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The history of the Gangster Hat

The good, the bad and the ugly; gangsters come in all shapes and sizes. They use disguises when breaking the law and a strong image in their gangs to set them apart from others in the group. Hats give villains a degree of anonymity in a crowd. A brim tipped, a crown pulled over and an image that hide their identity.

Hats give villains a degree of anonymity in a crowd.

Certain notorious characters wore particular hats and made their names with an individualised look. The infamous Al Capone wore a large black fedora with a white petersham band. He portrayed a smart clean image but got the name ‘Scarface’ when badly cut in a flight. His violent behaviour while carrying out unlawful crimes gave his name to fear of dread to his enemies and rival gangs.

Barnes known as ‘Machine Gun Kelly’ favoured a white fedora, which would definitely be called a gangster hat on his head. Bank robbery, bootlegging, kidnapping and the call for ransom in a violent way were all used to obtain illegal monies. He was not very good at this and got caught and was sent to prison.

A gangster duo, Bonnie and Clyde robbed banks across the country leaving a bloody trail. They lived off their ill gotten gains for a few years and finally got caught in a fierce gun battle resulting in a grim dermis for them both. Death came quickly in this blood bath, targeted in a tan gangster fedora, there was no escape for Clyde.

... targeted in a tan gangster fedora...

More gangs like the Peaky Blinders chose a cap that has become synonymous with this Birmingham gang, back in their day. More recent gangsters, like the Kray Twins followed the same pattern. Violence and disregard for human life. Ill gotten gains were the goals.

All styles have been worn by gangsters. But the large brimmed fedora is currently the most popular style with our fashionistas. Bright colours offer a framing for the face and a striking image. No guns involved now, just the opportunity to be ‘shot’ by the press and a memorable image portrayed for eternity!

... ‘shot’ by the press...


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