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Trilby Vs. Fedora...what's the difference?

Shangas

I'll Lock Up
Messages
6,115
Location
Melbourne, Australia
Please pardon my liddy ignorance...

...In a little over a week, my parents and I are flying off to Singapore to visit family and to spend Chinese New Year there.

While we're in Singapore, it's likely we'll be doing a LOT of walking outside in the warmth and the heat and the sun and all that jazz...so today, dad went out and bought himself a black, straw trilby hat. He suggested I should do the same.

...what I want to know is...what am I buying?

Are there any actual differences, appearance-wise between fedoras or trilbys? Or are they just different names for the same hat? I remember being told once that a trilby was smaller and more compact while a fedora was generally larger and could have a wider brim. How do I tell one from the other?
 

Lefty

I'll Lock Up
Messages
8,639
Location
O-HI-O
continuing the garbage analogy...

To me, trilby is to rubbish as fedora is to garbage/trash.
If you say rubbish, say trilby when you mean short, stingy fedora.
If the word rubbish sounds odd to you, don't say trilby.
 

cmalbrecht

Familiar Face
Messages
70
Location
Sacramento, CA
My feeling is that the Trilby not only has a more stingy brim, but it turns up sharply at the rear and snaps down in the front. With the Fedora, I feel that the brim is more relaxed, shaped pretty much the way you want it. Slightly up in the rear, snapped slightly down in front and for dash and style, look at an old shot of John Barrymore.:)
 

Sam Craig

One Too Many
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1,356
Location
Great Bend, Kansas
I may be way off here, but I believe a traditional Trilby also has a different shaped crown than a traditional fedora

The trilby won't have as much material to work with, so the options for shaping it will be limited, compared to a fedora

Of course this is of more importance in a felt hat than a straw, I suppose

If you want protection in a straw, I would humbly suggest choosing according to what is comfortable, what sits well on your head and what is made out of the best material for what you are doing.

Don't get a cheap, flimsy, small-brimmed straw hat and expect it to protect you from the sun, because it won't,

Sam
 

Matt Deckard

Man of Action
Messages
10,038
Location
A devout capitalist in Los Angeles CA.
I think today a Trilby is associated with a fedora with a very tapered crown, a short brim and a narrow ribbon. Mostly worn by aristocratic brits or cardigan clad ice truck drivers who don't get their modern hats reblocked when they shrink.

Opinion/
It's a fedora, though the brit hatters like to differentiate between fedora and trilby so they can sell the trilby with it's own UK identity.
 

M6Classic

One of the Regulars
Messages
107
Location
Circa Boston
Its kind of like Potter Stewart's observation from Jacobellis v. Ohio, "I know it when I see it." I think the same logic obtains to trilbies and pornography.

Buzz
 

Hal

Practically Family
Messages
590
Location
UK
Lefty said:
continuing the garbage analogy...

To me, trilby is to rubbish as fedora is to garbage/trash.
If you say rubbish, say trilby when you mean short, stingy fedora.
If the word rubbish sounds odd to you, don't say trilby.

In the UK, "trilby" has historically been the word used for the USA "fedora"
(analogous to UK rubbish/USA garbage or trash) and is widely thus used today.
The word "fedora" has only re-crossed the Atlantic eastwards in the last 25 years or so -it was NOT used here for what Americans call fedoras in the 1940s, and I don't remember coming across it until the 1980s at the earliest.
 

carldelo

One Too Many
Messages
1,568
Location
Astoria, NYC
Yes

Still pplepic said:
My feeling is that the Trilby not only has a more stingy brim, but it turns up sharply at the rear and snaps down in the front. With the Fedora, I feel that the brim is more relaxed, shaped pretty much the way you want it. Slightly up in the rear, snapped slightly down in front and for dash and style, look at an old shot of John Barrymore.:)

This is my understanding of the current state of the words, along with the greater taper to the crown of a Trilby mentioned by MD. That's in the US, though - word meanings change after crossing big bodies of water.

Down under where you are, you have a good selection of Akubra straws:
http://www.akubra.com.au/products_straws.html
On this page, to my eye the Capricorn, Rink and Country Club are archetypical Fedoras, while the Long Island strikes me as a Trilby - other opinions will vary.
 

Woodfluter

Practically Family
Messages
784
Location
Georgia
Interesting question from an historical perspective, too. Here's what I've found in my researches:

Both Trilby and Fedora bear the name of a stage play named after the principal female character. But apparently worn by the title character of the latter play, and by various male characters in the former. Both terms may have come into currency around the same year, 1895 - but in different countries.

Both Encyclopedia.com and the Oxford Companion to American Theater give a date of 1895 for the first production of "Trilby", apparently launched only a year after George Du Maurier's smash hit novel of that name. Sir Herbert Beerbohm Tree played the role of Svengali. It had a long run, so it's hard to tell exactly when the name got attached to the hat, but I'd guess it was fairly close to the opening. British novel, British play.

Trilby was set in bohemian Paris of the 1850's, but novel and play were riddled with anachronisms so the clothing would have reflected the time of the production, no doubt. But I'd also guess that it probably reflected perceptions of how boho folks would dress. So maybe a casual, sort of avant-garde headgear. Perhaps same connotations as béret in the 1950's?

"Fédora" is a play written in 1882 by Victorien Sardou (French) as a vehicle for the stage comeback of Sarah Bernhardt. The title character was described at the time as "a passionate, impulsive Muscovite princess". Fédora Romanoff was a notorious cross-dresser and apparently wore this soft, center-creased man's hat at times. The play was translated into English the following year. It was probably played in America shortly thereafter, as a March 3, 1887 article in the NY Times reviewed the divine Miss Sarah's performance (in French!) of the previous night but noted that the play was well known already due to earlier productions here, in English translation.

Dictionary.com states that the word origin of fedora, as a hat moniker, is American and the earliest documentation is an 1895 Montgomery Ward catalogue.

One amusingly confused online encyclopedia states:
"On some fedoras, small feathers are inserted in the hatband; these fedoras are called trilby hats."

So now we all know how to make the conversion! I think Yankee Doodle did something like that...

- Bill

P.S.
Wikipedia is a valuable resource, but the entry on "fedora" is truly lamentable. Any of a number of those frequenting the Lounge could clean this up. Please somebody...fix this!
 

Topper

Vendor
Messages
297
Location
England
1) The play the name came from

2) Trilby is a 2 inch or smaller brim, Fedora's brim greater than 2 inches
 

Stan

A-List Customer
Messages
336
Location
Raleigh, NC
Hi,

Well, from a hat style POV, a Trilby has so little material in the crown, that it can take only a center crease styling, and a very shallow one at that. Then, the brim is well shorter than 2 inches, more like 1.5" and under with the rear turned up so sharply that it forms almost a 180 degree curve.

It's almost like taking a stingy brim fedora and shrinking the crown and cutting off most of what little brim it has. It's only one small step removed from simply cutting all the brim off a fedora and wearing just the crown! :p

Can y'all tell that a trilby is pretty far from my preferred style of hat? lol

later!

Stan
 

avedwards

Call Me a Cab
Messages
2,425
Location
London and Midlands, UK
Hal said:
In the UK, "trilby" has historically been the word used for the USA "fedora"
(analogous to UK rubbish/USA garbage or trash) and is widely thus used today.
The word "fedora" has only re-crossed the Atlantic eastwards in the last 25 years or so -it was NOT used here for what Americans call fedoras in the 1940s, and I don't remember coming across it until the 1980s at the earliest.
I'm more inclined to agree with this than with any of the other suggestions. Most people over here call my hat a trilby, although it has a relatively wide brim.

Fedora has come into English language from the US. It's used a lot by shops now, but the same goes for notched lapels (which are called step lapels in British English).
 

AlterEgo

A-List Customer
Messages
320
Location
Southern USA
Woodfluter,

Long time, no see. Check in on the "Berets, Anyone" thread and bring us up to date with the ones you were going to get from Ron Greer.

Back on topic: Thanks, as usual, for your intelligent research, this time on the pressing Trilby vs Fedora issue. I threw up a new thread a month or so ago on this very topic, focusing of the origin of those terms, hoping someone could locate photos or, more likely, sketches/drawings of the property hats actually worn in the first stage productions of each play. Surely there must be some such pictorial documentation of the hats--advertising posters, playbills, etc.--still extant.

That would settle once and for all exactly what the original fedora and trilby looked like.

What they have morphed into today is another issue. I respect everyone's interpretation, but personally, I agree most with Matt Deckard's cogent comment:

"I think today a Trilby is associated with a fedora with a very tapered crown, a short brim and a narrow ribbon. Mostly worn by aristocratic brits or cardigan clad ice truck drivers who don't get their modern hats reblocked when they shrink.

Opinion/
It's a fedora, though the brit hatters like to differentiate between fedora and trilby so they can sell the trilby with it's own UK identity."
 

Marc Chevalier

Gone Home
Messages
18,192
Location
Los Feliz, Los Angeles, California
AlterEgo said:
Surely there must be some such pictorial documentation of the hats--advertising posters, playbills, etc.--still extant.

That would settle once and for all exactly what the original fedora and trilby looked like.


It's extremely likely that the hats worn in the 1882 Fedora play looked like Oscar Wilde's. (Photos taken during his 1882 American tour.)



6a00e554e97d5c883401127971f8c928a4-.jpg
oscar-wilde2.jpg
oscar_wilde_2.jpg



.
 

sproily

Practically Family
Messages
723
Location
Tampere, Finland
British trilby with slightly narrower brim and ribbon, some tapering in the crown
3482363633_90f3a39cd7.jpg


Fedora has a really wide brim and wide ribbon and ideally not much taper (ideally I said)

And the new fashion trilby is something far more different
bailey-charcoal-corduroy-trilby-med.jpg
 

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