The fedora is a soft felt hat that is creased lengthwise down the crown and pinched in the front on both sides. Similar hats with a C-crown (with an indentation for the head in the top of the crown) are occasionally called fedoras. The term fedora was in use as early as 1891. The word fedora comes from the title of an 1882 play by Victorien Sardou. Princess Fédora, the heroine of the play, wore a hat similar to a fedora.
Beginning in the 19th century, the fedora came into use as an upper-class clothing accessory. In the early part of the twentieth century, the fedora was popular in cities for its stylishness, ability to protect the wearer's head from the wind and weather, and the fact that it could be rolled up when not in use. The hat is sometimes associated with Prohibition-era gangsters and the detectives who sought to bring them to justice.
In Hollywood movies of the 1940s, characters often wore a fedora, particularly when playing private detectives, gangsters, or other "tough guy" roles. A trench coat was frequently part of the costume, a notable example being Humphrey Bogart's character in Casablanca or The Maltese Falcon. The fedora is also widely recognized with the character of Indiana Jones. The fedora is closely associated with film noir characters.
The popularity of the fedora has resulted in a large variety of styles being available. Fedoras can be found in nearly any color imaginable, but black, grey, and tan or brown are the most popular. In the United States, fedoras were once considered an essential part of the suit and of business and formal attire. Most men did not go outside without wearing one.