Man wearing fedora hat.

Porkpie Hat vs. Fedora

Choosing a hat is not just a matter of flipping a coin or closing your eyes and choosing one. Selecting the right hat requires thought, knowledge, and getting a feel for the hat. A hat must make you feel good.

Two hats that are commonly confused are porkpie hats and fedoras. It is important to know the difference as each hat has a different style.

A porkpie hat has a relatively short crown with a circular indentation around the entire rim. The brim is narrow and usually flat and stiff. A fedora hat’s creased crown is larger and fits over much of the head.

The brim is medium length and broader than the porkpie hat brim.

People sometimes confuse porkpie and fedora hats, but they are two different styles. You would not want to confuse your headgear and choose the wrong hat.

What is a Porkpie Hat?

A bright red porkpie hat adorned with silk band and ribbon.

A porkpie hat has a crown that varies in height but is generally considered a low-crowned hat. The height of the crown is usually around three and a half inches (nine centimeters), but some can be a bit shorter than this.

The crown is described as telescopic in millinery circles. This means there is a deep crease between the sides of the crown and the top of the crown. This feature is reminiscent of the way a baker fits a pie together.

There is usually a ribbon around the crown, which may be a single color or two-toned.

Pork pie hats have a narrow brim, similar to the trilby, earning them a place in the group of ‘stingy-brim hats.’  The brims are usually worn flat and maybe stiffened to keep them level. Other manufacturers produce pork pie hats with a slight brim roll.

What is a Fedora Hat?

A fedora hat with black band resting on a wood plank table.

A fedora is a hat with a crown of four and a half inches (eleven centimeters) that is creased or pinched. The creases can create a teardrop, diamond shape, or a central indentation. The height and position of the crease can vary to give the hat different styles.

It is common for a ribbon to be situated low on the crown. The brim is medium wide (two and a half inches – six and a half centimeters). It can vary slightly according to the manufacturer and chosen style.  Fedora brims are usually worn flat and level.

How to Tell The Difference Between a Porkpie Hat and a Fedora

A set of hats hanging on a wooden rack.

These hats share some similar features, but some differences allow you to identify them.

Porkpie vs. Fedora Crowns

Fedora hats have taller crowns at four and a half inches compared to the three and a half inches of porkpie hats. The fedora hat is designed to be well seated on the head as opposed to the porkpie with its short crown, which perches on the head.

Fedoras have creasing to give varying patterns to the indentations on the crown. Porkpie hats have a circular indentation that differentiates the sides from the top of the crown.

Both crowns are usually encircled with ribbons. Fedoras tend to be single-tone ribbons and may be decorated with a single feather tucked in the side. Porkpie hats are decorated with single or two-tone ribbons.

Porkpie vs. Fedora Brims

The two hats’ brims are usually worn straight and level, but the porkpie hat brim may be reinforced to make it stiffer. The most significant difference between the two brims is that the porkpie has a narrower brim than the fedora.

What are Porkpie and Fedora Hats Made From?

A bunch of hats in various colors and styles.

Fedora hats are often made from fur felt, making them a relatively pricey option. Fur used includes rabbit, beaver, mink, and chinchilla. Cheaper fedoras are made using straw, oiled cotton, canvas, or hemp.

Porkpie hats are made of cotton, straw, felt, or silk-covered canvas.  Porkpie hats have occasionally been made from leather which is quite an expensive option.

Where Did the Names Porkpie Hat and Fedora Come From?

Black and white photo of a man in a car wearing a fedora hat.

Both porkpie hats and fedoras had the origin of their names in show business. Fedora hats were named after a stage play called Fedora written by Victorien Sardou, which first opened in the United States in 1889. The heroine wore a hat shaped like a fedora, and the craze began.

Porkpie hats were invented by comedic actor Buster Keaton who wanted a durable signature hat to wear in his movies. He designed a hat based on fedoras and straw-boaters, which he had made from felt. The brims were stiffened with sugar water to make them more durable.

His fans in the 1920s were so taken with the hat design that they began asking milliners for hats in this style. The hats were given the title porkpie as they resembled baked meat pork pies.  The hats were also commonly produced in brown, which further enhanced the similarity to the meat pastries.

Who Wears Porkpie and Fedora Hats?

Woman wearing a gray hat posing at  the city.

Both men and women wear porkpie hats and fedoras in modern fashion. Porkpie hats are synonymous with jazz and are even sometimes marketed as jazz hats. Fedoras are very popular with musicians such as Michael Jackson and Gwen Stefani.

In bygone eras, both hats were produced in black, brown, and occasionally blue. These days brighter colors are used to make a statement, and feathers can be seen decorating the hatbands of both fedoras and porkpie hats.

Hipsters often choose to wear hats, but it is essential to choose the right hat style for your face.  Porkpie hats look comedic on a round face or a large head.

If you are very tall and do not want to accentuate your height, the porkpie hat may be right for you.

Fedoras are functional hats that shade your face and can be worn by almost any shape person or face. They are considered the ultimate in style and can be worn to elegant events.

Conclusion

These days people wear hats to express themselves and their unique style. If you choose to wear a hat, take a look at porkpie and fedora hats. Choose one that suits you best or buy one of each of your face shape suits both hats.

My choice would land firmly on the side of a fedora because of their versatility and overall elegance, but some people like the quirkiness of a porkpie hat.

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