By the end of the nineteenth century, fashionable menswear was dark, plain, sober, and increasingly formal. Black or charcoal grey frockcoats or morning coats were worn for conducting urban business, or at smart social daytime events, whilst tailcoats were worn in the evenings. However, on informal summer occasions, men were permitted to relax and they often chose to wear cream linen or lightweight woollen suits or jackets, or perhaps a striped blazer. In place of the obligatory top hat or bowler, they were able to wear stiff straw boaters with flat crowns, trimmed round with a petersham ribbon. Popular until the 1930s, and still seen today on some university sports occasions, they were worn for any outdoor sporting event like cricket, tennis or boating, and also for garden parties or visits to the seaside.
This typical boater dates from around 1900, and was retailed by the London firm of Tress & Co whose details are stamped as a label on the lining, together with the assurance that the hat is "rain resistant". The bowler hat shown would have been the only fashionable alternative on a summer outing.
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