What is a Pork Pie Hat?

If you are on the hunt for something that can easily increase your style points, look no further than the pork pie hat and discover its history, features and tips on how to choose the right one.

This is a man wearing a black button-down shirt and a black pork pie hat.
  • The Pork Pie hat was popular in the 19th century.
  • It is well known for its shallow telescope crown; it got its name because of its crown because it looks similar to Pork Pie food.

I know, right the first time you hear the name of this hat, you are probably like, what is that? Can I eat it?  Does it relate to a pig? Well, thankfully not; it is a very stylish hat that has been around for quite a long time.

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What is a Pork Pie Hat?

Both men and women can wear a Pork Pie hat; it is also known as the English pastry hat. This hat is occasionally confused with a fedora hat, but they are quite different. This hat has been popular in the fashion world since the mid-19th century. This hat is called a ‘Pork Pie’ because it looks similar to the food, pork pie, a popular British food.


The Pork Pie was very popular in the mid-19th century; its popularity peaked in the 1920s to 1940s. It was worn throughout the American Civil War in the 1830s, usually accessorized with feathers attached to a bow. It was initially worn by women who accessorized it with ribbons and feathers to look pretty.

This hat transitioned more to a man’s style in the 20th century with a few style adjustments. In a silent film in the 1920s, actor Buster Keaton wore many kinds of Pork Pie hats made of straw and felt. It was said that this hat became popular in America after they saw the English wear them; from them, they were worn throughout the world, as casual or smart wear.

In the 1930s and 1940s, the Pork Pie hat became popular again during the Great Depression. It still had the angled brims, but instead, they bent slightly higher. The dented crown could be popped up, which is why it was called ‘telescope crown’ or ‘tight telescope.’

This is a close look at a performing saxophone player wearing a pork pie hat.

Among African Americans, during this time, it became very popular as it formed part of the zoot suit, which was a style of men’s clothing then. Its popularity diminished in the 1950s, but it was still word as it was considered part of the zoot suit style; this is where this hat became connected to jazz and blues music.

During this time is was also seen on television quite a lot by actors and even cartoon characters such as Yogi Bear. This hat has become very popular in the music industry in the past few decades, specifically in jazz. It is also quite trendy in other spheres, like hipsters and TV shows such as Breaking Bad, where Walter White often wears them.

Hats Features

A distinctive feature of this hat is its telescope crown, due to its flat rounded crown that is slightly pinched with a small lip around the edges. The brim of this hat is less than 2.5 inches, and it is slightly curved at the ends of the brim around the hat.

This hat was made from felt, braided hemp, straw, linen, paper braid, wool felt, cotton, and canvas covered in silk. This hat is frequently mistaken for a fedora hat; you can tell them apart because a Pork Pie hat has a shorter crown and brim with curvier edges than the fedora.

How To Wear A Pork Pie Hat?

This is a couple in a forest during fall with the man wearing a pork pie hat.

So if you are thinking of including this stylish hat in your wardrobe, it may be helpful to know how to wear it and what to style it with first. Thankfully unlike the fedora hat, you don’t have to be concerned about this elongating your face because of its shorted crown. This hat may be useful for adding a little height to your body, although these hats may look a little funny on very short men or women. 

The nice thing about the different materials this hat comes in, as discussed above, is that it is great to wear in both summer months; the different materials also help when dressing it up or down. This hat comes in various colors, such as brown, black, grey, or charcoal, which helps when matching with different attire.

A brown can go with many outfits and occasions; this is a safe bet, whereas the black or dark blue color suits a more smart, sophisticated style. These kinds of hats like the fedora and trilby hats are normally worn with smart two- or three-piece suits, but these days it can be partnered with a more casual look as well.

You can pair the Pork Pie hat with a buttoned-down shirt, a vest, jeans, and flat shoes. Women can create a bohemian style with this hat which has become very trendy; this can be done with a short skirt and patterned nylon stockings. These hats have a history at sporting events, so they can be worn with a more casual and sometimes rustic look.

This is a stylish man wearing a scarf, sunglasses and a pork pie hat.

This includes a sports coat and odd trousers, or even a tweed or layered sweater. If you are buying a Pork Pie hat, make sure you get one made of good quality material, cheaper versions are made with that fabric stretched over a hard plastic inner lining that can damage easily from normal wear and tear.

How To Choose The Correct Size?

It is best to get a Pork Pie hat that fits correctly; it must feel comfortable, not too loose or too tight, and sit level on top of your head. It should not sit too far back on your crown or too far forward that it covered a lot of your forehead. You can also tilt this hat at a slight angle; this may add a little glamour with a very singular style.

A good way to tell the size you should get is that the hat’s brim should be at least as broad as your jawline. This hat doesn’t work for men or women with small or excessively rounded faces because the short crown will only make their faces look shorter. 

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