Traditional Attire Group - Hats & OvercoatsHats & Overcoats

Hats are important to traditional attire, though not indispensable. They certainly add character and style to a gentleman’s ensemble, but even inveterate ‘fogies’ do not necessarily wear one. It is remarkable that a hat was well nigh compulsory for men right up to the 1940s, then usage rapidly fell away, so much so that for the last five decades it has become a rarity, except as part of a uniform. This means that a hat is much more distinctive when worn today than in previous ages, and a very appropriate item to accompany traditional attire.

Some types of hat have survived better than others. Top hats are worn at weddings, royal garden parties and similar occasions as part of a specific dress requirement - and mostly hired. The bowler hat, so long the hallmark of a ‘City Gent’ - and indeed of Englishmen generally - has now deserted even the square mile (City of London). It flares up into life again, once a year, in a miraculous resurrection on Remembrance Sunday in November, at the service at the Cenotaph, Whitehall, though for how much longer is a moot point. The trilby has, however proved amazingly resilient, even among younger hat-wearers, often in dark brown – bestowing a certain distinction upon the wearer.

For summer wear, a cream Panama is perhaps ideal, with straw boaters now confined to Henley Regatta and looking decidedly pretentious.

With tweeds, a trilby or several other styles of hat still look appropriate, and of course this is where the otherwise vulgar ‘flat cap’ comes into its own, particularly when it is also in tweed.



A warm overcoat is still a boon in our climate, and its very prominence when worn, demands that it be of a decent quality. Cashmere is ideal, but wool is certainly essential. The coat should be smart but unexceptional in appearance, a black or navy Crombie coat is a good bet, or - as a contrast - a camel-coloured covert coat with an Astrakan collar.