Leonard Cohen wearing a trilby

A trilby is a narrow-brimmed type of hat. The trilby was once viewed as the rich man's favored hat; it is sometimes called the "brown trilby" in Britain[1] and was frequently seen at the horse races.

The traditional London hat company Lock and Co. describes the trilby as having a "shorter brim which is angled down at the front and slightly turned up at the back" compared to the fedora's "wider brim which is more level". The trilby also has a slightly shorter crown than a typical fedora design.[2]


The hat's name derives from the stage adaptation of George du Maurier's 1894 novel Trilby. A hat of this style was worn in the first London production of the play, and promptly came to be called "a Trilby hat".[3] Its shape somewhat resembles the Tyrolean hat.[citation needed]

Phil Campbell with trademark trilby

Traditionally it was made from rabbit hair felt, but now is usually made from other materials, such as tweed, straw, heavyweight cotton, wool and wool/nylon blends. The hat reached its zenith of common popularity in the 1960s; the lower head clearance in American automobiles made it impractical to wear a hat with a tall crown while driving. It faded from popularity in the 1970s when men's headwear went out of fashion and men's fashion focused on highly maintained hairstyles instead.

The hat saw a resurgence in popularity in the early 1980s, when it was marketed to both men and women in an attempt to capitalise on a retro fashion trend.[4]

In popular culture

Frank Sinatra was identified with trilby hats, and there is a signature design trilby bearing his name. The reggae poet Linton Kwesi Johnson often wears a trilby during his performances. Peter Sellers as Inspector Clouseau wore a Herbert Johnson trilby in Blake Edwards's A Shot in the Dark (1964), the second of his Pink Panther series; the felt trilby gave way to a tweed one in later films. The cartoon character Inspector Gadget wears a trilby hat.[5]

In the Series 1 episode "The Think Tank" of the program Are You Being Served?, the Grace Brothers store policy is revealed to include a hierarchical order for hats male personnel wear: bowlers for departmental heads and above, homburgs for senior floor staff and trilbys or caps for junior floor staff.

See also


  1. ^ Roetzel, Bernhard (1999). Gentleman's Guide to Grooming and Style. Barnes & Noble.
  2. ^ Kilgour, Ruth Edwards (1958). A pageant of hats, ancient and modern (1 ed.). Robert M. McBride Company.
  3. ^ Parker, Richard (2021-04-27). "Trilby vs Fedora: What's The Difference?". Heritage Traditions.
  4. ^ Hofler, Robert; Zarco, Cyn (1985). Wild Style. The Next Wave in Fashion, Hair and Makeup. Simon & Schuster. ISBN 978-0-671-55470-5.
  5. ^ Roberts, Dan (2014). Famous Robots and Cyborgs: An Encyclopedia of Robots from TV, Film, Literature, Comics, Toys, and More. Simon and Schuster. p. 163. ISBN 978-1-62873-927-5. Appearance: Mac-clad, trilby-hatted private eye