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.

Leonard Cohen wearing a Trilby

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 any type of 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 cultureEdit

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]

See alsoEdit


  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. ^ "Reader Question: Trilby vs. Fedora". 2011-06-27. Archived from the original on 2012-05-09. Retrieved 2018-05-17.
  4. ^ Hofler, Robert; Zarco, Cyn.; Vann, Doug (1985). Wild Style. The Next Wave in Fashion, Hair and Makeup. Simon & Schuster.
  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

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