A good hat delivers instant character. Costume designers recognize this when they’re putting together television shows and films. The masterminds behind the HBO hit “Boardwalk Empire” took no shortcuts when it came to putting together the ensembles for the cast members. They scoured art and fashion libraries, vintage clothing shops and costume warehouses to come up with authentic looks for the characters.
Dunn, who also designed the costumes for the first episode of Mad Men, used genuine hat styles from the 1920s and 1930s to depict characters from Prohibition and Great Depression eras. Many of the hats were custom made to be accurate for the period.
In the roaring ‘20s, hats were illustrative of social class. Today, you can get away with wearing whatever looks good on your head. While the fedora is universally flattering, other Boardwalk Empire hats will make you feel just as powerful and look stylish.
Nucky Thompson’s HatsThe main character, played by Steve Buscemi, was a man who liked luxury, and his appearance showed it. He dressed flamboyantly for the time period, with colorful ties and a trademark red carnation his lapel. He topped many of his fine suits with a blue, dark brown or black homburg hat.
Although wearing one of these hats might be a bold fashion move today, it was expected in the 1920s. Thompson’s hat differed from the king of the gangster hats, the fedora, because it had a rounder crown. Still, the homburg was a decidedly high-class style.
Al Capone’s HatsThe hat played a large role in the character development of Al Capone, played by Stephen Graham. When the show began, Capone wore the traditional newsboy cap. After he had a conversation with an older man about how the brown tweed flat cap was traditionally worn by children, Capone made a transformation. After that conversation, he swapped the cap for a fedora and went full-blown gangster.
Powerful men were defined by their hats at the time. In one scene, a government agent teaches his employee how to identify mob bosses by their hats. While the employee gets completely confused, the message is clear: everyone who is anyone wears a proper hat.
Other Boardwalk Empire HatsWhen they weren’t trying to look so tough, the men of Boardwalk Empire wore straw boaters and Panama hats. Boaters were also special-occasion hats. Capone even brought a milliner to the U.S. from Panama to custom-make straw hats for him.
If you were a regular Joe, you might not dare wear a fedora. Instead, you could top your outfit with a newsboy cap, bowler or flat cap. Jimmy wore a newsboy hat in the first few seasons. It still beats your typical baseball hat.
Women were just as fashionable as the men in the 1920s. The cloche was a popular everyday option for keeping curly bobs contained and bringing out delicate facial features. As the decade wore on, brims got bigger, although women’s hats continued to be elegantly bedecked in ribbons and floral shapes.
Whether you're dressing up for a costume party or hoping to gain some edge with your fashion sense, you might want to try a hat that's inspired by the era. The flat cap and the fedora are popular menswear looks for women, as evidenced by their popularity in celebrity circles. No matter how you wear your hat, you can't go wrong if you sport it with confidence.