What is a Chairman Mao Hat?

Chairman Mao hats are popular in modern theater plays and specific parts of the Chinese fashion industry. They were much more popular a few decades ago, but they make an appearance every so often. However, there’s a lot of symbolism that goes behind these Chinese hats.

A Chairman Mao hat is designed to replicate the hats worn by Mao Zedong, a well-known leader of the Chinese communist party. It’s typically made out of soft wool, and it’s accompanied by a Mao suit. They usually have a red star to symbolize China’s alliance with communism and proletarianism.

Throughout this article, you’ll also learn the following info about Chairman Mao hats:

  • When and why they were popularized
  • Why so many people wore these hats for a long time
  • Answers to the most common questions about Chairman Mao hats

A Brief History of the Chairman Mao Hat

Chairman Mao hats were made in favor of Mao Zedong, a Chinese political leader who passed away in the later 1970’s. He made massive changes in the control that created weaves into modern society. Mao preferred to wear a unique style, which is why the name of the suit and hat were changed to accommodate his likeness.

A Mao hat replica on Amazon.

Here are three things that you need to know about the Chairman Mao hat’s history:

When Did It Become Popular?

According to Keep Shooting, Chairman Mao hats (and suits) were popularized during the Cold War. They were seen as the opposite of Western clothing, making them more appealing to those who were against the US and allied nations. They quickly became a social and political statement that showed who the wearer affiliated themself with.

What’s with the Negativity?

There’s a lot of negative thoughts and emotions surrounding Chairman Mao hats. They’re simple and harmless by design, but the ideas that they symbolize can prove to be conflicting. Mao Zedong supported Communism, a political system that’s been proven to cause chaotic dictatorships where the poor are trampled.

Is It Socially Acceptable to Wear These Hats?

Unless you’re living in an extremely Communist part of China or you’re wearing the hat for a theater class, it’s probably a bad idea to wear a Chairman Mao hat. They’re sold as props, making them readily available for those who want to have a sense of their size, shape, and texture. However, it’s unwise to wear a Chairman Mao hat in Western society.

As you can see, Chairman Mao hats have a lot of background. They’re far from easy-going. People will immediately recognize the symbol and what the wearer stands for. That being said, there were countless people who wore the hat and suit together. If you want to know why this conflicting hat was worn, proceed to the next section.

Why Do People Wear the Chairman Mao Hat?

Although you’ve already read the lengthy history of Chairman Mao hats, you’re probably wondering why they’re still relevant. After all, how could such a politically-charged outfit maintain its importance through the decades? There are many explanations about why people own and wear Chairman Mao hats.

Here’s a list of five situations in which someone would wear one of them:

  1. People wear them to show pride in their country. China has had many leaders, perhaps more than any other nation in modern history. However, Mao Zedong is one of the most known, notorious leaders in the world. People who liked him wore (and sometimes still wear) his hat to show pride.
  2. It’s a symbol of the Communist Party. Chairman Mao was a strong proponent for the Communist party. Anyone who supports the dwindling ideology would agree that a Chairman Mao hat would be an excellent way to show one’s pride in the concept.
  3. Mao Zedong was a revolutionary person in China’s history. Whether or not people are in favor of Mao Zedong, there’s no denying the impact he’s had on the Chinese government. You might wear it as an artifact from a museum, but make sure you’re being sensitive to the people who’ve been negatively impacted.
  4. They’re worn in plays during reenactments. As with all regimes, there are symbols and clothes that are unique to the period. Chairman Mao hats and suits are iconic for the Cold War and Communism. This apparel is worn when people are reenacting the infamous, multi-decade conflict.
  5. They used to be a fashion statement. Much like suits and military outfits are worn in Western and European society, Chairman Mao clothing is worn to show affiliation with the country. They’re political, fashionable, and long-lasting compared to most low-end clothing in the surrounding nations.

They’re not nearly as popular as they once were, but it’s not impossible to come across someone who’s wearing a Chairman Man hat. That being said, knowing the history and various choices behind the style will give you a better understanding of the situation. It’s not as simple as wearing a top hat or a beanie, that’s for sure.

If you want more answers, then you’re in luck. The next section is filled with Q & A’s to get you updated and knowledgeable on the subject.


Now that you know almost everything about the history and purpose of wearing a Chairman Mao hat, it’s time to have your detailed questions answered. You might be wondering if you can wear one without getting into a conflict, where they’re available, or whether they’re still relevant in modern society.

Before we dive into the questions and answers, keep in mind that (as with all political arguments) wearing a Chairman Mao hat could have different results based on your location. Without further ado, here are the details:

  • Where can you get a Chairman Mao hat? Needless to say, most of them are props. Many companies don’t want to affiliate themselves with or support Mao Zedong. You can get replicas, such as the COOLSOME Vintage Fatigue Red Star Mao Army Military Hat on Amazon, but they’re not the same material. Some vintage shops will make exact replicas, though.
  • Will you face trouble for wearing it? It depends where you’re located. If you find yourself in the middle of China in a poor part of the country, you’ll likely be treated badly. Low-class citizens faced the most negativity from Mao Zedong’s Communist agenda, so they won’t take lightly to the hat or its symbolism.
  • Do Chinese officials still wear Chairman Mao suits? They’re not worn in regular daily life, nor are they commonly worn in most settings. However, some Chinese officials pay tribute to Mao Zedong by wearing a Chairman Mao hat and suit to meetings. It should be noted that Chinese officials don’t call it a Mao suit since it could have negative connotations.

Hopefully these points have answered all of your questions. Mao suits are some of the most symbolic outfits in the world. Now that you know more about them, you’ll be able to educate others on the political significance of Chairman Mao hats.


Chairman Mao hats are a complicated, long-disputed piece of the Mao suit. They’re not worn in most settings, nor are they accepted by hundreds of millions of people. They’re affiliated with the wrong side of the Cold War and Communism.

Here’s a quick recap of what this post should’ve taught you:

  • Chairman Mao hats were popularized by Mao Zedong.
  • The red star symbolizes communism, Chinese patriotism (for the Zedong), and proletarianism.
  • There’s a lot of negative emotions surrounding the hat and suit, so it’s best to not wear it around people who were affected by Communism and Mao Zedong.

Read more about hats worn by Chinese people in this article.