The Tricorn Hat

The Tricorn Hat

This #TallShipTuesday, our fashion historian taught us all about the tricorn hat. Tricorn hats are some of the most iconic hats that sailors wore during the age of sail. Originally referred to as cocked hats, these hats first appeared in the 17th century but became popular in the 18th century. They were most popular with American and European sailors. Despite the strange shape, tricorn hats actually had an important function out at sea.


Tricorns were generally made of beaver or wool felt to provide some weather-proofing. The hat itself was worn with the tricorn points to direct the water away from the face in fowl weather. Sailors traditionally wore the hat with the tapered ends going behind them to help move water to the shoulders and away from the face.


The adornments on the hats varied depending on who was wearing it. The hats could be made very cheaply and plainly. Often, they could be dressed up with trim, feathers, ribbons, and buttons. It could be seen as a status symbol when the hats has more decor.

Successors of the Tricorn

In the late 18th and early 19th century, the tricorn hat was mostly out of style. The bicorn hat was similar to the tricorn, but had only two points. The hat was often more practical at sea, easily folded up to be packed away in sea bags, or folded up and held under the arm. Both the bicorn and the tricorn hat would be replaced by the top hat in the 19th century. The top hat offered protection from weather but also became a status symbol of midshipmen and high financial class

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