Bowlers were More than Mere Fashion

Learn a little history about a Steampunk staple, the Bowler hat.
Weekend at the Asylum outdoor market, Lincolnshire 2014

Hat’s Off to the Bowlers

found on The Graphics Fairy website

found on The Graphics Fairy website

As with any mention of a Stetson, Bowler should always be capitalized because it is named after a person, or in this case, persons. The brothers Thomas and William Bowlers first created the hat in 1849. Their task was to create a hat that would protect the head of Edward Coke, the brother of the second Earl of Leicester. Like many a gentleman, he pursued horseback riding and other outdoor gaming in their leisure time. He commissioned a special hat to protect him during his little outing. According to the story and to the surprise of the haberdashers, when Coke showed up to pick up the hat he stamped on it to test its strength.

In later years, the Bowler became associated with city gentlemen. The distinctive dome shape eventually beat out other men’s headgear to become the most popular in both the UK and America in the 19th century. By the 21st century, we don’t have many examples of Americans wearing them outside of costumes, but they are still required garb for many men in England. During the annual military parade, for instance, they are part of the military costume.

In Steampunk circles, it not uncommon to see women sporting a Bowler hat as well, or to see tricked out Bowlers that include goggles or other steamy adornments. Do you have any punked Bowlers to show off? Leave a link in the comments or share on this post on Facebook.

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