A straw hat associated with boating

A Boater, also known as a basher, skimmer, cady, katie, somer, or sennit hat, is a type of hat originally associated with sailing and boating.

A Boater is normally made of sennit straw and has a stiff or soft flat crown and brim, usually with a ribbon around the crown, which is often in colours representing a school, rowing crew or other institution.

Boaters were popular as summer hats in the late 19th century and early 20th century, and were reportedly worn by FBI agents as an unofficial uniform in the pre-war years.

Today they are rarely seen outside of sailing, rowing events, period theatrical and musical performances, eg barbershop music, or as part of old-fashioned school uniform, such as at Harrow School.

People at political rallies in the United States sometimes use inexpensive foam or plastic skimmers.

In Australia, New Zealand and South Africa the Boater is still a common part of the school uniform in many boys schools. The Carreiros of Madeira who drive the traditional wicker toboggans carrying visitors from the parish church at Monte (Funchal) down towards Funchal centre where Boaters.

The Boater, being made of straw, is generally regarded as a warm-weather hat. In the days when all men wore hats when outside, ‘Straw Hat Day’ was the day when men switched from wearing their winter hats to their summer hats, was seen as a sign of the beginning of summer.

The Boater is a fairly formal hat, equivalent in formality to the Homburg, and so is correctly worn with a blazer, or in the same situations as a Homburg, such as a smart lounge suit or with black tie.

Other names for Boater

  • Basher
  • Skimmer
  • Cady
  • Katie
  • Somer
  • Sennit Hat

Famous Boater wearers

  • Harold Lloyd
  • John Jacob Astor IV
  • FBI Agents

Boater fancy dress ideas

A Boater conjures up many ideas for characters and cheap ones are available in natural materials as well as plastic or foam.

  • Butcher
  • St. Trinians School Girl
  • Punting
  • Sailing or Boating
  • Barbershop Quartet
  • Union Jack Boater
  • Edwardian
  • 1920s
  • FBI Agent
FBI Agents in Boaters