Thanks to silent film actor Buster Keaton, pork pie hats for men in the 1920s became a popular item among men. During the heart of the Great Depression pork pies enjoyed their peak. It was then, and during the subsequent decades, that other popular culture figures, from architects to musicians, adopted the style of headwear.
In the mid-20th century, the men’s pork pie hat fell out of favor ever so slightly, but didn’t quite die. As decades passed the men’s pork pie hat experienced perhaps its first brush with modern fame. Robert De Niro sported a pork pie item in a 1970s flick, perhaps even introducing the style to Hollywood as we know it.
Since De Niro’s appearance under the short-crowned piece of headwear, the style for men has faded a bit into the ether. Today, its most common connotations are of the silent film and post-war eras, a tribute to a bygone time. That shouldn’t stop you from pulling one on over your outfit today, however.
In more contemporary times, a pork pie hat can add a dash of class, a touch of something special. It lets people know you’re not afraid to be different, that your sartorial tastes are cultivated for a very specific sort of appearance. These hats can make a lazy Sunday afternoon feel exotic and unexpected. They can turn an evening stroll into a night to cherish. And, maybe most of all, your new pork pie hat will be something you certainly won’t forget.
If you’re wondering where pork pie hats for men got their name, look no further than a staple of British cuisine: the pork pie. Like its namesake, pork pie hats are brimmed hats with flat crowns creased along the edges to give the appearance of, well, a savory pie fresh out of the oven. This style hat has appeared in a variety of materials, from felt to cotton and canvas. Even pork pie straw hats have made a widespread appearance.
Pork pie hats enjoy a cross-Atlantic origin story, where women in both Britain and the U.S. wore them regularly around the mid-19th century. Pork pie hats in their early iterations were often adorned with feathers or ribbons or a combination of the two, for a little ... je ne sais quois. Though the brims of pork pie hats are small–so small they’ve been known as “stingy” brims—they serve their purpose faithfully and accent the shape of the hat well.