Sou’wester

sou'wester rain hat

Protection from the driving rain

A Sou’wester is a traditional collapsible oilskin rain hat often associated with offshore fishermen.

The Sou’wester features a back which is longer than the front to protect the neck from driving rain. The design also allows the neck freedom of movement, unlike the restrictive hood. Some feature a gutter front brim which assists in dispersal of rainwater and some have ear flaps to keep water out of the ears.

Traditional Sou’westers are made with an oiled cotton canvas outer and linen liner, and are still made and sold today. Modern Sou’westers are often made using the latest manmade technical fabrics.

Fishermen in the 19th century wore oiled clothes to protect them from lashing rain and these garments developed in to the waterproof foul weather gear we know today.

The name most likely comes from the Southwesterly wind which brings warm air from the tropics to the British Isles, which is cooled from below as it moves northwards over a gradually cooling sea often bringing rain.

Surprisingly the Sou’wester has been a fashion item on and off during the years, particularly in the 1960s, as an item which gives the wearer a nautical look.

Other names for a Sou’wester

  • Oilskin hat
  • Fisherman’s Hat

Famous wearers of the Sou’wester

  • Offshore Fishermen
  • Trawlermen
  • Lifeboatmen
fisherman with sou'wester rain hat