Garb of the Month: Bolivian Bowler Hats

By Stride Team
August 15, 2018

One simply doesn't see that many bowler hats these days. Unless you're maybe going to a costume party dressed as a fashionable person from the early 20th century.

Or unless you're in Bolivia, where this style of headwear is quite common for women. 

Bolivia traditional dress

The story goes that in the 1920s,a  merchant settler placed an order for the hats from Europe, where they were extremely popular for men at the time, in order to bring a little taste of home to European travelers and residents in Bolivia. Upon their delivery he discovered that they were several sizes too small. So he sold them to Bolivian natives.

The women of Bolivia enjoyed the style and adopted it, perfecting it in their own way. The hats are designed to be small and perched on top of the head by balance (or a bobby pin).

Bolivia colorful dress

Today many fashion shops in Bolivia either include bower hats (Spanish: bombín) among their merchandise, or focus on selling and making them exclusively. The style of the hats changes every now and then, in the height, color, and brim width. 

The bowler hat isn't the only staple of traditional Bolivian dress that you'll see on any given day. Women regularly don the native styles, including a "Manta" a kind of long shawl, and the "Pollera" which are thick colorful pleated skirts. 

Visit Bolivia! Search over 100 guided tours »

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