13.5 Felt hats for the 50’s

felt hatIn the early 50’s, the Festival of Male Fashion was born in San Remo. The intention was to recreate a selected clientele of refined taste since hats were loosing ground and disappearing from daily use. The International Hat Congress was held in Switzerland and the European Association of Industrial Hat Makers studied new ways of launching felt hats.

In 1958, the MAMBO was advertised with a flat crown, and the sportier ROBIN had an “upside-down tower” crown. Productivity picked up and gentlemen focused on elegance and the good life once again. Races, theatres and evening dances underlined the styles of belonging to society.

supple tweed hatTowards the mid 50’s, hats seemed to have regained their place in everyday life and were always present in celebrity close ups that filled the front pages. A classic grey felt hat went with Gregory Peck in Roman Holiday, while supple tweed hats made their way in chequered or pied-depoule prints, like the one that became “the producer’s hat” on Federico Fellini’s illustrious head. Alì Khan attended Epson’s Grand Derby in tights and grey top hat while Italians were “best dressed men” aboard luxurious transatlantic ships that had returned to their oceanic routes.

rain coat 50

Tuxedos continued to remain a must in mundane settings, coordinated with patent leather shoes and black hats, either flabby or firm. In this period, hatters were still precious advisors that practiced their craft in their workshop. The last steps were carried out in the hat shop at the moment of the sale. In these boutiques hats were shaped according to trends then brushed and polished. In the end they were trimmed and lined, and this included the application of an inner band sewn along the edge of the felt that was in contact with the head, or they were decked with a feather.

The more refined hats had a satin lining and were sometimes decorated with a gold or silver silk braid and buckle. Black dyed hats had no reason to fear moths because the acid in the dye repelled them. Instead, white or natural coloured ones needed to be wrapped in galipot in case they were stored. Once the felt hat was complete, in whatever shape or size, the hatter’s job continued with assistance in preserving it or repairing it.


1. G. FOLLEDORE, Il cappello da uomo, Zanfi Editori, Modena, 1988, pg.42
2. Ibidem, pg.54
3. Ibidem, pgs. 71 s.
4. Ibidem, pg. 105

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