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A fedora is a type of hat, often associated with detectives and spies in the first half of the 20th century. It is usually worn by men, but women's versions also exist. The classic example is made of soft felt, but hats of the same shape made of straw, twill, and other textiles may also be called a fedora. It has a pinched crown and a brim that is often turned down in the front.
This hat style was named after the title character in Victorien Sardou's 1882 play Fédora, originally played by Sarah Bernhardt, who wore a similar hat onstage. Fedoras were first made in their current style in the 1910s, and they quickly became popular for their stylishness and practicality. Because it was more compact than hat styles of the previous century, it was ideal for riding in automobiles and for the increasing crowdedness of city life. Business men did not go outdoors in the mid-20th century without a hat, and that hat was usually a fedora.
The fedora was also popularized in films of the 1940s and 50s, particularly those in the film noir style. The image of the detective or tough guy in a fedora and trench coat is still strong in the popular consciousness. People who wear the hat today often do so as an homage to the style of earlier decades. It has also traditionally been worn by Hasidic and Haredi Jewish men since its invention.
Though it fell out of fashion in the 1960s and 70s, and men's headgear has become more of an option than a requirement, the fedora is once again gaining in popularity. It is classy without being too formal, and its flexible shape allows the wearer to customize it to some degree. The hats can be found in nearly any color, though brown, black, and tan are the most common, and a feather on the side is a common feature. It remains the best-selling style of men's head wear.