the way around.
Mad Men’s iconic lead character Don Draper provides a great example of the differences between the two hats, and how frequently they get confused.
Most people automatically assume that Draper wore a Fedora hat, but in most cases he actually opted for the thin-brimmed Trilby.
What do you get when you take a classic baseball cap and remove the fine materials and craftsmanship? Trucker caps.
Alright fine, that’s a bit harsh, but it’s not far off. A trucker hat is basically a baseball cap that uses foam for the front and brim, and cheap – excuse me, “breathable” – mesh for the back.
Fun Hat Fact:
Before they were adopted by long haul truckers, trucker hats were called “gimme” hats.
They were frequently given away as part of a free promotion from farming supply companies, who gave them to farmers and truckers.
You Know the Best Types of Mens Hats
Now Learn How to Look Your Best From the Head Down
Now that you understand what distinguishes the different types of hats for men, you’ll be able to choose the right hat style to suit your head, your look and your life.
But while the right headgear can certainly help, the truth is that handsomeness goes well beyond hats.
If you want to look your best, you don’t just need the right hat; you need to know how to optimize your entire appearance from head to toe.
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