A hat is any of various styles of head covering.
Hats are worn for various reasons, including protection against weather conditions, ceremonial reasons such as university graduation, religious reasons, safety, or as a fashion accessory.
While there are not many official records of hats before 3,000 BC, they probably were commonplace before that. The 27,000-to-30,000-year-old Venus of Willendorf figurine may depict a woman wearing a woven hat.
One of the earliest known confirmed hats was worn by a Bronze Age man nicknamed Ötzi whose body (including his hat) was found frozen in a mountain between Austria and Italy, where he had been since around 3250 BC. He was found wearing a bearskin cap with a chin strap, made of several hides stitched together, essentially resembling a Russian fur hat without the flaps.
One of the first pictorial depictions of a hat appears in a tomb painting from Thebes, Egypt, which shows a man wearing a conical straw hat, dated to around 3200 BC. Hats were commonly worn in ancient Egypt.
In Ancient Greece people sometimes wore wide-brimmed hats to shade themselves from the Sun.
The Phrygian cap, worn by freed slaves in Greece and Rome (which became iconic in America during the Revolutionary War and the French Revolution, as a symbol of the struggle for liberty against the Monarchy.
St. Clement, the patron saint of felt hatmakers, is said to have discovered felt when he filled his sandals with flax fibers to protect his feet, around 800 AD.
In Europe in the Middle Ages men wore hoods or berets. In the early Middle Ages, women wore veils. In the late Middle Ages, women’s hats became very elaborate. Some wealthy women wore a tall, conical hat called a hennin. Other women wore hats with two ‘horns’.
The term ‘milliner’ comes from the Italian city of Milan, where the best quality hats were made in the 18th century. Millinery was traditionally a woman’s occupation, with the milliner not only creating hats and bonnets but also choosing lace, trimmings and accessories to complete an outfit.
The humble flat cap can be traced back to medieval England and was even the subject of Tudor sumptuary laws. In an attempt to spur on the wool trade an Act of Parliament was instituted in 1571 decreeing that all males over six years old (except for the nobility) had to wear a wool cap on Sundays and holidays, with a penalty of a fine if they refused. The non-aristocratic association stuck and the flat cap became an icon of working class culture in the 19th and 20th centuries.
In the first half of the 19th century, women wore bonnets that gradually became larger, decorated with ribbons, flowers, feathers, and gauze trims. By the end of the century, many other styles were introduced, among them hats with wide brims and flat crowns, the flower pot and the toque. By the middle of the 1920s, when women began to cut their hair short, they chose hats that hugged the head like a helmet.
The tradition of wearing hats to horse racing events began at the Royal Ascot in Britain, which maintains a strict dress code. All guests in the Royal Enclosure must wear hats. This tradition was adopted at other horse racing events, such as the Kentucky Derby in the United States.
The cowboy hat is a high-crowned, wide-brimmed hat best known as the defining piece of attire for the North American cowboy. Today it is worn by many people, and is particularly associated with ranch workers in the western and southern United States, western Canada and northern Mexico, with many country, regional Mexican and sertanejo music performers, and with participants in the North American rodeo circuit. It is recognized around the world as part of Old West apparel.
The baseball cap is so ubiquitous in American culture that it could be called America’s national hat. Made up of a soft cap and stiff visor, it is typically adjustable at the back thanks to a plastic, Velcro or elastic band. The baseball style of cap derived from earlier brimmed hats popular in the late 19th century, including deerstalkers popularised by the illustrations of Sherlock Holmes, jockey caps, military “pillbox” caps, fedoras and boaters. The earliest baseballs caps were made of wool with a leather bill and were worn exclusively by baseball players in the mid-to-late-19th century. As the 20th century dawned, the headgear moved off the field and into everyday wardrobes.
Extravagant hats were popular in the 1980s, and in the early 21st century, flamboyant hats made a comeback, with a new wave of competitive young milliners designing creations that include turban caps, trompe-l’œil-effect felt hats and tall headpieces made of human hair. Some new hat collections have been described as “wearable sculpture”.
One of the most famous London hatters is James Lock & Co. of St James’s Street. The shop claims to be the oldest operating hat shop in the world.
Valued at $2.7 million, The Chapeau d‘Amour, is currently the most expensive hat ever created. Made of woven platinum and covered in stunning diamonds, the hat was inspired by ivy and bluebells.
Roger Buckey Legried (USA) has a collection of 100,336 different hats from all over the world, as of 2 March 2010, that he has amassed since 1970. His collection has become so popular that he has had bus tours to his home. All his hats are cap shapes.
The tallest hat measures 4.8 m (15 ft 9 in), achieved by Odilon Ozare (USA) in Tampa, Florida, USA, on 2 April 2018.
The most people wearing Cat in the Hat hats is 1,223, and was achieved by Richland Elementary school (USA) in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, USA, on 9 March 2015.