* United States boys clothes: headwear caps








United States Boys' Headwear: Cap Styles


Figure 1.--Astrakhan is the Russian name of newborn karakul sheep's pelts and as a result, caps/hats and coats made from these pelts are referred to as Astrakhans. It has been described as world's warmest headwear. It was not a boy's cap style, but boys wore them. We are not sure what was used to produce American Astrakhans, especially the ones worn by boys. We see many American boys wearing these caps in the late-19th century. We are mot sure about the chronology, but note them in the Photograohic record by the 1870s. We no longer e boys wearing them to any extent after the turn-of-the 20th century. Quite a few boys wear them in the formal studio portaita.

Caps were more common for boys than hats, but we see boys wearing both. Caps seem more a 19th than an 18th century style. We do not know of any 18th century caps, but we see many in the 19th and 20th centuries. The most common headwear for younger boys in the late 19th century was the wide-brimmed sailor hat, but sailor caps soon became more popular. American boys at the turn of the 20th century favored flat caps until about the late 1930's. Then, for a time (1940s to about the mid 1950s) some boys wore a felt or cloth cap that looked a bit like a crown - roundish top with a short, turned up brim cut into a series of peaks. In the "Archie" comic books, Archie's pal, Jughead, wore this style of cap, as did Jeff's (Tommy Rettig) friend, "Porky", from the early televised Lassie series. Baseball caps weren't common where I grew up until the late 1950's. Younger boys for dress wear wore peaked Englisgh school-type, usually in balck or grey. Possibly, this reflected the influx of early baby boomers into Little League baseball, swelling their ranks in number. Baseball caps seem to be in a "line of succession" of boys' caps. Major league baseball players from the late 19th century are depicted as wearing a cap with a flatter crown and smaller brim than today's caps. Some HBC readers note that the appearance is not unlike a Civil War era kepi (except for the crown) and contend that this could well be the origin of the baseball cap. HBC is not convinced of this and thinks the English school/cricket cap is a more likely choice as to the origins of the baseball cap. There were also a range of other headwear such as berets, hetmets, and knit caps. These items are commonly referred to as caps as well even though they did not have brims. we have not noted any new styles in the 21st century. Some cap styles like sailor caps, flat caps, and baseball caps were particularly common for boys, but there are many other styles worn as well. There were also fad styles like coon-skin caps.


Figure 2.-- Aviator caps were a style of helmet worn in the 1920s and 30s. The term helmet now has an image of metal or hard plastic (football), but it should be remembered that before World war II, American football was played with leather helmets. We are not yet entirely sure about the chronology of these caps. Were we see two unidentified biys duing the 1930s with their father and grandfther.

Astrakhan

Astrakhan is a city in southern European Russia on the eastern bank of the Volga River, close to where it empties into the Caspian Sea. Astrakhan is the Russian name of newborn karakul sheep's pelts and as a result, caps/hats and coats made from these pelts are referred to as Astrakhans. It has been described as world's warmest headwear. One source descrines it as Russia's only contribution to classic mens clothing. It is usually done in black or gray Persian lamb, but expensive versions have been done in expensive furs such as mink. We are not sure what was used to produce American Astrakhans, especially the ones worn by boys. They are made with built-in ear flaps not usually visile in studio portraits. It was not a boy's cap style, but boys wore them. We see many boys wearing these caps in the late-19th century. We are mot sure about the chronology, but note them in the Photograohic record by the 1870s. We no longer see boys wearing them to any extent after the turn-of-the20th century. Quite a few boys wear them in the formal studio portaita.

Aviator Caps/Helmets

Aviator caps were a style of helmet worn in the 1920s and 30s. The term helmet now has an image of metal or hard plastic (football), but it should be remembered that before World war II, American football was played with leather helmets. We are not yet entirely sure about the chronology of these caps. We do do not yet have images from the 1910s or even early 20s showing aviator caps. We do note them in the late-20s and the 1930s. We suspect that it was World War I aces (1914-18), barn stormers, and and Charles Lindberg (1926) that helped to make them a popular style with American boys. They made aviation very exciting to boys in the 1920s. Barn stomers crossed the country, offering rides. It made flying and flying gear like the aviation cap seem very glamerous. We notice boys wearing them in the 1920s and 30s. This seems to have been a uniquely American style. A good example is an unidentified boy at an air show about 1930. They were essentially a cold-wear cap. They were not very comfortable to wear, except if course when it was very cold. We note slight differences in styles. They could be worn with the flaps up and down.

Balaclava

The balaclava was a kind of extended knit ski or stocking cap which covered the whole head and had eye and mouth openings. It was worn in England and evolved out of mid-19th century the Crimean War. I am not sure when they were first worn by children in either England or America. The balaclava never seems to have been very popular in America. I'm not sure why this was, because the weather is colder during the winter in America than in England and thus would seem more appropriate. We have seen them in America, but not very commonly. They seem more common for bank robbers beginning in the 1970s than for kids. Of course the balaclava is probably not very well represented in the photographic record. After all, who but bank robbers want their photograph taken in a balaclava.


Figure 2--The baseball cap became a real favorite for boys in the 20th century. They began to grow in popularity during the 1920s.

Baseball Caps

Baseball caps originated as a uniquely American-style cap. Baseball caps weren't common where I grew up until the late 1950's. Possibly, this reflected the influx of early baby boomers into Little League baseball, swelling their ranks in number. Baseball caps seem to be in a "line of succession" of boys' caps. Major league baseball players from the late 19th century are depicted as wearing a cap with a flatter crown and smaller brim than today's caps. Some HBC readers note that the appearance is not unlike a Civil War era kepi (except for the crown) and contend that this could well be the origin of the baseball cap. HBC is not convinced of this and thinks the English school/cricket cap is a more likely choice as to the origins of the baseball cap.

Balmorals

The Balmoral was a kind of tam, sometimes worn with Scottish-styled outfits like kilt suits anf Highland outfits. This was not a common style in America, but we see some youngr boys wearing them in the late-19th century.

Beanies

The beanie was a popular informal boys' cap style in the early 20th century. The beanie was not as popular as the flat cap and was not worn for formal occassions, but it was popular for some time. It appears to have been an exclusively American style. It is a now little known cap in America where all boys wear baseball caps For a time (1940s to about the mid 1950s) some boys wore a felt or cloth cap that looked a bit like a crown - roundish top with a short, turned up brim cut into a series of peaks. In the "Archie" comic books, Archie's pal, Jughead, wore this style of cap, as did Jeff's (Tommy Rettig) friend, "Porky", from the early televised Lassie series. There were some soecialized styles. Like many caps, this was an exclusively boys' styles. We never note girls wearing them.

Berets

Some American boys during the late 19th century wore tams withs dressy outfits. The classic beret was worn by small boys in America during the 1920s-40s as part of a dressy outtfit. Berets were never worn by American boys as casual clothing. Berets were occassionaly worn during the 1950s, but not commonly. Almost always American boys wore white or cream colored berets with dressy clothes. Stlightly oldervboys might wear a paeked cap with dressy outfits. I am not sure why the light-colored bertets were preferred, but this convention was very common. The beret was generally considered in America, however, as a girls cap. And the girls wore a much wider range of colors. Girls wore them extensively in the 1920s-30s, calling them "tams". The beret was little seen in the United States after the 40s as boys wears, until some Scout groups adopted red berets during the 1960s.

Bonnets

The term bonnent is most associated with girl's and women's headwear, especially fanct styles--as in Easter bonnet. It is also used in for infant headwear--as in baby bonnet. And baby bonnets were worn by both boy and girl infants and sometimes toddlers. There were some male bonnets. The Scotts for some reason used the term for their most notable headwear styles--Balmorals and Glengaries.

Brimless Conical Caps

This is a cap that we have no idea what to call. It is a brimless cap with tapered sides reaching a point or a near point at the crown. The best known example is a dunce cap. But the examples we have found are much shorter than the classic tall dunce cap. It was a relatively rare cap style, but we have noted a few examples. Smme we note was done in velvet and was a relatively soft cap worn by a young boy in a white dress during the 1880s. It is a little difficult to assess the actual shape of the cap from a single image.


Figure 3-- We are not sure what to call these brimless caps. We notice them being widely worn in the late 19th century, especially the 1880s-90s. We commonly see them in the photographic record. This cabinet card portrait was taken by Cal Keck in Youngstown, Ohio. Notice his brimless cap.

Brimless Round Caps

We are not sure what to call these brimless round caps. We see them in period catalogs, but they are only referred to as caps. The sides are perpendicular like a stovepipe hat, but not nearly as high and not as stiff. They were made in soft mterials. They are also similar to pill-box caps, but again not as stiff. We notice them being widely worn in the late-19th century, especially the 1880s-90s. While we commonly see them in the photographic record, we have not yet found any written information about them and thus do not know any more about them than can be observed in the photographic portraits. We note them being worn with fancy outfits. They seem similar to smoking caps, but I believe they were constructed somewhat differently. We think they may have been primarily a cold-weather cap. I think the sides may have neen two layers, but cannot yet conform this. This seems to have been a cap style worn by both boys and adult men. Hopefully a HBC reader will know more about these styles.

Cold Weather Caps

We note several different styles of cold weather winter caps. These caps become increasingly common in the 1870s. These are a little difficult to discuss because we do not know the precise names for the specific styles. Some of the earliest we note are woodsmen's cap, often done in plaid. The mjor chracteristivc were ear flaps that could be folded up. We also notice hemet styles, these had ear flaos, but without a brim or only a smll brimm. Another perenial coldweather favorite was stocking caps.


Figure 4.-- Walt Disney sponsored one of the most populat TV show in the 1950s. And one of the most popular TV series sponsored by Disney was about Davey Crocket. Thus the coon-skon cap became a mist for boy in the 1950s.

Coon-skin Caps

The coon-skin cap was a type of fur cap. I think it was a relsatively common type. Racoons were relatively common and easy to shoot or trap. Boys and men may have worn coon-skin caps on the frontier. I'm not sure to what extent that coon-skin caps were actually worn on the frontier. There were a fad styles in the 20th century. erhaps the best known fad cap was the coon-skin cap. It is associated of course with frontiersmen like Daniel Boon and Davey Crocket. And for that reason when TV shows began featuring Davey Crocket and Daniel Boon in the 1950s, American boys wanted a coon-skin cap. Walt Disney sponsored one of the most populat TV show in the 1950s. And one of the most popular TV series sponsored by Disney was about Davey Crocket. Thus the coon-skon cap became a mist for boy in the 1950s.

Fez

The fez was a kind of truncated conical brimless headwear. It was widely worn in the Middle East and to a lesser extent the Balkans. It was apopular Ottoman style, but worn in the early 20th century after the demose of the Ottoman Empire. It was not commonly worn in America. We do note bots in the late 19th century wear a wide range of headwear. We suspect this was a reflection of many mothers who benefitted from the tremendous growth of the economy in the late 19th century. Thus they had the money to dress stylishly and experimented with different styles, including foreign-looking garments. While rare, we notice a few boys wearung fezes.


Figure 5.--The flat cap was the principal cap style worn by American boys in the early-20th century.

Flat Caps

Few headwear styles were as dominany in a given period as the flat cap. Flat caps were also worn in Europe, but were never as popular as in America. American boys at the turn of the 20th century favored flat caps until about the late 1930's. We see tem at first being worn by older boys and teen afers, but by the 1910s, all schoo-age boys were wearing them. They were commonly worn by American boys in the 1920s-30s before baseball caps took over. Boys at the time did not generally wear baseball caps as they were not commonly available in stores and Little League where boys played ball as part of organized, uniformed teams had not yet developed. Most boys wore these tweedy hats or beanies, except during the winter when warmer styles were needed. We notice a variety of variations with bok the peak (bill) and the crown. They were made in different colors and material. Some matched suits, but most did not. There were a range of different styles. Some were less flat than others, looking rather like English peaked caps. Flat caps were referred to with many different names, such as golf and newspaper boy caps.

Fur Caps

We believe that fur caps were worn in the 17th and 18th century, modstly on the frontier. Boys in more settled areas or the towns were more likely to wear European fashions. We do not have a lot of information on what these caps may have looked like. Of course we have the Hollywood image of the Davy Crockett cook-skin cap with the coon tail hanging dowmn the back. Just how common this actually was I am not sure. As these caps were mostly worn before photography becme common place so we have few images. We do not yet have any written information. I think fur hats were worn in the far north. As fur was becoming increasingly expensive, they were not commonly worn after the mid-19th century. This is confirmed by the limited number of fur hsat images in the photographic record.

Glengaries

Glengaries were not a major style for American boys. They were a style a Scottish style imported from Britain. we believe in the 1850s, but our archive is too limited to build a dwfinitive time line yet. While not common, we see some boys from fashionable families wearing them. They were most commonly worn with kilt suits. Boys also wore them with Highland Kilts, but these were much less common than kilt suits in the late-19th century. The kilt suit was a very popular garment for younger boys and thus we do see a number of boys with Glengaries. Itis difficult, however, to assess just how popular they were. Most studio portraits we have found of boys wearing kilt syuits do not have boys wearing or holding their headwear. Sottish outfits were not the only outfits with hich Hlengaries were worn. We also see them worn with cut-away jackets. We have one example of a Boston boy whose portrait looks to have been taken in the 1860s. He is wearing a Glengarry that is cut a little differently than modern Glengaries, it seems to be considerably wider than what we normally see.

Helmets

Helments were the period name for these close fitting leather caps. A specialized style were aviator caps. Not all helmets at the googles which made an ordinary helmet into an avaiator cap. The term helmet is confusing, because it is used to today to mean hardened protective headwear for football or bicycles. This was not how the term was used when these caps became popular in the 1920s. They were a cold-weather cap style. Some but not all had snall bills. They were made so the ear flaps could be pulled up when the weather was not real cold.

Hunting Caps

We are not sure when the peaked huting cap first appeared We first note them in the late-19th centurty. I'm not sure how popular they were. We don;t notice them much in the photographic record. They do seem prominant in catalogs. They were commonly done in plaid. They were also known as woodsmen caps. They seem most popular in the more northerly states. Boys wore these hunting-style caps as a kid of cold weather cap. They were not a specifically boy's cap. Rather we see both men and boys wearing them.

Jockey Caps

We see a few boys in the late-19th century wearing preaked caps with rounded crowns. We are not sure what to call them. They look rather like jockey caps. Some do not look to be very colorful. There were different styles, some with peaks at both ends. They do not seem to have been a casual style, despite the jockey look. Amereican mothers used them with formal outfits. We note younger boys wearing them with suits. Some had wide bands and segmented crowns. We note an unidentified Pennsylvania boy wearing one about 1890 with a kilt suit. An Ohio boy wears one with a Fauntleroy suit. The examples we have found come from the 1880s and 90s. They seem to have been used for younger, pre-school boys.


Figure 6.-- Boys wore a range of military-styled caps. By this we mean an army style cap. The first militarty style we note is a rather modern looking peaked cap that was worn by Mexican War soldiers. Here we see a boy with one in the 1860s.

Military Caps

Boys wore a range of military-styled caps. By this we mean an army style cap. Sailor caps were a military style as well, but we treat them separately in the sailor cap section. The first militarty style we note is a rather modern looking peaked cap that was worn by Mexican War soldiers. Rgis seems to have been a style Americans boys began wearing in the 1830s, although it appeared earlier in Europe. It might be worn by school boys with tunics as well as other garments. The kepi was won by boys during and after the Civil war era, but it was never a really popular style. I'm not sure just why, becaise of the terrible loss of like during the war. We see other peaked cap styles in the late 19th century, but again they never proved to be a particularly popular style. They were often worn with military costumes boys wore.

Mortar Boards

The mortar board square academic is also known as a graduate cap. The term mprtat board comes from similarity in appearance to the 'hawk' used by bricklayers to hold mortar. Mortatr board is a quloqial name, but the most commonly used in America. We have als seen Oxford cap used, but more in England. The mortar board was academic head dress consisting of a horizontal square board set upon a skull-cap. A tassel attached to the center. we see boys wearing these caps in the 19th century, most commonly as far as we can tell, younger boys. we see these caps for some reasom paired with Fauntleroy suits. We have no idea why. The only connection we can think of is the school boys in Enland thst wore mortar boards. They were one of many different headwear styles we note being worn with Fauntleroy suits. Boy in Britain wore mortar boards at some schools, mostly prep schools. But this was never the case in the United States. While we no longer see this after the turn-of-the 20th century. The mortar board became standard for graduationncermonies, both high school and college as part of cap and gown ceremonies. We also see them being used in recent years for pre-scholl/kinfrrgarden graduation as a kind of cutsie ceremony.

Peaked Cap

We notice boys wearing a variety of cloth peaked caps. We are not yet sure about the chronology. They appeared in Britain in the mod-19th cenurt. We ntice them in America in the 1880s, but they may have appeared earlier. They were even vworn with Fauntleroy suits--one of several different stylesw. They were popular in the 1890s and 1900s, but only one of a varirty of caps. They were worn for both dress and casual wear. Some private schools adopted them as part of the school uniform. American boys did not commonly wear school uniforms. We see a few boys wearing this cap to school in the early 20th century. Mant flat caps in the early 20th century were not real flat, looking somewhat like the peaked cap. We do see some boys earing these caps to school. They were more commonly worn by boys at private schools, some of which did have uniforms. Bythe 1910s they were generally replaced as casual wear by the flat cap. The flat cap was not adopted as a school uniform item. The peaked cap declined in popularity during the 1910s, especially as a casual cap style. The peaked cap, howevcer, did not disaapear. It became more associated as a younger boys dress cap. They were often bought to match suits. This was common through the 1960s. The peaked cap was also adopted as the official Cub cap by the Boy Scouts in 1930.


Figure 7.-- Younger boys for dress wear wore peaked Englisgh school-type, usually in black or grey. We see these caps being worn in several different countries as a kind of dress cap. This was the cap worn by American boys from affluent families, normally with a suit and done to match the suit. This photograph looks to have been taken after World War II in the late 1940s.

Peaked Cub Caps

The Boy Scouts of America after considerable study and with reservations introduced a Cub program for younger boys (1930). This was mnuch later than Cubbing began in Britain. The cap was aeaked cap. These caps were commonly worn by American boys in the early-20th century before flat caps became standard. The origin was, however, the British Cub cap. This was the same peaked cap used by English Cubs adopted from the standard school cap worn in Britain. The American Cub cap, however, was done in blue and gold. The same cap was used until 1981 when a major change in Cub and Scout uniforms was made.

Peaked Dress Caps

We first note these caps in the early 20th century when fkat caps were just beginning to become standard. Younger boys for dress wear wore peaked Englisgh school-type, usually in black or grey. We see these caps being worn in several different countries as a kind of dress cap. This was the cap worn by American boys from affluent families, normally with a suit and done to match the suit. This was the most common cap style worn with short pants suits, especially the Eton suits worn by younger American boys. We see quite a number of phitigraphs of American boys wearing Eton suits with peaked hats during the 1930s-60s. We see both family snapshots and advertisements, such as an insurance ad in the 1960s. We believe that it was popular in America in part because of its English association.

Peaked Military Caps

The peaked military cap was a popular boys' style for most of the 19th century. We noticed some different styles over time. They appeared as far as we can tell in the early-19th century, but I am not sure precisely when. Following fashions before the invention of photography is difficult. The early caps were based on European fashions--a Napoleonic War military cap style. We are not sure what to call them. enote some frefernce to olivervTist caps, but that is not what they would have been called at the time. Perhaps readers will have an idea. We know they were worn in the 1820s and during the first half of the century. We notice these caps, or at least some similar-looking ones, later, but not as commonly. These caps were probably the most important headwear style in the early-19th century. Rounded-crown hats appear to have begun to replaced them in importance by mid-century. The caps were made in many different forms. Some had leather brims while others were all cloth. They were sttill worn in the 1880s. We also seem them in the 1890s, but by that time they were beginning to be less common. A good example are boys at the Kern City School in 1891. We see the kepi caps, another peaked military style becoming important as a result of the CIvil War. hey were the primary uniform cap worn by both Confederate and Federal soldiers. And we see them being worn for several decades after the War. They were no, owever, as popular as one might think after the Civil War, perhaps the most mamouth undetaking (in relative terms) of the American Republic. Surely the boys would have wanted them. Perhps the mothers did not totally approve because of the horrors of the War.

Pill-box Caps

The pillbox cap seems primarily a uniform cap. Caps based on the uniform caps worn by British soldiers during the mid and late 19th century. Adopted by some Boys' Brigade units. Some boys that were not Brigade members also wore the caps, but we are unsure about the conventions involved. The caps eventually became identified with pages at luxury hotels. There was also a brief period during the 1890s in which they were worn as baseball caps in America instead of the traditional peaked-cap style. This style, however, was never actually worn by American boys. The style of wear sport team clothes did no begin until the 1860s.

Pudding Caps

An English "Pudding cap" was a toddler's cap with a thick roll or cushion around the head. Sometimes the entire cap was padded, but most often the padding was only in a thick roll or cushion that circled the head. The caps were also worn in France where they were called a bourrelet. The name apparently comes from bourre'e, meaning to dance, because the movement of a toddler's first steps somewhat resembled dancing. Sometimes the entire cap was padded, but most often the padding was only in a thick roll or cushion that circled the head. I'm not sure to what extent they were wirn in colonial America.


Figure 8.-- This boy wears one of the many styles of sailor caps. This style was the saucer style of sailor caps. The portrait is undated, but was probably taken about 1905.

Sailor Caps

The sailor suit developed as a major syle for boys in the late-19th century. It developed first in Bruitain and then spread to America. There was sailor headwear worn with the suits. The most common headwear for younger boys in the late-19th century was the wide-brimmed sailor hat, but sailor caps soon became more popular. There were several different styles following the uniform caps worn by the U.S. Navy. Sailor caps were widely worn by boys and to some extent girls in the late-19th and early-20th century. Sailor caps were mostkly dome in blue or white. They were of coure worn with sailor suits. They were, however, also worn with many different garments. We note Harold Howes in 1905 wearing a sailor cap with a tunic suit. Boys might wear sailor suits with out the caps. The proper sailor caps were rather a formal style, often not worn casually. An exception was the swabie cap worn beinning in the 1920s.

Stocking Caps

Knitted stocking caps are popular cold-weather headwear for both boys and girls in America. They were also widely worn in other countries, mostly Canada an northern Europe. There were several other names used such as ski and watch caps, although therewere style and color characteristics associated with these variants.. We are not sure when these caps became popular. We know that they were worn in the 19th century. Stocking caps in the 20th century. We note very colorful stocking caps with elaborate patterns in the 20th century. We are not yet sure about the 19th century. We do note tassles in the 19th century. They were worn by both boys and girls. We note some gender variation, mostly concerning color in the 20th century. Again we are less sure about the 19th century.


Figure 9.-- We notice a number of boys in the late-19th century wearing tams, a kind of large beret. This was a dressy headwear, sometimes worn with Fauntleroy suits. This youner boy has no yet been breeched.

Tams

Tams are Tan O'Shanters were similar to berets, but larger and more floppy. We don't see very many American boys wearing them. They were more popular with girls. We do, however, see some younger boys wearing them with a variety of different outfits. There ws no one single outfit they were associated with. We see boys to about age 7-8 years wearing them. They were most common in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. They were made in different colors, but the black and white photography of the day provides very few hints as to color.

Unidentified Cap Styles

We note some caps or other headwear types that we are unable to identify. I some cases the images are not clear. In othercase we simply do not know what to call the headwear. Hopefully HBC readrs will be able to provide some insight to assist us identify the headwear involved.







HBC





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Created: 4:48 AM 12/1/2006
Last updated: 11:56 PM 8/23/2014