BBC's Sherlock - A Look Into Their Hat Closet

  • , by Alex Torres
  • 5 min reading time

It took nearly three years, but the wait is over, Season 4 of BBC's smash series Sherlock is upon us. There's been no shortage of mystery and drama throughout the entire series, but what really impressed us were the impeccable hat selections we've seen on Benedict Cumberbatch's Sherlock Holmes and Martin Freeman's John Watson.

While BBC's Sherlock takes places in modern day England, the Emmy Award winning "The Abominable Bride" episode features Holmes and Watson back in 19th century Victorian London, as originally told by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. This television special featured a plethora of hat fashions not seen in the current series.

The Deerstalker

If you're wondering, “What is a deerstalker hat?" The deerstalker hat is commonly known as a rounded cap made of six or eight triangular panels sewn together and is made of a light or heavy wool tweed, or cloth. It's known for its side flaps (visors) that can be worn down and tied under the chin to protect the ears in cold weather and high winds or they can be tied up above the crown to keep them out of the way when not in use. Deerstalkers may be made of solid-colored material, but most often feature houndstooth checkers, herringbone, or plaid patterns in the twill of a fabric which serves as camouflage.

Nothing is more widely associated and iconic to Sherlock Holmes than the Deerstalker hat. In the Series 2 finale, Sherlock Holmes was gifted a deerstalker by Detective Inspector Lestrade as thanks for helping to solve a case.

Sherlock clearly indicates his dislike for the hat, but is urged to wear it by his sidekick John Watson, who later declares it is 'no longer a deerstalker. That's a Sherlock Holmes hat'.

Sherlock Holmes is never actually described wearing a deerstalker in author Arthur Conan Doyle's original Sherlock stories, but has always been associated with the fictional detective since Sidney Paget's illustrations and depictions.

The Bowler

Another hat frequently featured due to the era the show is based in, is the bowler hat. A sophisticated and classy hat, which is sure to give any outfit a dapper appearance, which Martin Freeman has undoubtedly shown us again and again.

The bowler, also called a bob hat, bombín (Spanish) or derby was created in 1849 when a London hat maker was commissioned to create a stiffer hat to protect horseback riders from low hanging branches. Prior, top hats had been worn while riding, with the high crown easily knocked off or crushed underfoot.

In the 19th century, the English businessmen, called “City Gents," were fond of wearing the style, which in the Sherlock series, Watson pays homage to.

The Top Hat

When dressing for formal occasions, Sherlock Holmes dons the signature fashion piece of any self-respecting proper gentleman, the top hat. Though not the typical deerstalker hat Sherlock Holmes is famous for, this classy upgrade is pleasing to any Sherlock fan nevertheless.

The top hat is tall, with a flat crown, and broad brim. It was worn by the British from the 18th to mid-20th century. Historians credit the top hat as descending from a 17th century sugarloaf hat, similar in design to a pilgrim hat.

The first silk top hat in England came from a Middlesex hatter in 1793, where upper class hats were typically made of beaver fur felt. Over the next 20 years the style surpassed social status as all men wore them. In the 19th century Prince Albert favored the top hat, making it a status of urban respectability rather than simple a fashion item.

The Flat Cap

Whether heading to set, catching a cab, or exiting a red-eye to New York, Sherlock's Benedict Cumberbatch never leaves his fashion sense behind. Cumberbatch was recently spotted at JFK airport sporting a trendy biker jacket and ivy flat cap. It's refreshing to see the actor who portrays Sherlock so effortlessly in the television series is also a fan of stylish hats while off-screen.

Known by many names, the flat cap is commonly called an ivy cap, cabbie cap, scally cap, duckbill cap or paddy cap. The flat cap originates from 14th century Northern England, first called a bonnet, when the term cap came about in 1700.

In 1571 Parliament, attempting to stimulate the wool and trade industry, decreed that all men were to wear woolen caps on Sundays and holidays, or pay a fine.

Britain saw rampant favor of the flat cap in the 19th and 20th century when all men dressed in some sort of headwear. Whether by upper class men in a casual countryside setting, or stylish men of the 1920's, boys of all social classes wore flat caps during this time.

The Newsboy Cap

Caught arriving to set, ready to film the hit BBC Sherlock series, Benedict Cumberbatch was seen sporting a fancy newsboy cap. Even when out of character, Cumberbatch takes effort to ensure he is always well dressed when the paparazzi is lurking.

The newsboy cap is similar to a flat cap, but has a rounder body and a paneled buttoned top. It is also called a baker boy, apple cap, eight piece cap, Gatsby cap, or poor boy cap.

Though associated with street-hawking newspaper boys, it was worn by both boys and men of the late 19th century. Once immortalized by orphan Oliver Twist from famed English author Charles Dickens, around 1910 the newsboy cap gained universal popularity among the lower class blue collar workers.

New to these Hats? Read our Guide to Get you Started

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