Follow TV Tropes


Useful Notes / Hat Shop

Go To

"No one knew better than Granny Weatherwax that hats were important. They weren't just clothing, hats defined the head. They defined who you were. No one had ever heard of a wizard without a pointy hat — at least, no wizard worth speaking of. And you certainly never heard of a witch without one... Hats had power. Hats were important."

Hats have connotations. Especially nice ones. Check out this page if you're looking to give your character a little extra something to make them stick out in the mind of your audience.


Hat Etiquette

But first, be aware that there are rules that you should follow, at least for stories set in the West. If your character is male, and his hat is a general purpose, normal-weather item and not part of their uniform (or a character quirk), and especially if you're striving for period-accuracy, you should know when they should and shouldn't have it on.
  1. A hat is always worn outdoors.
    1. However, a hat must always be taken off when stopping and speaking with a lady.
    2. Likewise, unless it's part of a uniform, it should be removed when a national anthem is being played, except as a show of protest/bad manners.
  2. A hat is not generally worn indoors.
    1. However, it may be kept on in an indoor public space, such as a a store, as long as your character doesn't work there. If the space transitions from "public" (hotel lobby) to "private" (corridor on a room floor), one is expected to remove one's hat at that time.
    2. If they do work there, then it's acceptable to wear an outdoor hat until they reach the place where they'd normally take off their coat.
    3. Soldiers and armed constables were expected to keep hats on if they were 'under arms'
    4. A hat is removed in an elevator, except when it's too crowded to reasonably do so.
    5. A hat is always removed in a restaurant, because it's bad manners to sit down to eat with a hat when indoors. (Picnics and cookouts are OK.)
    6. The "remove your hat to show respect" rule is specific to Western-European-derived etiquette, however. In many other cultures (eg, Middle Eastern), keeping one's head or hair covered is considered more respectful (humble, modest, etc). This difference is most visible in connection with religions other than Christianity, many of which either require their adherents to wear hats at all times, or require all visitors to the place of worship to cover their heads.
  3. One tips one's hat to show appreciation, or to greet someone else on the street. For strangers and acquaintances of lower status, this is generally a small nod while lightly gripping the brim with the tips of the thumb and first couple of fingers. For close friends and acquaintances of higher status, one also doffs one's hat; generally, this means raising it just off the head and putting it back down, via the brim if it's stiff (as on a top hat or bowler), or the crown if it's not (as on a fedora). The gesture is increasingly exaggerated as the level of gratitude or the status of the other person rises, but beware of taking it too far: if anyone who isn't hired help makes a show of removing their hat in a big arc and bowing deeply, they're just being affectatious.
  4. Properly, one should not wear a felt hat after Straw Hat Day, the day when everyone switches from felt to straw hats, often in unison. The exact date varies regionally, with many regional populations believing that the day has been federally fixed at May 15, but other areas always use a certain day of the week, and other areas prefer dates as early as April. Similarly, a straw hat should not be worn after mid-September. The only constant for the dates is that felt hats are never worn between Memorial and Labor Day. note 
    • Cowboy hats are an exception to the rule, being particularly intended for summer use.
  5. These rules may be freely ignored for the sake of Rule of Cool, as they always have been in fiction. And as noted above, always remember that like most rules humans come up with, ones involving etiquette are not universal.

Hat Size

Nothing points you out as a hat neophyte as using such terms as "small," "medium" and "large." Better-quality hats tend to be sized according to a more precise system that varies by country.
  • U.S. sizing is calculated by dividing the head circumference (in inches) by pi, then rounding up to the nearest eighth.
    • UK sizing is calculated the same way as U.S. sizing, but subtracting an eighth from the final result. A U.S. 7 3/8 (the most common hat size for men) is a UK 7 1/4. This puts the hypothetical "size 0" at a head circumference greater than zero (a.k.a. "no head"), akin to the U.S./UK differences in floor numbers and shoe sizes; practically speaking, however, it just creates headaches for people who buy things on Internet auctions.
  • European sizing is the simplest system, based on the wearer's head circumference (in centimeters) rounded up to the nearest centimeter. This makes it something of a "universal" for modern hat sizing (such as the market is, these days). This system technically makes each size slightly larger than its U.S./UK counterpart, but they're usually adjusted to match in dimensions. A U.S. 7 3/8 is a size 59 in this system.
  • Advertisement:
  • Italian hats are often sized in "punti," whose method of calculation is based on arcane, dark arts lost to the ages (read: I don't speak Italian and searches of English-language web pages turn up nothing). It appears to have some correlation to crown height as well as head circumference, but an Italian-speaking troper will need to chime in on this one.
Note also that a hat usually shouldn't sit on the ears; if it does, then it's too large, unless it's meant to cover them by design (e.g. for cold weather). A properly-fitted hat (lightly) grips the head itself just above the ears, without sliding down of its own accord.

But with that out of the way, let's get on to the hats themselves:

Kinds of hats

  • Balaclava aka ski mask: Some sort of criminal; especially bank robbers, people who rob convenience stores, or terrorists.
    • Much more rarely, skiiers.
    • Or spies.
  • A Bandana or kerchief, a big square cloth tied around the head, can say a number of things depending on how it's oriented:
    • Horizontally around head (bandana): Pirate, gang member, law-abiding teenager trying to look like a gang member, Antoine Dodson, or Solid Snake.
    • Also cancer patient on chemotherapy.
    • If it's a Hachimaki and you're in The West, you're a karate apprentice.
    • Worn on top of the head going back from the hairline and tied under the chin or at the nape of the neck (kerchief) indicates a working woman, farm girl, or other female doing manual labor. If in more villainous or anti-heroic hands, then they are worn (often covering the mouth and/or nose) by thieves and bandits.
    • RED kerchief tied under the chin (1920s Russia): this woman is a commissar, a chekist or otherwise aligned with Bolshevism.
    • Kerchief tied under the nose: old-timey Japanese burglar. Looks as ridiculous as it sounds.
  • Wearing a Baseball cap tells people that you're adventurous, heroic, slick, and an all-around cool guy, or that you want them to think of you that way — the latter especially if you wear it backwards. The wearer of the baseball cap is usually either the good-hearted leader of the group or a Jerk Jock.
    • In a Lady Land or one full of ambiguously-gendered persons, they're probably male.
    • If worn by a tertiary character, it means that the writers were not confident enough to trust that they could establish the character's place of origin without a regional symbol on his forehead.
    • Trucker hats, logo baseball caps with a plastic mesh back, are worn by — surprise — truckers, but also farmers, and hipsters wearing them "ironically."
    • If the cap is navy blue and has a ship on it, it means someone is either in or connected to the U.S. Navy.
    • Often associated with chavs in the UK.
    • Females often wear baseball caps as one of the identifications that they're tomboys.
    • Turn it sideways = gang-member, douchebag.
      • Turn it inside out and either backwards or sideways: The same as above, but with a greater degree of the latter unless the writers are Totally Radical.
    • They're also frequently worn as part of the uniform for a Janitor Impersonation Infiltration or Delivery Guy Infiltration.
    • They're also used by, y'know, baseball players.
  • Bearskins, those tall, fuzzy headdresses, say British Royal Guards. Expect wearers to be stern and diligent, or uncomfortable wearing a cat on their heads if played for humor. Sometimes mistakenly called shakos (the hat that largely replaced them as combat wear) or conflated with miter-caps (the hat that preceded them). For period works, says grenadiers.
  • A Beret says military, French or both. Also for artists and Beatniks, Che Guevara, Osamu Tezuka, and Jamie Hyneman. Larger, plainer berets have a civilian connotation while military ones are usually smaller, with a sweatband and often an emblem attached to one side.
  • The Bergmütze ("mountain cap"), a cross between a kepi and a hunting cap, has been (and still is) used by militaries (as well as fire brigades, police forces, mountain rescue services, rangers, etc.) all around the Alps (Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Italy), and to a lesser extent in Scandinavia and Finland. Usually features a short skirt which is tucked upwards with a button at the front, but can be used as ear cover. Edelweiss badges are optional, but popular. Whoever wears this cap in Hollywood is either a Nazi, Nazi-aligned, an Austro-Hungarian soldier struggling through WW1 or a badass German Cold War soldier. Though originally designed for Austrian-Hungarian soldiers in the 1800s, it has also achieved some popularity with civilian mountaineers, like so many other things. It was also standard military wear for the National Revolutionary Army of the Kuomintang party that formerly ruled China, whose soldiers wore the hat as standard combat headgear, most famously when fighting the Japanese.
  • A Bicorne or bicorner hat (two-cornered cocked hat) says "I'm fighting Napoleon!" or "I'm a Pirate-hunting Admiral in Queen Victoria's Navy!" But despite what the paintings would have you believe, these hats were usually carried rather than worn, which is why the French name for them is chapeau bras, or "arm hat."
    • A specific style of bicorne (large and worn "athwart" rather than "fore-and-aft"): "I am Napoleon!"note 
  • A straw Boater or skimmer, with flat crown and brim, says "barbershop quartet member" or "Venetian gondolier" (it's called a boater for a reason). Accessorize with a brightly-colored blazer or striped shirt, respectively. If you actually wear one, it's the summer equivalent to the homburg.
    • In the early 20th century, associated particularly with the U.S.A., where it's often shown being worn at political conventions. The classic look for a summertime convention, fair, etc. is a seersucker suit accessorized with a straw boater, bow tie and white buc shoes.
    • Worn by butchers in England, with bow tie, striped shirt, and apron.
    • Also English schoolboys, more so than the girls; historically they were part of school uniform and still are in some of the stuffier private schools. This is true in the U.S. to some degree, albeit with varying degrees of seriousness (for instance Princeton's marching band has worn boaters as part of its uniform since the 1950s, but mostly as a laugh).
    • On TV or in movies, particularly 1940s or 1950s flicks, a boater indicated naïveté or a hick in the big city.
  • In America, a women's Bonnet worn in the 20th century or later tends to indicate Amish, with the associated stereotypes. If the story is set prior to then, it doesn't really mean anything.
    • A similar bonnet is part of stereotypical baby clothing, often combined with a diaper or onesie whenever an adult needs a baby costume.
  • Boonie hat, aka bush hat: A bit like a cloth sun hat, but with a brim of more moderate width. Its wearer is a modern-day, rough-and-ready outdoorsman/woman, hunter, fisher, explorer, etc. wherever it's blazing hot out. Used by several militaries as hot-weather combat gear.
  • Bowler/Derby: Was once the headgear of choice for the hardworking English businessman or government minister, but now is usually worn only for comic (but still classical) effect. Characters who wear them are usually good-humored, tricky, and/or odd/quirky, yet with an air of class about them, but they're also often used for completely comedic characters as well. A green bowler is used occasionally as the Irish hat of choice.
    • In The Wild West, the man wearing the derby is a City Slicker Easterner who's either completely out of his element or looking to take people's money. Or both. In reality, the derby was the single most common hat for all sorts of men for most of the Old West period. Like the top hat, it rose in social class and formality, but back in the day, even some cowboys wore them on the job.
    • In Victorian London through Gangsterland, the helmet-like characteristics of the bowler (designed for riders, as the previously popular top hats, unlike the bowler, were easily knocked off by branches, could not survive being trod on by a horse, and offered no protection for a falling rider) made it incredibly popular among those who expect blows to the head. They can usually be identified by their low-quality suits, slightly oversized hats, and faces that demonstrate that the bowler only protects the top of the head (one very violent gang was called the "Plug Uglies"). It was also a favorite with Scotland Yard CID inspectors for the same reasons.
    • Note the recent Bradford and Bingley ads with a woman wearing a bowler.
    • It can also mean you're a steampunk genetic engineer in World War I Britain.
  • Bucket hat: A must for any fishing trip. Bonus points if there are fishing lures stuck into the crown for easy access. Used constantly instead of just for fishing, this style of hat can become an iconic part of the character. For example, Gilligan or Kisuke Urahara. Or Hunter S. Thompson (when he's not sporting his natural crown). Or Lt. Provenza at a crime scene. But not Buckethead.
    • The bucket hat is Irish in origin and was adopted by the upper-class English. It is part of the Irish national costume.
    • Sean Connery's character, Henry Jones, Sr., wears a bucket hat in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.
    • It is called a Reni hat in the UK because The Stone Roses drummer "Reni" (Alan Wren) would often wear one and could be recognized by it.
    • In Australia, an army hat somewhere between a bucket and a boonie hat (see above) in appearance is called a giggle hat.
    • In South Africa it is called ispoti and is popular with black youth for connoting street wisdom without copying foreign hip-hop cultures.
    • In Israel it's known as a Rafael hat because of Rafael Eitan, a general and politician. A slightly more conical and narrow-brimmed version, the kova tembel (lit. "stupid hat" or "lazy hat") was common until the 1970s, and is still worn by Israel's national personification, Srulik.
    • In Sweden it is called a Beppehatt or Beppemössa after artist and author Beppe Wolgers, who made it popular in the 1970s.
    • The U.S. Navy wears a similar hat (but usually with the brim turned up) for enlisted service dress uniforms called a Dixie Cup hat, after the manufacturer.
    • Glider pilots also favor this hat because it allows protection from the shade without being so wide as to cut off their vision.
  • A Budenovka (a kind of kepi with a pointed top) says Russian Civil War, particularly the Reds (the Whites went for the garden-variety peaked cap). But some time before, in the days of the Cold War, it could mean just Russia, just like the ear-flap cap.
  • Bycoket (a.k.a. "Robin Hood hat"): You are Robin Hood (or inspired by him a la Green Arrow). Or Peter Pan.
  • Campaign hat: In the modern era, most commonly associated with drill instructors (more likely than not played by R. Lee Ermey). Also associated with Boy Scouts, Mounties in their dress uniforms (which are their only uniforms in fiction), park rangers, state troopers, and Smokey the Bear.
    • Connotation of wearing this hat is that the character is disciplined to a fault and will happily but angrily inflict that discipline on anyone and everyone in the vicinity who does not meet the organization's standards. Such infliction is a hair's breadth away from Large Ham status, missing the mark solely for lack of showmanship. A hat of this type atop a female's head is a very strong indication of a Tsundere tsuntsun personality type, with no deredere in sight, unless one of the trainees is in danger.
    • If the campaign hat you're wearing happens to be oversized, then you're Pharrell Williams.
  • Capotain, aka pilgrim hat, a traffic cone-shaped black hat: 16th- or 17th-century Puritan. Often, inaccurately, depicted with a silver buckle attached to the front.
  • A Chef hat (more properly, toque blanche) means you know your way around the kitchen, and you've got the credentials to prove it. Your record for serving up culinary masterpieces is as spotless as your white tunic. What's that, you say? Your apron is covered in grease and sweat stains? Then you're probably a short-order cook serving up concoctions best avoided by the living. But at the very least, your hat shows that you're the boss in this here kitchen.
    • The style of the hat can have different connotations; a hat with a vertical, column-like top indicates that the wearer is a Supreme Chef at an expensive restaurant, while a chef wearing one with a floppy top is likely to be employed in a more informal location like a diner or pizzeria.
  • Cloche hat: You're a flapper. Or at least a young woman in the Roaring Twenties.
  • Conical straw hat: Peasant in Southeast Asia or China (leading to the formerly-prevalent term "Coolie hat"). Like the fez, a generic foreign hat and mostly used in jest these days, unless the wearer is a Buddhist monk or religious pilgrim.
    • A version made of metal or hardened leather called jingasa ("war hat") was worn by samurai and pre-20th century Japanese infantry on campaign.
    • Gondoliers in The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind wear these for some reason. Possibly easier to program than a boater?
  • Coonskin cap: A roundish fur hat with a raccoon tail dangling from the back. While versions actually were worn in pioneer days, it was the Disney Davy Crockett television series which made it into a pop-culture symbol equaling "old-timey Mountain Man/frontier trapper." Thanks to the Crockett craze, having a kid wearing one of these establishes a setting as 1950s America.
  • Cowboy hat: In the The Western, everyone important, color coded. In the modern era, Texans, or cowboy wannabes in any other state. Or even actual cowboys. Usually the sides are "rolled" upwards. Modern joke says this is so three cowboys can sit in the cab of a pickup truck (with no back seat). If only one side of the hat is rolled or one side is pinned, it's probably not a cowboy hat, but rather a slouch hat (worn by a jackaroo instead of a buckaroo).
    • Sometimes referred to as a Stetson, though that's strictly the name of an American company that also produces other kinds of hats (e.g. some rather spiffing fedoras).
    • The jackaroo in the Outback does not wear a Stetson, he wears an Akubra as that's the name of the Australian hat company which owns the license rights to the Stetson design for manufacture and sale within Australia. Yahtzee wears a hat made by Akubra.
    • Prominent amongst Mexicans and Mexican-Americans as a sign of their ranchero roots. Suberte.
    • A particular large and/or tall version is sometimes called a ten-gallon hat, though even the biggest of them cannot hold that much; the name likely has Spanish roots. As you might imagine, the fictional wearer of a ten-gallon hat is likely to be an over-the-top Western caricature, e.g. the Rich Texan on The Simpsons.
  • A Custodian helmet screams British Coppers, but be careful — only men, and only uniformed police outside of Scotland wear it for the most part. Most female officers wear chequered "bowler" hats but — as the next sub-point details — some do not. Originally, it was made of cork, covered with navy felt, but after 1980, the inner construction was changed to a lightweight hard-wearing plastic material (like a hard hat), and had some padding and an extra riot chin strip added (the original cork did little to protect against thrown missiles, although it certainly protected from being hit over the head). It usually features a helmet plate that shows the respective police service/constabulary's coat of arms at its front (which is usually the Brunswick Star).
    • Here's a very little-known fact about the custodian helmet: one British police force actually issues it to female officers on some occasions. Staffordshire Police — precisely one of 43 British police forces — is known to issue the helmets to women for "public order" duties at football matches, protests and the like. This has been confirmed by numerous members of the force on various online forums.
    • Furthermore, female officers serving in Kent and South Yorkshire are known to be given flat caps instead.
  • The Deerstalker is a tweed cap with a visor in both the front and the back, and earflaps that tie together over the crown. Despite its name, however, almost the only person who will ever get to wear this hat is Sherlock Holmes. (Actual deer hunters should wear a proper hunting cap, lest they stumble across the scene of a murder and be called upon to use their supposed deductive abilities.) Nevertheless, be advised: if you absolutely must write Holmes fanfiction, at least display some common fashion-sense and only let the good detective wear it when he's out in the countryside. (It looks good paired with an Inverness coat.)
  • Fedora: An essential for any hardnosed Private Detective or mafioso, the fedora is a symbol of the noir era. Characters who wear fedoras on the good guy side are usually investigative, gruff and sneaky, while the bad guys wear loud, double-breasted suits, and are prone to Delusions of Eloquence. Outside the city, a popular accessory for the Adventurer Archaeologist. It wasn't used much for a while, except as a Homage to the old days. However, it has enjoyed a lot of popularity in more recent years; many actors, music artists, and other celebrities are fond of wearing them. Sadly, they've also lately acquired a stigma due to being mistaken as the headwear of choice among some rather high-profile misogynists, a dubious honor actually belonging to the trilby. An amusing Irony, as the fedora was originally designed to be a hat for ladies, not gents.
  • The Fez, a stock foreign hat, tells the audience that you're from somewhere in the East. It doesn't matter where — it could be anywhere except Japan. This hat is almost always used for the stock foreigner, but nowadays the trope is so dead that it's squarely in the parody zone. Except on Shriners. Or the Doctor.
  • The Flat cap, also called an ivy cap, says "honest working man" from Victorian London to The '50s (and beyond, when it says "honest working man who grew up in The '50s or earlier"). Particularly common Oop North and in Oireland, where they're invariably made of tweed.
    • In the U.S., they mostly say "cab driver" or "hipster college student."
    • They can also mean Brian Johnson.
    • Or Russian street ganger.
    • Their other (now archaic) meaning is that the wearer works at a golf course as a caddy. Modern caddies wear baseball caps or sun hats instead.
  • A Greek fisherman's cap (aka mariner's, skipper, fiddler, Lenin or Dutch boy cap) has the same older blue-collar associations as the flat cap, except that the wearer's job is more likely (but not necessarily) a maritime one.
    • You don't need to be Greek to wear this hat, but an old Greek man very likely will, as will an old Ashkenazi man like Tevye. The Ashkenazi version overlaps with the kashket (see below).
    • Add gold "scrambled egg" embroidery and you're a yacht captain, of any nationality.
    • Because of its working-class connotation, it's tended to show up in left-leaning political movements. It could indicate an Old Bolshevik like Lenin or a partisan with them, particularly if ornamented with a red star (a la Strelnikov in Doctor Zhivago). It's been sported by Mao Zedong and by Jeremy Corbyn of the UK's Labour party.
    • It may also mark you out as a biker, greaser or other rebel (a la The Wild One), especially if made of black leather.
    • In Poland, a similar cap with a plain leather visor is called a Maciejówka. Unlike the Lenin cap, it is most associated with the Polish Legions and their most famous officer, Josef Piłsudski.
    • The fisherman's cap has some overlap in both appearance and connotations with the peaked cap, but its crown is much less flared and doesn't have a wire stiffener inside, and its band is narrower. Sometimes the crown is made from wedges (in which case it may be called a spitfire cap), but it's different from a newsboy cap in that a newsboy cap has no band and its crown slumps forward onto the visor, which the fisherman cap's does not.
  • A Hairnet means your job sucks. The cool people in food service get chef hats. Worn as a fashion, it's called a snood, which is hilarious.
  • Plastic Hard hat: an engineer (white) or construction worker.
    • With a light attached to the front: a miner or a spelunker.
  • Headscarf or veil: Muslim woman. In other eras, any Middle-Eastern or South Asian woman, regardless of religion. Overlaps with the working-class woman's kerchief (see above).
    • Also usually seen on female saints in religious icons — sometimes overlapping with the above because, of course, many famous Christian figures such as the Virgin Mary were Middle-Easterners.
    • A veil draped and pinned over a head-and-neck covering called a coif is one and the same with Hollywood Nuns.
    • A draped veil in a sheer, lacy or netting fabric means one of two things:
    • Not to be confused with a face-concealing veil. The geographic connotations may overlap, but a headscarf with or without a face veil tends to just mean a religious Muslim woman, while a face veil worn on its own in fiction is generally given to the Belly Dancer or Bedlah Babe.
  • Hennin: The modern name for a tall, cone-shaped hat (see pointy hat, below) like a Wizard Hat, only with a more or less elaborate veil attached to the top. Universally associated with ladies in The Middle Ages, though actually worn only for about 50 years at the end of The Late Middle Ages.
  • Homburg: A stiff felt hat that strikes a nice balance between the staid (and silly-looking) bowler and the softer trilby and fedora. Has a hard, curled brim like the bowler, but a lengthwise crease in the crown like the latter two (though usually not pinched in front). A common sight on the head of mid-20th-century politicians such as Winston Churchill, Konrad Adenauer, and Anthony Eden, it has also come to be identified with The Mafia, leading to the nickname "Godfather hat" in some circles. Usable in settings from The Edwardian Era onwards (it became popular after Edward himself copied the hunting-hat of his least-favorite nephew, Kaiser Wilhelm II), the Homburg projects class without being as ostentatious as a top hat or as silly as a bowler. For this reason, it's still the hat of choice to go with a tuxedo.
    • Interestingly, Russian-turned-American (he fled during the Bolshevik Revolution) helicopter pioneer Igor Sikorsky for the most part refused to be caught dead anywhere without wearing a black Homburg hat, even while test-piloting his own prototypes for their first EVER flights.
  • Hunting cap: A thick, flannel (and often fur-lined) cap that resembles a baseball cap, but with earflaps that can be tied over the crown when not in use. Usually seen in bright-colored plaids, which help them stand out in the woods where there can be multiple people with guns ready to shoot at even the slightest hint of movement. As the name suggests, it is best suited to hunters dressed in an incongruous combination of camouflage fatigues and a safety-orange vest. (A deerstalker with matching Inverness coat is a great way to get mistaken for a deer and end up strapped to the hood of someone's car.)
    • Those of a literary bent, however, might associate it with a certain medievalist buffoon from New Orleans.
    • Also popular among the general public in cold climates (a la Kyle on South Park). Hunting hats for warm weather are usually just baseball caps or boonie hats in earth tones/camo, with or without some brightly-colored elements for safety.
  • Jester hat aka cap and bells: A violently-colored hat with three or, originally, two large floppy points (two points represent an ass' ears; the third point is said to represent its tail, despite curving forward). The points are often tipped with bells, and occasionally the hat is topped with a cock's-comb. When worn in Real Life it screams "I'm a fool!" (or "I'm a stoner!") but may denote Obfuscating Stupidity.
  • The Kepi is a must for any self-respecting gendarme or member of the French Foreign Legion. Charles de Gaulle managed to be seen in one and still be taken seriously, but they tend to be given over to parody nowadays. (See, for example, the Steve Martin incarnation of The Pink Panther.)
    • Also seen on the heads of old-fashioned chauffeurs, train, streetcar and hotel staff, though in these cases it's often more flared on the top, crossing over with a peaked cap.
    • A soft form of kepi called a forage cap is also associated with the American Civil War and is the ancestor of the baseball cap (returned Civil War soldiers would play in their uniform hats to keep the sun out of their eyes).
  • Metal helmets in general: a warrior, ranging from a modern soldier to a Medieval/fantasy berserker.
    • With horns: a Viking or an opera singer. (Although neither real Vikings nor real opera singers ever wore them.)
    • With wings: a Valkyrie or an opera singer playing a Valkyrie, or a Celtic warrior. Or a dragoon.
    • With a crest: an officer in an ancient Roman or Greek army, or in a fantasy setting based on those cultures.
      • The late Archaic/Classical-period Corinthian helmet is de rigeur for Greek warriors, even if the wearer is a mythical hero from the Bronze Agenote .
      • The Attic helmet, derived from the Corinthian but with a more open face, started as a common Greek soldier's helmet. But in media, you usually see the type with lots of embossed decoration and possibly a fluffy crest made of feathers, which unmistakably spells "high-ranking Roman officer."
      • Just as unmistakably, the Imperial Gallic or Italic types can only signify a Roman soldier of centurion rank or below. Their Gaulish prototypes (which had plumes rather than crests) are less iconic today.
    • With a visor and a plumenote : a Medieval knight.
      • To make your knight look particularly imposing, give him a Great helm.
    • If tall and "onion"-shaped: a Near Eastern soldier from Biblical times to the Ottoman and Safavid empires.
      • An onion helmet with fur around the lower crown indicates a Mongolian or other Central Asian horseback warrior.
    • Kabuto: No self-respecting Samurai would go into battle without one. Ornamentation can range from the strictly utilitarian to the ridiculously unwieldy, depending on social status and time period.
    • Kettle hat or chapel de fer: A Medieval foot soldier. Or a British foot soldier from either one of the World Wars.
      • When the brim swoops up to a point in front and back and the crown has a ridge, it's called a morion and tends to mean the wearer is a Spanish conquistador in the Americas, even though it was actually popular across Europe in its time.
  • The Miter (or mitre for Commonwealthers and pretentious Americans) is that hat now usually shaped like a spade or Gothic arch, symbolizing bishops and abbots (less commonly, abbessess) in Anglican, Eastern Orthodox, Eastern Catholic, some Lutheran, Oriental Orthodox, and Roman Catholic Churches. (Formerly the hat was worn with the "horns" on both sides, but somewhere around 1100 it was turned sideways, giving the version familiar today. The original sideways version can be seen in the Imperial Crown of Austria.)
  • A Mortarboard says, "I'm graduating!" But don't assume that academic dress is the same everywhere. Do your homework.
  • The Newsboy cap is similar to the flat cap, but with a longer brim and a poofier crown made from pie-like wedges that come to a single point on top. As the name suggests, it says "turn-of-the-century newspaper-seller," or occasionally "golfer wearing too much plaid."
  • Overseas Cap/Garrison Cover/Wedge Cap/Schiffchen/Pilotka: If part of a civilian outfit, the wearer is in a low-end service sector job; either a Burger Fool, a food cart owner (especially if the food cart is selling hot dogs), a soda jerk, or a gas station attendant. Sometimes, someone in a more "prestigious" position, like a diner owner, butcher, or short-order cook, might wear one. Those worn in the food industry are often made of white paper or cardboard, and disposeable. If someone in the military wears it, they're often either a low-ranking enlisted man, NCO, or an Ace Pilot (who often favored this cap as it could easily be folded and stored in a pocket or behind a belt when wearing a flying helmet, and because it didn't have a visor it didn't interfere with their vision). If they're a high-ranking officer but wear this cap instead of a peaked cap as part of their uniform, it means that they haven't lost touch with the common soldier.
  • Panama hats (made of straw with a very fine weave) in any significant number mean you're somewhere in the tropics. Or you want to be. Or you're Hannibal Lecter, Charlie Chan, or the Fifth Doctor. Can be combined with a Hawaiian shirt or light-colored suit for extra effect. In British works, stereotypical headgear for The Vicar.
    • And if its brim is turned down, it's probably Santos Dumont. Or an impersonator.
  • The Peaked cap, aka visor cap or combination cap, has several related meanings, according to the Hollywood Dress Code.
    • Dark brown, blue or black says military or public safety (police, security guards, firefighters in dress uniform, etc.). Usually has minimal amounts of "scrambled eggs," decorative gold-colored cords on various areasnote . White variations either imply police in tropical areas or officers in U.S./Commonwealth navies.
      • The more flat peaked cap in one of these colors, or in white, suggests the wearer could be in a private-sector occupation such as a commercial airline pilot. Old-fashioned chauffeur, train, streetcar and hotel uniforms sometimes include peaked caps, or smaller ones that blur the line between these and kepis.
      • A cap whose sides are made by folding down and stitching sections of the top, giving it a polygonal rather than round shape, is strongly associated with American police (though they aren't the only ones to wear it). Eight sections is common, thus it's often called an eight-point capnote .
    • In the States, a crush cap (also crushed or crusher), a peaked cap with the internal stiffener removed to let you clamp a pair of headphones over it, signifies a USAAF pilot. It was also worn by German tank and U-boat crews.
    • The larger, higher peaked cap (in a rather consistent shade of khaki throughout all points south of the Rio Grande) says Banana Republic military or police. This is where the scrambled eggs get piled on as much as possible.
    • The largest, black-and-silver peaked cap is Putting on the Reich. Notably free of scrambled eggs.
    • And someone wearing a black leather peaked cap is either a Red Commissar (if the cap has a Soviet badge) or a big fan of BDSM (if it doesn't), or in some countries it could mean that they're a train driver, especially when steam engines were still in use (unlike a fabric top, the leather top wouldn't get burned by sparks from the engine's fire, or stained by grease or oil).
      • It's often thought that Soviet peaked caps had enormously wide crowns on them, as well, but the giant cap is actually a Federal Russian phenomenon (1990-2010). It was hated by all personnel and called "airfield" or "Pinochet's hat". In Soviet times, it was not regulation headgear but sometimes custom-made by particularly vain officers as military chic; in 1990s it became official and earned its hatedom.
      • Going further back in history, Russian peasants and workers traditionally wore a peaked cap called a Kartuz (which overlapped with the fisherman's cap family). It tends to be ignored in Western media in favor of putting Russian civilian characters in fur hats and headscarves, but was used plentifully in e.g. Doctor Zhivago.
  • Peruvian wool hat or chullo: When worn outside the Andes this generally denotes teenage stoner or New-Age Retro Hippie.
    • In Real Life, they're also popular for sticking on babies and small children, often with cutesy cartoon character faces on the crown. Tuques with earflaps and some traditional Nepalese hats are basically the same thing as well.
    • This is the hat Craig in South Park wears.
  • The Pickelhaube is clearly Prussia. The connotations of a character wearing such a helmet includes some (but rarely all) of the following traits: honorable, ruthless, tactically astute, arrogant, gentlemanly, sexist, power-hungry, merciless about the tiniest details and inhumanly self-disciplined. Frequently accessorized with a monocle and a Dueling Scar. Examples include Coach Oleander from Psychonauts (complete with a cork on the tip of the spike for safety).
    • Other German states eventually added this to their uniform, as did countries whose military emulated Prussia/Germany (such as Sweden, Chile, and Colombia).
  • A Pillbox hat says you're a classy sharp-dressed woman in The '60s, or a bellhop.
    • A brand-new leopard skin pillbox hat, on the other hand, indicates being the subject of a Bob Dylan song from 1967.
  • Pith helmets carry the connotations of the Adventure Archaeologist, Egomaniac Hunter, Gentleman Adventurer, etc. Generally worn in either on a safari in the Savannah, jungle or desert (if it's the latter, you could also be a World War I/II soldier keeping away Those Wacky Nazis and/or their Italian allies). A narrower version known as the 'overseas service helmet', or more informally 'the Kitchener', is specific to British troops stationed in the tropics in the mid to late 19th C. Will be white in Africa (see Zulu) and khaki on the subcontinent.
  • Pointy hats are synonymous with wizards and witches, especially but not only on Discworld. A stereotypical witch hat will be plain black with a brim, while a wizard's will often lack the brim and be decorated with stars and/or astrological symbols.
    • Very much on the other hand, if you're wearing one of these along with a dopey expression, and you are sitting in a corner, it becomes a Dunce Cap, indicating extreme academical failure.
  • The Pork pie hat is similar to a trilby or a fedora but has a flat top. It's often associated with jazz musicians and similar artist types. Several Hanna-Barbera characters including Huckleberry Hound, Yogi Bear, Top Cat, Hardy Har Har and Hokey Wolf wore this headgear. In real-life, the most famous wearers of this type of hat included Manhattan Project physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer, singer/comedian Dean Martin, Chico from The Marx Brothers silent-film slapstick legend Buster Keaton, and notorious architect Frank Lloyd Wright, and jazz saxophonist Lester Young (who, following his 1959 death, was memorialized with a song composed by fellow jazzman Charles Mingus on his album Mingus Ah Um and titled "Goodbye Pork Pie Hat").
  • Propeller beanie: a nerd or geek. Was also a popular form of hazing for college freshmen, back in the day. The propeller doesn't actually allow you to fly unless you're Doraemon.
    • It's also part of Homestar Runner's sports uniform (and the MacGuffin of one book/episode), even though he's the only character to wear one.
  • A Slouch hat (heavy felt hat with a brim that can be pinned to the crown on one side) says, "I'm in the cavalry!" Or, "I'm in the Outback, mate!" (Or both.) Often called an "Akubra," though this is strictly the name of an Australian company that also makes other kinds of hats (including a facsimile of the one worn by a certain Adventurer Archaeologist).
    • Sometimes worn by Pierre Trudeau.
    • Also available with corks suspended from the brim (to keep flies off) for even more Australian flavor.
  • A Sombrero says Mexican outlaw (often from the Old West era). Commonly found South of the Border, as well as in Spexico. A smaller, flat topped version, called the sombrero cordobés or gaucho hat, is closely associated with Zorro and other Spanish-speaking aristocrats.
  • A Sou'wester is a fisherman's hat as used on boats in harsh northern seas. It is extremely waterproof, with a folded "gutter" at the front and an extended back to stop water going down the wearer's neck. The ideal headwear for a salty old seadog, and the perfect accompaniment to a Seadog Beard. For some reason, they were quite fashionable in the 1950s.
  • The Stahlhelm, used in Nazi Germany, is a popular look for Mooks working for the Fascist-esque bad guys. See, for example, the Galactic Empire or Prinicpality of Zeon.
  • Sun hat is a broad label applied to many types of wide-brimmed hats designed to, yes, protect the wearer from the sun. Overlaps with the Panama, but usually made of cloth, and with a wider brim than a bucket hat.
    • Classically worn by farmers, in which case straw construction is likely. This association dates back to ancient Greece (the conical straw hat, above, originated for the same purpose).
    • A woman in a particularly big and floppy one, carrying a trowel or similar tool, equals "hardcore gardening enthusiast."
    • Paired instead with a long flowing dress, she becomes a fashion-plate/trophy wife, or something far more sinister.
    • A older heavyset man wearing a large, gaudy and/or tasteless sunhat can be shorthand for "tourist, American, obnoxious."
    • "Sun hat" may also refer to summer hats, which are generally straw alternatives to felt hats (the boater is a top hat or homburg, a panama is a bowler or fedora, and a stetson is a show of poor taste).
  • A Sun visor means that you're a preppy if it's all one color and you're female, a wanna-be beach god if it's all one color other than white and you're male, a preppy wanna-be beach god if it's all-white and you're male, or an accountant/bank teller/counterfeiter/card shark/Da Editor (depending on the genre) if it's a fabric band with a translucent green bill.
  • A Tam O'Shanter, more technically called a bonnet, screams "I'm from Bonnie Scotland!" just as effectively as wearing a kilt or playing bagpipes.
    • Its common name comes from the title character of a Robert Burns poem, who wears a historical Blue bonnet. Blue was the most common color for ordinary Scots' bonnets in past centuries, as they were commonly dyed with woad.
    • The name "tam o'shanter" was originally given to a World War I-issue Balmoral bonnet, derived from the blue bonnet. Today, the tam o'shanter and balmoral are frequently considered separate styles, the latter being smaller and more ornate with more of a military association (similar to civilian versus military berets).
    • If you're a military piper or drummer on parade, though, even the balmoral is too plain. This is when the giant Feather bonnet is appropriate.
    • A hat with similar connotations is the "Glengarry", a boat-shaped cap with two ribbons on the back. Usually, bagpipers wear a solid-colored version without the checkerboard "dicing".
  • Tinfoil hats are the only real hat anyone needs. Wait, why are you looking me like that? The metal helps keep out the mind-control waves used by the government. And sometimes the aliens. You know they're working together, right? Always watching what we're doing, what we're eating... who knows what they're really planning, but you have to be prepared. I've got an emergency supply of 12 rolls in my kitchen, just in case the Feds try to move in and cut off our source of protection. Note that, unlike other hats, these should never be removed at any time, unless you want them to come for you. Those of us who know the truth about the Kennedy assassination, the Moon landing, and that mysterious cabal controlling the world's governments must do everything we can not to be caught.
    • Ironically, the tinfoil would likely act as some sort of antenna amplifying the alleged mind-control signals or otherwise serving as a lens to make it easier for the monitoring equipment to read one's mind, so this hat would do the opposite of what the wearer wants.note 
  • Top hat: An old way to tell if someone (most often, but not always a male) is rich. With overly/stereotypically wealthy garb, the top hat is a must. When these first appeared in the 1790s, they were generally made of glossy felted beaver fur; after 1800 or so, they started being made of silk, and by 1850 black silk was standard for high-end hats. Light grey felt is another, slightly less formal option for daytime wear; the HBO miniseries John Adams shows this in full display for the title character's wardrobe during the Washington administration and his own presidency.

    Historically, a top hat was not an automatic indication of wealth. Top hats were made for the low-end market, made of "lesser" materials than silk or beaver; these were called "stuff hats." By and large, "stuff hats" fell out of fashion as more practical hats became available. However, undertakers continued to wear black wool hats (like the one like David Beckham likes to wear, apparently). Funeral customs demanded that undertakers have a certain formality in attire, but they were generally not wealthy enough to afford silk or beaver, so they bought the cheaper wool instead.

    The top hat is also closely associated with stage magicians, as the roomy crown makes it a very handy prop for the classic Pull a Rabbit out of My Hat trick and its variants.

    Like the monocle, you'll never see this one unless someone is being parodied, or there's an old-style magician or mustache-twirling movie-serial villain in the crowd. (Technically, it's still the proper headwear for use with a morning coat, frock coat, or white-tie-and-tails, but these, too, appear virtually only in parody nowadays, so that anyone wearing the top hat is doing so improperly as a display of wealth, hence the image of the hat.) It goes with the Uncle Pennybags image. Noteworthy in that it is sufficiently iconic that sticking one on top of a Smiley Face is enough for most observers to consider the resulting character as a wealthy male. The opera hat is a variant with a collapsible crown (originally meant for convenient storage while at the opera), which is good for magic tricks. A battered top hat (possibly with the crown mostly detached and sticking up like a tin lid) is the headgear of choice for Victorian tramps. Battered and dusty top hats were sometimes worn by characters in Spaghetti Westerns.
    • Example: On The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, John Oliver occasionally wore a top hat, monocle, and tuxedo when he has to look demonstratively British.
    • This hat gets a lot of variation when worn by the Millennium Earl. Who just so happens to be a caricature of a Victorian Gentleman. Except he is very sinister.
    • Stove pipe hat is used as a synonym, but sometimes regarded as a separate type: more geometrically simple than the usual top hat, it has a perfectly flat brim and cylindrical crown with a flat top (may have a slightly elliptical cross-section though). Most famous wearer of this type was, in all likelihood, Abraham Lincoln.
    • In Germany (especially post-1950s), someone wearing a top hat is most likely either a chimney sweep or an apprentice tradesman.
    • In contemporary Britain, wearing one is a sign you're either a groom at a wedding or you're attending the Ascot horse races.
  • The Tricorne or tricorner hat (three-cornered cocked hat) is for pirates, swashbucklers, highwaymen, and various 18th-century European monarchs styled "the Great." Also a prerequisite for the American Revolution.
    • In the latter 18th century, the tricorne evolved into the bicorne (see above) as the front corner became shorter and more tilted-up — transitional styles would've been common during the American Revolution. When the front corner completely disappeared around 1800, the consummate bicorne was then turned 90 degrees so its remaining corners were oriented "fore-and-aft." One different connotation is that the tricorne was worn by men of many classes and occupations in its day, whereas the bicorne is most strongly associated with military officers.
    • It's also part of Canadian Supreme Court judges' outfits, but these days is usually carried, not worn.
  • The Trilby looks like a fedora, but has a lower crown and shorter "stingy" brim (though hat experts will get into heated arguments over where the dividing line between the two is, precisely). Trilbys are also often made of patterned canvas rather than felt. The trilby was often used in older stories for reporters, usually with a "PRESS" tag tucked into the band. Also, A Clockwork Orange. Or Trilby, or his writer. Also a favorite of jazz musicians and hipsters. If made of sewn fabric instead of molded felt, expect a Grumpy Old Man in a suit that was obviously bought when he was several decades younger (and several inches taller). Oft mistaken for, and sold as, a fedora; please note that many people who rail against fedoras on the grounds that they look silly or associate them with nerds and misogynists and other such grognards are actually thinking of trilbys. A good way to tell the difference: Bogie wore a fedora. Bing Crosby wore a trilby.
  • A Tudor bonnet means that you're in England during the Renaissance (specifically, the reign of the Tudors), or any play by William Shakespeare, regardless of when and where it's set. If you're in the modern day, you're probably at a university, and know far too much about far too little. You might occasionally pass on some of that knowledge in between grading papers and furthering that in-depth mastery of your sub-sub-sub-field. Or you're a female judge in the UK Supreme Court.
  • Knit caps (or, as some people call them, Tuques) indicate it's bloody cold. Or you're a skater/punk, but only from The Nineties. A bright red one could mean you're Jacques Cousteau.
    • Also known as a "Watch Cap", it can also mean you're a low-ranking sailor or blue-collar worker.
  • Turban: Another stock foreign "somewhere from the East" hat, though in this case, it's more specific: either the Middle East or India.note  Wearers in fiction often occupy an important but ultimately stereotypical/bit role; if your average superspy is in India looking for his contact, he'll be the guy wearing the turban. Another trope so dead it's only parodied outside of very specific regional variations used to denote setting.
    • Exceptions being made for Sikhs, but how many Sikhs have you seen lately on TV or films?
    • A fortune-teller or mentalist might sport a particularly gaudy version.
    • If made of satin and lightly wrapped to closely follow the contours of the head, indicates cutting-edge 1920s feminine fashion.
    • Some Southeastern Native Americans like the Cherokee began fashioning turbans out of trade cloth after European contact. If you see one in fiction, the writers either are from such a tribe or have Shown Their Work.
    • A Tagelmust or cheche, an extra-long turban wrapped around the face as well as the head, means the wearer is a Tuareg. Don't ask him to take it off.
  • A Tyrolean hat, aka Bavarian or Alpine hat, says "dedicated hiker." Or, when paired with lederhosen and suspenders, "yodeler," or, when paired with a bow and a quiverfull of arrows, Robin Hood.
  • An Ushanka (a fur hat with ear flaps) says Russia (Wikipedia has "Russian hat" as a redirect, try to find another country with a similar redirect). If there's a Soviet badge on, Reds with Rockets. It's common to want to touch a hat that sexy.
    • Curiously, a hat with a very similar design, but worn with the ear flaps down, has a completely different connotation.
    • In Russia, the ushanka with flaps down says bum or rustic old fart.
    • Ushanka made of bluish fake fur means a Russian soldier or policeman. Russia has a lot of policemen, even more soldiers, and too few fur-bearing beasts to make hats for them all.
      • Lampshaded in one of the sequels to Gorky Park when Renko notices a police officer wearing a blue ushanka and wonders what kind of animal grows blue fur.
    • It also seems to be popular in Canada and the northern United States when it's really cold outside. (Think Fargo.) These may cross over with hunting caps (see above); the main difference is an ushanka has a fur-lined front flap usually turned up, while a hunting cap may instead have a baseball cap-like visor, but the difference isn't set in stone.
    • Many police forces in the US have them as part of their winter uniform.
    • A red, checkered cap with ear flaps and a wool lining means you're a lumberjack, and possibly that you're okay.
  • Whoopee cap: A felt hat with a short brim turned up all around, cut into a jagged shape reminiscent of a crown. It's usually accessorized with pins and buttons with slogans on them. Popular among kids during the 1930s and 1940s, when they would cut up their fathers' old (and, one hopes, officially thrown-out) fedoras to make them. Most appearances in fiction died out after the 1950s, but it can be seen on characters like Jughead and Goober Pyle. The stereotypes for wearers (if they're not kids in contemporary works) are "teenage delinquent" or "Manchild", depending on age.
  • The Yarmulke, aka kippah, screams "I'm Jewish!" at the top of its lungs. But it's only worn by men, and hardly ever worn outside of a synagogue by non-Orthodox Jews. Only use if you need to make someone visibly Jewish without resorting to racial stereotypes.
    • Oddly, wearing one of these (called a Zucchetto in this context) could also mean you're the Pope or other Catholic clergy, depending on the colour. Possibly they took up the fashion to keep their tonsured heads warm.
    • Similarly, a black fedora or a Shtreimel (which looks like a big fur hockey puck), combined with curlicue sideburns and a beard, takes the Judaism Up to Eleven. (In Real Life, most people who wear hats like these are part of a specific ultra-orthodox subsect called Hasidism. Don't expect the average writer to understand this, however.)
    • Hasidic children are sometimes seen in a Kashket, aka kasket or kashkettel, which somewhat resembles a cross between a fisherman's cap and a kepi, with a very narrow, curled visor. This was formerly common among Eastern European Jews of all ages.
    • Incidentally, in Medieval Europe the traditional Jewish hat was quite different-looking: a pointed cap with a narrow brim.
  • The 19th century had a wide variety of hats and helmets, associated with different branches of the military: the Busby, the Czapka, the grenadiers' miter-cap, the Moretto, the Papakhi, the Shako, etc. Nowadays, you are most likely to see any of these on a marching band. Except the papakhi, which is still worn by Cossacks, native peoples of Caucasus and Russian colonels and generals.


How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: