Fedora versus trilby

fedora vs trilby

One wet evening in Paris last October, I impulsively bought a jaunty little hat to protect my pointed little head from the rain. It cost, I think, seven or eight euro.

Three-quarters of a year later, I still wear it, almost every day. I adore it. It’s a nice daily reminder of our time in France, and I am foolish enough to think I look cute in it.

Then I saw this on Tumblr:


fedora trilby 01 fedora 02


fedora 03 fedora 04 fedora 05

Strike me dead! I’m wearing a damned trilby.

So hipsters are turning on themselves now. A trilby won’t do; evidently you’d better wear a fedora (so long as you’re wearing a suit, or if you’re Humphrey Bogart or Frank Sinatra, or if you’re Indiana Jones, or a really cool hipster).

How does the cool fedora differ from the uncool trilby? Fedoras are bigger. The fedora has a higher crown than the trilby, and a wider brim. The trilby’s brim is generally turned down in front.  Both are named after women, by the way.  “Fedora” – the Russian “Theodora” – was the title character of a Sardou play of the late 1800s; “Trilby” was the name of a novel by George du Maurier (featuring the evil hypnotist Svengali). When “Trilby” was dramatized in the early 1900s, the lead actress wore a smart little hat with the brim snapped down in front.

Anyway: the disagreements of hipsters are endless. What are we supposed to wear?

I don’t care. In fact, I have never cared. I don’t care if I look like hell. I like bright colors, and comfortable clothes.

And I like my little hat.

And I think “trilby” is a cute name for a hat.

And I think I’m pretty cute too:

ljw 2012

About Loren Williams
Gay, partnered, living in Providence, working at a local university. Loves: books, movies, TV. Comments and recriminations can be sent to futureworld@cox.net.

18 Responses to Fedora versus trilby

  1. Trilby, Gentleman Thief says:

    Ever heard of the Chzo Mythos?
    Trilbies are great.

  2. Aubrey Pek says:

    I have also bought them today. I think people are just too hung up on concepts and what-to-dos… if attire is self expression, clearly self defeating then! I am happy with my little hats too.

  3. grmpf says:

    I love that “punchline” image of you with your hat. 🙂 Regarding the trilby aversion expressed in those images, I’m sure you’re fine — even with the person who created those images. They’re most likely addressed at very young men who try to look cool or make themselves more interesting but usually end up failing. It’s a whole phenomenon.

  4. E.H. says:

    My guy wears a fedora (and has as long as I know him). I ended up wearing the trilby I bought him before I realized he had a brim requirement. (And I look pretty cute in it, too.) 😉

    • I understand the fedora / trilby dichotomy. I think I’d look stupidly retro in a fedora; I just don’t have the gravitas to bring it off. But I can manage to look sprightly / elfin / silly in a trilby.

  5. Morgan says:

    “A trilby is a fedora in the same way a dog is a wolf”

    Um. Dogs ARE wolves. They’re the same species – Canis lupus.

    • Um. Canis lupis vs. Canis lupis domesticus. Can they interbreed successfully, and are their offspring viable? Not necessarily. Don’t play taxonomy with me, Morgan. Besides that: is one thing the same as another because they’re both the same species? Are you and are the same species, and are we the same as one another? I think not. Don’t play semantics with me, Morgan.

  6. Craig Spinharney says:

    The late Maurice Gibb made the Trilby work as well as ANY Fedora I’ve seen ANYONE else wear.

  7. Mark says:

    I would call the hat labeled ‘fedora’ in the first image at the top of the page a trilby. I think the difference between ‘trilby’ and ‘fedora’ is the difference between the Queen’s English and vulgar Americanisms. I would call the small brimmed hat a ‘stingy brimmed trilby’. If you don’t believe what I say about the fedora, Google ‘racing trilby’.

  8. Michael says:

    I wish the trilby didn’t have d-bag connotations. There are people for whom it is the perfect hat who get unfairly tarred by that reputation. That certainly doesn’t include everyone who wears one, but some people.

    Typically, style guides want the brim of your hat to be proportional to the width of your shoulders (not as wide as your shoulders; no one needs a sombrero). If you are Frank-Sinatra-at-age-18 skinny, then a trilby definitely looks better than a fedora. If you are Frank-Sinatra-Performing-At-The-Reagan-Whitehouse not-skinny, a fedora may be a better choice.

    Only you (and your milliners, loved ones, friends, neighbors, and the judgmental people at your local pub and all over the internet) can decide if a hat looks good on you. If you like it, wear it. It helps to know what the rules are before breaking them, but if you’re confident in it, it’s right for you.

  9. rohvannyn says:

    You DO look cute in your Trilby. Wear it proudly!

  10. The trilby is a good look for you. I think it’s ridiculous the way people are stereotyped for wearing a particular style of hat. Fortunately, middle aged guys like us are immune to this judgement. It seems to apply to young people.

    I wear fedoras. I like the way they look on me. The wider brim suits my shoulder width.

    Keep wearing that trilby. You look great in it and I admire your self confidence.

  11. Trilby says:

    Thankyou ~ Trilby

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