The straw hat or boater hat grew in popularity as a fashion accessory for men in the late nineteenth century and well into the 20th century. At first this straw hat was designated to summer holidays or summer sports; but soon it was the favorite warm weather city hat for both upper and middle class men.
Classy Vintage Hats
The boater became a good serviceable hat for when the sun beat down with full strength. Men of all classes appreciated the light, cool, comfortable qualities of a straw boater hat. Waves of boaters would be spotted at seaside outings, yachting clubs, city parks, picnics, sporting events, garden parties, and at other popular outdoor summer affairs.
In general, the boater was made of sennit or split braid straw with a straight narrow brim and finished with fine silk trimmings and a calf-leather sweatband. The ribboned hatband was most often seen in stripes.
Straw Hats for Men
In Manners for Men (1897), Mrs. C. E. Humphry informed her readers that “For a morning walk in the Park in summer the straw hat, or low hat and tweed suit, are as correct as the black coat and silk hat.” Nevertheless, to avoid a social transgression, Humphry did clarify that, “… it must be remembered that a straw hat or low hat cannot be worn with a black coat of any kind…. If he goes to a garden party in a frock-coat and straw hat, he is condemned more universally than if he had committed some crime.”
Left: A 1904 sennit braid boater finished with a navy or black silk band and a leather sweatband.
Right: A 1904 Canton or Pedal straw boater finished with fine silk trimmings and a calf leather sweatband.
Left: A 1904 Swiss or rustic straw boater in a neat and stylish shape with a plain navy or black silk band and a leather sweat.
Right: A 1904 split braid straw hat -- very light, cool and comfortable.