Fedora refers to a type of hat made of wool or fur felt, and bearing a center crease and pinched front to the crown, and a brim between two and three inches wide. A ribbon around the base of the crown and finished with a bow tie on the left side is the trim.
The hat is crushable, which means it can be packed away only to spring back into shape when used. The three most popular colors are brown, gray, and black, although many others are available.
The hat first made an appearance in the 1882 stage play Fédora by French playwright Victorien Sardou (1831–1908). Actress Sarah Bernhardt in the role of the title character sported a soft felt hat in several scenes; this hat was originally intended to be feminine attire. By the end of the 19th century it had become a part of men's fashion due to its style and wearability, becoming extremely popular from the 1920's to the mid-1950's.
Although first appearing in France, the fedora has a uniquely-American association to it. America's fascination with the gangsters of the Prohibition era swelled the hat's popularity, which further expanded with many Hollywood motion pictures not only portraying gangsters, but private eyes, detectives, adventurers, and so on. Stars such as Edward G. Robinson, James Cagney, and Humphrey Bogart often wore fedoras in their films.
From the late-1950's, fedoras fell out of fashion for a more-conservative look, as the "trilby" or "bucket fedora" with it's smaller crown and brim became popular until the 1970's when the majority of men simply went hatless; this version would be famous on the heads of football coaches Tom Landry, Vince Lombardi, and Paul "Bear" Bryant.
1981 would mark the release of Raiders of the Lost Ark and its iconic character, Indiana Jones; since then the fedora has made a slow comeback, but still far behind - in terms of popularity and numbers - the ball cap.