Flat Caps: Country Trends

Figure 1.--This American boy, probably in the 1920s, wears a flat cap, sweater, and corduroy knickers. Virtuall all American boys at the time wore flat caps.

Flat caps were widely worn in both America and Europe, but probably more commonly in America than any other country. By the late 19th and early 20th century they were being widely worn by working class men. In contrast they were also worn by the affluent class for country outings and golf--pften with kniclers. As a boys style they appear, by the turn of the 20th century, more popular in America than Britain and England as a style of hat for boys. In Britain flat caps had class connotations. They were tghe most popular cap style for boys in the early 20th century for more than three decades. They were also worn in manu other countries, but not nearly as commonly as in america, The one exception here may have been Canada..


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.


Flat caps were for many years the most common cap worn by Canadian boys from the 1890s through the 1930s. There are many images of Canadian boys on HBC wearing flat caps. We note a railroad portrait in the 1890s with a boy and a flat cap. hey were worn by boys throughout Canada.


Flat caps were also worn by English boys, normally working-class boys. Boys seem to have worn the traditional school caps more commonly to school. This is probably the primary reason they were not more common. Private schools had uniforms which required the peaked school caps, but we notice at state schools that when boys wore caps, kt was usually the peaked school cap style rather than flat caps. I think there must hsave been school regulations enforced here. We see flat caps more commonly worn outside of school. Also they were more common for boys above primary school age. They were also worn in a more fashionable sence by men for country and golf wear.


French boys also wore these caps, especially teenagers. I'm not sure, however, about the popularity.


We have only limited information on flat caps worn by German boys. We are not sure what these calps were called, perhaps some form of "mütze". We note several images of German boys wearing a variety of flat cap styles. Various styles were worn. A good example is a Berlin boy about 1905-10. The flat cap does not, however, seem nearly as popular in Germany for boys as it was in America or even Britain. This may be because of our still limited number of German images, however, our initial assessment is that flat caps were worn, but relatively few boys had them. They may have had the image of a working-class style. In particular we do not note the style being worn extensively during the NAZI era (1932-45). We wonder if the style was not liked by the NAZIs. (The NAZIs had definire ideas about how children should dress.) We see a few images from the 1950s of boys wearing flat caps, but the style had dissapeared by the 1960s. Hopefully our German readers will tell us more about flat caps.


These caps were worn to some extent by Italian boys. HBU is unable at this time, however, to assess how commonly they were worn.


Navigate the Historic Boys' Clothing Web Headwear Pages:
[Return to the Main flat cap page]
[Return to the Main headwear page]
[Caps] [Hats] [Berets] [Hair]

Navigate the Historic Boys' Clothing Web chronological pages:
[The 1880s] [The 1890s] [The 1900s] [The 1910s] [The 1920s] [The 1930s]
[The 1940s] [The 1950s] [The 1960s]
[The 1970s] [The 1980s]

Navigate the Historic Boys' Clothing Web Site:
[Introduction] [Activities] [Bibliographies] [Biographies] [Chronologies] [Countries] [Style Index]
[Contributions] [Expanded Site] [Frequently Asked Questions] [Glossaries] [Images] [Links] [Registration] [Tools]
[Boys' Clothing Home]

Created: 4:28 AM 6/26/2007
Last updated: 11:53 PM 2/20/2008