What is a Boater Hat, and Why is it Called That?

Fashion is an ever-changing thing, and some styles have faded into the background as years passed. Some are only to be appreciated in history books and fashion magazines. And speaking of classic, there’s nothing more vintage than a boater hat.

A boater hat may be stashed with fascinators, elbow-length gloves, and suspenders in a rusty trunk of antique treasures. Also, it is not just for people who ride boats, though. But why do they call it a boater hat, anyway? It’s time to discover some things about boater hats.

Where Do Boater Hats Come From

Amusingly, women and children wore boaters as early as the 1860s. Still, it wasn’t accepted as a mainstay of menswear until around 20 years later, in the 1880s. The boater was initially a woman’s hat, just as the fedora was. When it was introduced into a man’s wardrobe, it quickly gained popularity as a formal summer hat. It became a warm-weather option to the Homburg.

The boater hat’s design can be traced back to the canter straw hats worn by boatmen in canal-lined cities such as Venice.

Gondoliers or boatmen are the people who operate gondolas, which are small, flat-bottomed boats used to traverse Venice’s narrow canals. Because of their distinctive and distinguishable hats, gondoliers could be recognized and flagged down.

Now it’s not difficult to determine why it was given the boater hat name. The hats of gondoliers served as inspiration, but because the style extends beyond the Venetian canals, the particular term, gondola, was replaced with a more general term, such as boater.

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How to Wear a Boater Hat

Nowadays, many men are reluctant to wear traditional hat styles for one apparent reason: they are afraid of looking out of place. Confidence, on the other hand, is essential. And with just a few basic guidelines on how to wear a boater hat, then we’re sure you’ll be able to rock it with great confidence.

The boater hat is a pretty formal summer hat that is approximately equal informality to the Homburg. As such, it will look best when paired with a blazer or a summer suit of matching jacket and pants.

In addition, because the Homburg is the traditional headwear choice for black-tie outfits for most of the year, the boater can be worn with a black-tie in the summer. A black grosgrain hatband looks excellent with a full tuxedo. Still, a vibrantly colored hatband can liven up a warm-weather black-tie outfit.

Provided that the boater frequently has a sizeable brim, keep in mind how it corresponds to your face shape. On the other hand, Wider brims will fit long oval faces so that narrower brims will complement squat rounder faces. In the meantime, as you might expect, men with fierce and chiseled facial structures look great in almost any hat style, including the boater.

Different Types of Boater Hats for Men

Like other hats, boater hats also have different types. They usually differ from the material used to make them. And for your reference, we have listed four of the most common types of boater hats for men.

Straw Boater Hat

The straw boater hat is the most common and the most traditional style of boater hat. They are usually made from sennit, a stiff, flat straw. This can be whatever type of flat and naturally colored straw plaited or braided at a point and make a boater.

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The finished boater will have a slightly elliptical shape, a flat brim, and a flat crown, also known as a telescope crown. A boater is distinguished by a solid or striped grosgrain ribbon that wraps around the crown.

Wool Boater Hat

The straw and wool boater hats have the same style and look, with the only difference being that the wool boater is, of course, made of wool. Also, these have a snugger fit than straw hats. Not only that, but a boater is a more formal winter hat. It has the same flat brim as the above, but it is frequently dyed and adorned with a ribbon tie around the crown. This also enables more color experimentation.

Fringe Boater Hat

The fringe boater hat is remarkably similar to the straw boater hat in shape, style, and material. The only distinction is that the fringe boater has an unfinished edge, which means the straw is approximately cut around the rim of the brim, giving it a fringe look.

Panama Boater Hat

The only difference between the Panama straw boater hat and the straw boater hat is the material used in the brim. The Panama model is made entirely of palm leaves. And small bows on the sides or a flower tucked into the hatband are also typical embellishments.

Fun Fact: The Straw Hat Day

Straw Hat Day was the day when men transitioned from their felt hats to their straw hats. It is usually seen as the beginning of summer, back when it was good etiquette for all men to wear hats when they were out of doors. Of course, the exact date of straw hat day may differ from one location to the next.

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As you might expect, its cold-weather counterpart is Felt Hat Day, which occurs in most places in September or October. In some cities, groups of rowdy young people would seize and ruin any straw hat worn after Felt Hat Day in the fall.

This damaging routine led to the Straw Hat Riot in New York City in 1922, which lasted eight days. This involved a mob of around a thousand hat destroyers and led to several arrests and injuries. As you can see, hats were much more significant back then than they are today.

And if you ever wonder how to celebrate Straw Hat Day nowadays, well, it’s easy. It should be celebrated by going out and purchasing a new straw hat. They are available in almost any size, shape, or material.

Whether you choose a traditional straw hat made of wheat straw or something more exotic, such as the Baku Straw hat made from Talipot Palm stalks, Straw Day is your opportunity to add another hat to your wardrobe. And if you’re feeling incredibly imaginative, you can even consider making your own.

The Bottom Line

It may look a little bit vintage, but everyone will agree that a boater hat is a staple headgear for men. It can turn your outfit from simple to classy quickly. So, what are you waiting for? Treat yourself and get a boater hat for yourself.

READ ALSO: What is a Trilby Hat?

Jonathan B. Delfs

I love to write about men's lifestyle and fashion. Unique tips and inspiration for daily outfits and other occasions are what we like to give you at MensVenture.com. Do you have any notes or feedback, please write to me directly: [email protected]

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