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How to Wear a Flat Cap

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One of the simplest pieces of headwear available, the flat cap is having a resurgence currently, due to the popularity of Peaky Blinders. It’s the ultimate cool guy finishing touch to most outfits, from casual to formal. When started in the 1570s, it was a necessity by law for working class men to wear a wool cap on Sundays and public holidays until the 1590s. This was to give the wool industry a boost. 

Since then, flat caps have been staples for men’s dressing up until the mid 1940s. After that point, the style has been on trend every so often, like other cyclical fashions. Traditionally, they have been worn with Sunday best outfits, lots of tweed suits and formalwear. However, in the 21st century, many celebrities and fashion houses have styled flat caps with casual, smart-casual and formal outfits. 

Our guide on how to wear a flat cap includes what a flat cap is, how to measure your head for it as well as our usual styling tips for casual, smart-casual and dressy outfits. 

Tweed flat cap

What is a flat cap?

Flat caps are considered the more affordable formal headwear, when compared to top hats or fedoras. They’re your everyman kind of style so those with lower incomes could still look put-together back in the day. 

They fit further down the head compared to other hats. Flat caps should sit at the nape of your neck at your hairline to allow the cap part at the front to be long enough to shield your eyes from the sun but not too long to restrict your vision. 

The best thing about flat caps is how portable they are. The design was invented to be a foldable style so it fits nicely in a jacket or coat pocket. 

The cap section is meant to merge into the hat so you don’t have a wide brim, like a baseball cap. This gives it that formal feel instead of being ultra casual.

If the design has a button on the top and has a wider brim, that is considered to be a newsboy cap. They tend to be baggier in style whereas a flat cap is sleek and streamlined. Newsboy caps are made by putting together eight panels of fabric to make the main part of the hat. Flat caps are sewn at the seams as it is one piece of material over the top!

Mens tweed flat cap

How to measure for a flat cap

The hatband and visor are the two main components when it comes to measuring your head for a fitted flat cap. You want it to feel comfortable on your head so it’s important to determine how snug you want it to feel. 

To measure accurately, get someone else to do it for you: a partner, child or professional tailor! You wouldn’t believe how inaccurate measurements can be if you do it yourself.

You only really need one measurement for a flat cap: the circumference of your head. Wrap the measuring tape around your head, about half a centimetre above your ear. It’s usually best to measure from the forehead and hold the tape at about the middle of your forehead, basically the widest part of your head. 

When it comes to the cap part, you want it to be moldable so you can have it straight or you can squeeze it to fit around your face more. Just don’t squeeze it too much that it starts to look like the brim of a baseball cap!

Mens flat cap

How to wear a flat cap: top tips

Flat caps are traditional in style and design. It’s one of those trends that does come back into fashion every few years but for country folk, you’ll wear yours a lot more. Because of this, you need it to be as versatile as possible. We’ve rounded up a couple of our top tips when it comes to choosing and wearing a flat cap.

Stick with a classic cut, colour and design: This is not the style of hat to go bold and unique with. Keeping it a simple colour or pattern means you’ll get maximum wear out of it. Think classic countryside style and you’ll be set for a long time.

Wear it properly: It should sit on your head properly, not too far back or too far forwards. And by no means should you ever wear it backwards (unless it’s part of a fancy dress costume). Only Samuel L. Jackson can wear a flat cap backwards and still look cool.

Think about the fabric: Whilst you will want a thicker, wool style for autumn and winter, they will be too heavy to wear during the warmer months. If you know you’ll wear it a lot, consider lightweight cotton styles or linen material too.However, it could be best to find an alternative hat style for spring and summer! Don’t forget that the lining and sweatband are just as important too. They must be breathable and easy to wipe clean after every wear!

Double check the sizings: Some companies fit by measurements, some like us do S-M-L style sizing. You will need to take a look at the sizing guides on each style to check that it will fit you properly. An ill-fitting flat cap is a big no-no!

    Wearing a flat cap: casual

    When we say casual, we do not mean jogging bottoms and dirty trainers. Think going to the shops or running errands. Loungewear is a strict no as this is an outfit that would be acceptable to leave the house in! Straight leg jeans are the foundation piece for a casual outfit. Stick with dark colours, such as indigo, black and grey, so you can add colour on other items. You want the flat cap to be the focal point too.

    Classic crew-neck T-shirts and polo shirts keep the look casual but still put-together. Make sure they’re in pristine condition and fit well as just because your look is casual, it doesn’t mean sloppy!

    Footwear can be anything from canvas trainers to leather boots. Just make sure they’re clean because nothing ruins an outfit more than untidy footwear.

    Layering is key to a casual outfit so you could throw on an open shirt, a gilet or a thin jacket here. 

    Wearing a flat cap: smart-casual

    Smart-casual dressing is often easier than you think. Adding a flat cap will instantly smarten up most looks so you’re already one step ahead of everyone else. As it says in the style, it’s a mix between casual and comfy with smart and formal. This is the sort of outfit you’d wear to family gatherings or meals out at a gastropub. 

    Again, straight leg jeans work just as well here. You could also try chinos in a classic beige, navy or khaki shade if you’d prefer something comfier than jeans.

    A classic country checked shirt is perfect for smart-casual outfits. We’d like to think that you have them in your wardrobe already so wear your favourite!

    Sleek boots add to the smart style of the outfit. Whether you go for leather or suede is up to you but go for sleek styles, such as Chelsea boots. Chunky boots will look too casual.

    You can’t go wrong with a tweed blazer for a smart-casual look. It smartens up the look along with the flat cap to give your outfit an extra edge and country feel. 

    Wearing a flat cap: dressy / formal

    Formalwear scares a lot of people but we’re not necessarily talking weddings here. Other events might require a dressy outfit but not black tie. Countryside gatherings basically require a flat cap to blend in!

    • This is where you can brush off your tweed suit hiding in the wardrobe. Of course you can wear the jacket or trousers alone but pair both together for really formal events. You could even pop on a waistcoat too.
    • Once again, a simple checked shirt will ensure you look the part and keep that countryside look intact. 
    • Formal footwear is just code for office footwear. Smart brogues and loafers look so stylish when paired with a tweed suit but if it is an outdoor event, Chelsea boots work just as well.

    Flat caps are not as difficult to wear as you might have once thought. Gone are the days when you had to wear it with a full three-piece tweed suit, although it still looks just as dressy now than it did back then! It’s so easy to style a flat cap casually nowadays, especially when the items required will already be in your wardrobe.

    A traditional flat cap will see you through years of wear and a whole host of occasions and outfits. You know here at Rydale, the more you can wear an item, the more we love it! Wear that flat cap every day with pride!

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