What is a tyrolean hat?

The Tyrolean hat (German: Tirolerhut, Italian: Cappello Alpino), also a Bavarian hat or Alpine hat, is a type of headwear that originally came from the Tyrol in the Alps, in what is now part of Austria, Germany, Italy, and Switzerland.

A typical Tyrolean hat originally had a crown tapering to a point and was made of green felt with a brim roughly the width of a hand, something that was especially common in the Zillertal.

There are various forms of the this hat. Frequently the hats are decorated with a colored, corded hatband and a spray of flowers, feathers, or “brush” at the side of the crown. The traditional “brush” is made of the beard of the chamois goat. It takes a variety of forms, and may often be combined with feathers

This hat became even better-known thanks to Edward VIII who, after his abdication, frequently stayed in Austrian Styria and often wore a hat of Tyrolean style, although it did not come from there.

In the 19th and 20th centuries, Tyrolean costumes developed a certain degree of uniformity in their appearance. In the local village costumes of the Tyrol, the various styles of this hat have survived since the 1830s/1840s, albeit similar to those of contemporary fashion. These original forms vary from the tall, relatively narrow-brimmed hats of North Tyrol which were dented on top, to the small, wide-brimmed hats of the South Tyrolean wine country.

Later it became the image bearer of “Tyrolean culture” as a tourist symbol, influenced also by folk music bands who wore fanciful “local” costumes. The musician, Billy Mo, wrote a song in 1962 called “I Prefer to Buy a Tyrolean Hat”, which reinforced the link between the hat and traditional Alpine (brass band) folk music. In 1965, a comedy musical appeared under the same title.

It is said that this hat was the inspiration for the homburg.


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