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The Bowler or Derby Hat

Discussion in 'Hats' started by carter, Oct 3, 2008.

  1. carter

    carter I'll Lock Up

    Since we have a resurgence of interest in the Bowler or Derby hat on the lounge lately, it seems a good idea to have a thread dedicated to this iconic headgear.

    "Bowler hat

    The bowler hat is a hard felt hat with a rounded crown created for Thomas Coke, 2nd Earl of Leicester of Holkham Thomas Coke, 2nd Earl of Leicester in 1850. It was designed by the hatters James and George Lock of Mr. Lock of St. James's Street and was dubbed by them early on as the "iron hat". The Locks sent their design to the hatmakers Thomas and William Bowler who produced the prototype of the hat for Coke. The "iron hat" later picked up the name Bowler because of its makers' family name, which has been used ever since.
    It was hard in order to protect the head from low tree branches for gamekeepers while they rode on horseback. Peaking in popularity towards the end of the 19th century, it offered a midway between the formality of the top hat, associated with the upper classes, and the casual nature of soft felt hats worn by the lower middle classes. It was the traditional headwear of London city 'gents' and has become something of an English cultural icon. However English men stopped wearing hats as a matter of course in the 1960s, and most young English people in the 21st century have never seen a bowler hat worn as part of normal dress.
    It is also traditionally worn by members of the Orange Order in Northern Ireland Northern Ireland during their 12th July annual parades, though usage has declined.


    totallyfrozen likes this.
  2. Brad Bowers

    Brad Bowers I'll Lock Up

    Good idea, carter!

    On this side of the pond, the Derby was certainly the most ubiquitous hat of the late-nineteenth/early-twentieth century. It seems to have been more of an Everyman's hat, which is probably why the upper classes eventually picked up on the Homburg to differentiate themselves. The Derby was more prevalent hat in the Old West than any of Stetson's broad-brimmed hats, too.

    101 Pathfinder likes this.
  3. carter

    carter I'll Lock Up

    Bat Masterson wore a derby
    The Son of Man by Magritte wears a bowler
    Stan Laurel wore a derby
    Hercule Poirot wore a bowler
    Winston Churchill wore a bowler
  4. AlanC

    AlanC My Mail is Forwarded Here

    ^Churchill's looks like a homburg to me. I think I see a center dent. Are you sure Poirot isn't also wearing a homburg?
  5. Dinerman

    Dinerman Super Moderator Bartender

    Those are Homburgs...
  6. AlanC

    AlanC My Mail is Forwarded Here

  7. carter

    carter I'll Lock Up

    On-line references refer to them both as bowlers. It'll be interesting to see how many variations there may be/have been in the brims and crowns of bowlers/derbys. Let's post ours here and see what we discover.
  8. GWD

    GWD One Too Many

    It seems that Hercule Poirot also wore a small bat under his nose.
  9. AlanC

    AlanC My Mail is Forwarded Here

    A few others in bowlers:



    Captain O and 101 Pathfinder like this.
  10. Levallois

    Levallois Practically Family

    101 Pathfinder likes this.
  11. Crane's

    Crane's Familiar Face

    My stingy brim modern Beaver bowler.


    And my vintage Portis Frolicking Bunny bowler.


    I like bowlers. It is the great American hat and works for all occasions.
    101 Pathfinder likes this.
  12. just_me

    just_me Practically Family

    In a specific segment of the population, bowlers are still worn.

    Though most higher level dressage riders wear top hats, bowlers are still worn by some dressage riders. Most equestrian supply companies sell them.


    I believe that saddle seat riders all wear bowlers.

  13. AlanC

    AlanC My Mail is Forwarded Here

    Bowler from the Titanic:

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  14. just_me

    just_me Practically Family

    Thanks for posting the hat from the Titanic. :eusa_clap From the Titanic - amazing.
  15. Delthayre

    Delthayre One of the Regulars

    Victor Echo November

    That hat from the Titanic appears to be in remarkable condition, considering that it was... well, on the Titanic.

    I like bowlers, but I never wear them as I look quite foolish when wearing one. A friend of mine wears a bowler from time to time, the result of my encouragement. Last year I gave him a Christy's bowler as a gift last year, which he adores, but it too reluctant to wear.

    Incidentally, has anyone ever been occasioned to personally see either of the bowler and derby that Optimo advertises? I well know their reputation for quality, but bowlers can be a rather different sort of thing from fedoras.
  16. That Titanic bowler is sort of strongly evocative.

    Can't leave out Stan's partner, Oliver Hardy, another famous bowler user!

  17. More iconic movie bowlers:


    Malcolm McDowell Clockwork Orange


    Liza Minelli Cabaret
  18. In comics too...



    Tintin's series erstwhile detectives, Dupond et Dupont (Thomson & Thompson, Hernández y Fernández, etc)
  19. Another well known bowler buff...

  20. Hi again,

    The postman just came with a timely delivery for this thread!



    It is a new Beaver Brand bowler, in Mink. I do not have my "good" camera now, but I hope you can get the idea with these snaps. Felt is a 5X fur that I believe is their standard.

    I chose a brown shade as a less dressy alternative to black. The idea is to wear it with the "everyman's hat" concept in mind, as opposed to the "upper classman's hat"; I hope I am conveying the idea it properly.

    I am thinking of adding a feather in appropriate complementary colours. Not that I favour feathers normally, but maybe it could work here to "de-dress" it further. What do you think? Does anyone have a discarded feather which would serve this purpose, or suggest where could I get one?


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