Given its simplicity and practicality, it’s small wonder that the flat cap has almost global appeal. But then, while Peaky Blinders may have energised interest in it and its six or eight-panelled cousin the ‘baker boy’ style, the flat cap has been around since the 14th century.
An Act of Parliament in the UK in 1571 made it mandatory to wear a woollen cloth cap on Sundays and public holidays – more as a boost to sheep farming than weekend style. But today, it’s all about aesthetics and what it can add to your look.
There are plenty of pitfalls of course, but these can be easily avoided if you know what you’re doing. The whole ‘faux-gentleman’ thing that embraced the flat cap (as well as the beard and exaggerated moustache) has come and gone, but it is possible to wear one and look both contemporary and cool.
What Is The Flat Cap?
There is, in fact, a genius inherent to this affordable and durable design: less formal than more structured hats – and so less off-putting for men who can’t, as it were, get their heads around hats – its design is still a deceptively clever one.
Cut deeper at the back, it has more purchase than it looks like it does – useful especially when lifting eyes to the sky while shooting, for example; the brim is short but still enough to shade eyes; and the whole thing is foldable, easily stowed inside a pocket.
These are all notions nicked by spin-offs such as the driving cap, cycling cap and even the baseball cap. Perhaps the most appealing thing about the flat cap right now though is that it’s not a baseball cap. Ever understated, you’d never get a flat cap sporting some brash logo.
How To Wear A Flat Cap
Like its American equivalent, the baseball cap, the flat cap has an everyman quality to it, as fitting atop a pigeon-fancying Yorkshireman as it is an estate-touring toff, whether working the land or owning it. It found a place in skinhead culture, but also hip-hop and has been favoured by everyone from Del Boy to Samuel L. Jackson.
Likewise, while it’s not a hat for all seasons – linen versions may work for summer, but the flat cap is essentially a cold-weather style – it is a hat for almost all occasions. Unlike the baseball cap, the flat cap is as at home with tailoring as with jeans and T-shirt, flattering most faces into the bargain.
Opting for one in a neutral colour such as navy or dark grey will offer up the most versatility. Introduce one as part of a monochrome look consisting of black tailored trousers, a grey T-shirt and a navy bomber jacket, and it’ll serve you well in a casual office environment as well as the weekend.
Wear It With
Best Flat Cap Brands
Lock & Co
Unarguably one of the UK’s most esteemed hatters – its namesake’s story in hat-making can be traced back to the 1750s, and the company is said to have invented the bowler hat – this is the place to go should you ever need a hot weather flat cap. They have styles in cashmere and Escorial wool, but also linen.
Yes, there really is an official ‘Peaky Blinders’ flat cap, not least because the TV show’s creator, Steven Knight, set up a company to make them and other clothing befitting a Brummie hoodlum at the turn of the last century. The English-made tweed style names? Arthur, Thomas and Shelby, of course.