Trying to decide between a bowler hat (or a derby) and a fedora? There are many arguments to be made in the bowler hat vs. fedora hat debate, and most circle around issues of taste and personal preference. But there are distinct qualities each hat possesses. These things are hard to argue and dispute. So, if you are trying to pick one, consider them all.
Style and Design: Bowler vs. Fedora
There are some main style differences between the Bowler vs. Fedora. A bowler or derby hat has a round crown with no indentation, and a narrow brim curled on the side. A fedora has a tear-drop shaped crown, low sitting, and a slightly wider, flat brim. Fedoras can have a deep crease down the center of the crown and dramatically pinched sides giving it a much sharper look.
Each hat style can be modified slightly but is usually unmistakably a bowler (or derby) or a fedora.
What to Wear: Bowler or Derby vs. Fedora
If you are wondering which hat to wear, a bowler or fedora, consider the context to make your decision. Since the bowler has a truly unique style, with a round top and curled sides, it will stand out as a fashion item on its own. This can be very good, especially when you want to set yourself apart. Bowlers have a real air of sophistication and classic style-from centuries ago. This plays well at formal events when everyone might be wearing the same type of formal attire. A bowler can put your outfit over the top.
Fedoras have a sharper profile. This makes for a much more modern-looking hat that complements styles of today. It can be worn out as a casual hat, or to a formal event when you want to look impressive and urbane. Always wear one when the idea is to give yourself an air of sophistication but with a modernized feel.
History of Bowlers and Fedoras
The bowler hat (or derby hat as it is also known) is a classic hat that has fallen out of popular favor for the most part. The fedora is still very much worn and appreciated. It's actually more of a fashion icon now that it has been over the past several decades.
Bowler or derby hats were first made in 1849, decades before the fedora became popular. Stories vary as to who invented it, but there is research showing they were made first for gamekeepers who needed a lower-setting hat that wouldn't be knocked off by branches when they were on horseback. They became popular with the working class and now have cultural significance in many aspects of life.
The fedora was also a working man's hat but worn by just about everyone else as well. Everyone from politicians and world leaders to actors and singers wore the hats just about everywhere from the 1920's through the 1960's.