Hat History Home
Dress Hats
Gangster Fedoras
Panama Straw Hats
Western Hats
Borsalino Hats
Dobbs Hats
Indiana Jones Fedora
Stetson Hats
Golf Celebrities
Hat Care

Hat History
PO Box 995
Angel Fire, NM

Evolution of Straw dress hats - Today's Straws

Evolution of Straw hats and Felt hats - Boater Dress hats The precise definition of the word straw is the stalk of any grain plant, for example wheat, rye, or oats. Although only certain types of summer hats are actually created from straw, and straw hat terminology differs somewhat within the hat trade, the term straws are generally used to describe a variety of summer hats including those actually made of straw, hats made from other natural vegetable fibers, and hats synthetically manufactured to simulate straw. Some well-known straw hat styles, in particular the Boater and Optimo, have no counterpart in felt.

The Boater straw, also popularly known as Sailor, Sennit, and Skimmer is a stiff straw hat, and easily distinguished by its flat top crown. In the mid 1930's Yachting patrons accounted for half or more of straw-hat sales, but by the early 1950's the Boater straw hat had gained universal popularity, and was no longer exclusive to Yachting. Boater straws are still considered one of the dressiest of straw hats, thoroughly suitable for eveningwear and formal occasions, and still preferred by some for all around wear.

A number of elements affect and transform the appearance of a straw hat, including the crown and brim dimensions, the crown shape, band width and color, inside trim, and certainly the straw texture, weave and quality.

The look of a straw or felt hat is specific to an individual's facial features and color, and one style in all likelihood will be more flattering than another. The width and flange of the brim in combination with the height and shape of the crown are the primarily contributors to a straw hat's appearance and style. On the whole, wider straw hat brims are the norm and preferred, since a straw hat brim appears smaller than a felt hat brim of equal dimension; and additionally, the wider brim offers enhanced protection from the sun's rays.

Most straw-hat crowns are pre-shaped in the factory eliminating the process of hand creasing. Today the hatter focuses on fitting the face of each individual by carefully selecting those shapes most flattering to his patron.

Today, many straw hats are offered in a variety of trimmings and band sizes, and many bands are conveniently interchangeable.

Evolution of Straw dress hats - read more
Felt dress hats - read more


History of Straw hats and Felt hats furnishes enlightening detail, beginning with interesting accounts of dress hats in the early years, through the roaring 20's gangster fedoras, includes features on golf and movie celebrities' hats, and highlights some original and contemporary hatmakers.