Flat Caps: Specific Terms

Figure 1.--Here we see a group of rural boys wearing flat caps, we think in the 1920s. Some of the caps look different, but we are not sure the caps are made differently or it is how the boys are wearing them. The differnce looks to be as a result of how the boys wirked the brim or how they pulled the cap down on their heads. We are not sure what specifuc term best describes these caps. We believe that they and their parents woukd have just called them caps.

There are several different terms for flat caps. And there are stylistic differences. We are not sure, however, to what extent the different names reflected these stylistic differences. We are at this time still trying to determine these different names for flat caps are actual different styles of the caps. The two most popular terms are golf and newsie caps. These appear to be modern terms. We are not sure just what the contemporary terms were. Most catalogs at the time just called them caps. They were so ubiquitous at the time that no more specific term was needed. Most of the catalogs we have seen just use the term 'cap' with not more specific name. Most of these various terms were American.

Apple Caps

The apple cap seems to be just anither name for a newsboy flat cap. The term seems to be derived frim the fact that the caps were popular in New York City--the Big Apple. We thought that the term may also relate that venders selling apples and other items from push carts wore them. Apple caps were later introduced in the 1960s and 70s and made greatly oversized.

Drivers Caps

We note uniformed chaufers wearing flats caps in the 1920s ahnd 30s. This becan=me less common during and after Workd War II. This may be a smaller, modern variation of the flat cap style. I remember in the late1950s into the mid 60's some men wore this cap with casual clothes (adding a rather urbane element to their leisure wear), and some boys even wore this cap with suits, though this was not very common.

Golf Caps

This is another country style for adults. I have noted golfers wearing it in the 1920s, I 'm not sue just when they began. Some golfers seeling a destinctive, traditional style still wear these caps. We notice them both with flat and full crowns. This was a term for an adult flat cap. Golf is not a sport many boys play and golg gear dies not appeal to boys like that of other sports.

Jackie Coogan Cap

There was also a "Jackie Coogan cap. Jackie Coogan was perhaps the first child movie star. HBC is not sure if there was any destinctive stylistic detail to these caps. One HBC reader reports that the Jackie Coogan caps were just a new name for newsboy caps. They were named for the cap that Jackie wore in the movie"the Kid" with Wallace Beery. Our reader has an advert from a 1926 newspaper selling "Jackie Coogan Caps"

Newsie Caps

Newsboy caps seem generally larger and thicker than the other types of caps, e.g. driving,etc. They are mostly always sewn in segments at the top, like the weedges of a pie, culmnating in a button of tweed at the very center of the top. But we see newsboys wearing a variey of thgese and other caps. A HBC reader reports, "I have several, my favorite came from Ireland, and I bought it from Worth & Worth in N.Y. Others came from companies like Mike-the -Hatter,which you can find on the internet. A reader writes, "I saw a recent HBC page about flat caps. I have a dark cap that is similar to those in the image on that page. Mine is great for colder weather (made of wool and doesn't blow off easily because the brim is short) but a lighter weight baseball cap is better for warmer days. A variation on the flat cap is sometimes called a newsboys cap. Vintage images of newsies show many wearing such a cap. The differences between the flat cap and newsboy cap to me are that the flat cap is trimmer and a closer fit; the newsboy cap has a little more crown than I care to sport. The newsboy cap's crown, however, is typically made of eight sections sewn together and topped by a button similar to the button of a baseball cap, a nice touch compared to the flat cap, which has a plain flat crown. I like that dark cap because it's a good balance between the flat and newsboy caps." HBC has tended to use flat cap as a generic term. The poroblem with using newsboy or newsie as atyle of cap is that newsboys wore many different styles of these caps. Another problem with the term newsie caps is that similarly styled flat cap was not just worn by newsboys and other working class boys. All American boys wore them, they were virrtually universal. We see boys of all social classes wearing them with both suits and fior casual wear.

Rattin (h)at

This is a British term to describe these caps.

Shooting Caps

This is another British term, used to describde an adult cap of this style. It was worn by country gentlemen involved in a shhot, often for birds or hares.

Windsor Cap

I assume this is another British term, named for the Duke of Windsor (Edward VIII). Interestingly the flat cap for the most part had a social class image Britain, woirn by wirking class men and shop keeopers like butchers and fish mongerers.


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Created: 6:33 PM 3/18/2012
Last updated: 6:33 PM 3/18/2012