A trilby hat (or simply trilby, originally Trilby hat) is a soft felt men's hat with a narrow brim, a deeply indented crown, and a pinch at the front. Traditionally it was made from rabbit hair felt, but is now sometimes made from other materials, including tweed and wool. Trilbies are softer than Homburgs, and have a flexible brim instead of a curved one. They are similar to fedoras, which have a wider brim and are mainly an American hat. The hat's name derives from a play based on George du Maurier's 1894 novel Trilby, and one was worn in the first London production of the stage adaptation.
It was widely worn from the late 1920s onwards, initially as a casual sporting hat, such as for wearing to horse races. By the end of World War II, it had largely supplanted other hats such as Homburgs and bowlers for wear with a suit or smart casual, although it never replaced flat caps. It continued to be commonly worn this way until hats stopped being everyday wear for men in about the 1960s.
Ever since, the trilby has been a symbol of chic elegance and class, and has been associated with jazz, ska and soul musicians. It has been popular among the rude boy, mod, skinhead and 2 Tone subcultures. In the UK, trilbies have also become popular within the indie rock and emo scenes.
British journalist William Norman Ewer had the nickname Trilby because he was known to wear the hat. The trilby was also often worn by Inspector Clouseau, the character portrayed by Peter Sellers in the Pink Panther film series. The 1950s radio program The Goon Show made frequent references to the hat, such as a description of the character Eccles, in which he is seen wearing a metal trilby. The trilby is widely worn amongst Orthodox Jews - especially Rabbis and yeshiva students.