Silent Movie Style: The Hats! The Hats! (Gents Edition)

I posted about women’s hats in silent film a while back and received several requests for the same coverage of men’s headgear. So, here we are!

As with the women’s edition, I will be focusing on American and European styles that were reasonably modern for their day. (No super historical hats, in other words, because that is a whole other subject.) I will also be avoiding the iconic boaters, bowlers and pork pie hats belonging to comedians as this post is more about general style. This pictorial post is by no means exhaustive, just a few highlights for you to enjoy.

Let’s get started!

The silk top hat is a swanky bit of old school class and John Barrymore absolutely slays whenever he wears one. Here he is in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde with his full formal regalia. (The film is technically historical but how could I leave out Barrymore in a top hat?)

Read my review here.

Now we’ll abruptly shift gears to appreciate Hobart Bosworth’s captain’s cap. Bosworth specialized in nautical films (he claimed to have had a stint on a whaling ship in his youth) and he wears it well. This is from Below the Surface, a deep sea potboiler with some of the finest underwater corpses you’ll see this side of Night of the Hunter.

Read my review here.

Fur caps two ways! This is from Chess Fever, in which a policeman and a fugitive find themselves addicted to a tiny magnetic chess set. Given the cold and dreary winter in my part of California, I think I would like to borrow one or both of these hats.

Read my review here.

A pre-fame, pre-mustache John Gilbert is just a little peeved in The Busher. He’s also wearing a VERY puffy cloth cap.

Read my review here.

Richard Arlen is rocking the heck out of that fedora and giving off a very Indiana Jones vibe. This is from Feel My Pulse, a Bebe Daniels bootlegger/hypochondria comedy (just go with it).

Read my review here.

This post wouldn’t be complete without something in straw and here is Igor Ilyinsky in the 1926 Soviet serial Miss Mend. Ilyinsky plays an American clerk who finds more adventure than he bargained for when he ends up saving communism from a capitalist plot. (Told you it was Soviet.)

Read my review here.

10 Replies to “Silent Movie Style: The Hats! The Hats! (Gents Edition)”

  1. Great article, and Yes, I love hats. I have owned Fedoras for years. After your article on National Flapper Day and some of the fashion shots, I got myself a couple of Flat Caps. But these types of hats are hard to find. I am in no way affiliated (just a customer), and hope this is not breaking any site rules, but a great place to find quality “old style” hats is

    1. Yes, I’ve purchased pith helmets from the Village Hat Shop in the past and they are fantastic! If you’re ever near San Diego, be sure to hit their brick and mortar location.

      PS Occasionally posting helpful links is quite okay.

  2. Thank you, Fritzi. That was a nice survey of hats. I have a Stetson and a straw hat and a few others, but I get a lot of mileage out of my Giants hats. I will share a link on the Facebook group I Love Vintage Men’s Hats (pre-1960) !!!.

  3. There is something about a top hat that some men can wear so well, like Fred Astaire but others can’t pull it off. If I saw my hubby in one, I think I would laugh out loud. Now, I love a fedora and Richard Arlen pulls it off well. I wish hats would come back in style.

  4. Indiana Jones is the first thing I thought of when I saw the Richard Arlen GIF, I love that fedora!

    1. Yes, some hats are just so entwined with a character that there’s no separating them. Though I suppose I could have posted some GIFs of The Copper Beeches. Holmes wears a felt hat, I believe, and that film’s always great for a laugh.

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