Felt Up

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For him or her, the bowler hat comes out on top. By Christina Panas


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With flimsy fedoras and cheap tartan newsboys being peddled on every downtown street corner, the hat-devoted are already turning their heads to a new old shape—the Bowler. Originally conceived in the 1850s to supplant the British riding helmet, the Bowler instantly became a quintessential accessory for English gentlemen. A symbol of modern urban life, it was quickly absorbed into the culture at large, donned by working-class guys and gals of culture alike, thus blurring borders between rank and gender.

On the runways, spottings of brazen new headgear are becoming more frequent (Phillip Lim with the Top hat; Proenza Schouler and the Cloche), but the gender-bending spirit of the Bowler feels a touch less period than the former and just plain cool. One in particular that suits the season—and boys as well as their girlfriends—is Hope's classic Bowler. Crafted of the traditional felt, this trim and dandy topper makes the grade for understated style. For a little less bank, G-Star also turned out a Bowler for fall, and if you fancy a pricier custom version, Barbara Feinman, a milliner in the East Village, can make one to order. But whatever the cost, we figure, if it was good enough for Charlie, it's good enough for us.

Hope "Doc" Bowler hat, about $215, available at Hope Stockholm, +46 (0)8 678-1130, and online soon at www.branten.com. G-Star "Parker" Bowler hat, $120, available at G-Star, 270 Lafayette Street, New York City, 212-219-2744; Barbara Feinman Bowler hat, $225, available at Barbara Feinman, 66 East 7th Street, New York City, 212-358-7092, or go to www.barbarafeinman.com.

For him or her, the bowler hat comes out on top.