Icons of England
  • Introduction
  • The Icons
  • Nominations
  • News
  • Learn & Play
  • Your Comments

Bowler Hat

Bowler Hat
A James Lock & Co. bowler ©James Lock & Co., London

It was the hard hat of its day, a supremely practical item of headgear for working men of all classes, first designed to be worn by gamekeepers patrolling the estates of the landed gentry. The bowler hat first saw the light of the day in 1850, when the first model was designed by James Lock & Co. of St James Street, London, a business that is still going strong today.

Over the course of the last century, the bowler came largely to be associated in the public mind with City gents, but it has made some surprising appearances elsewhere, from Liza Minnelli's nightclub singer in Cabaret to the heads of Aymara tribeswomen in South America. If you want to get ahead...