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Irish Caps for Men and Women: A Straight-Forward Guide to Flat Caps

Ward Gahan

Whether you’re a lifelong wearer of Irish caps or have been browsing through our website searching for your first one, knowing the differences between the many monikers given to men’s and women’s caps can be difficult. 

In this two-part blog series, you will learn the skinny on Biddy Murphy’s most popular caps:

Flat Caps

Newsboy Caps

Here’s what you will learn about each cap: 

  • How these stylish caps are made
  • Their rich Irish history
  • Most importantly-how to wear these stylish caps

What’s In a Name? 

Sometimes Irish caps for men are also referred to as Irish HATS for men. This battle of the HATfields vs. the McCAPS has stumped many a scholar of Irish goods. The word “cap” is more traditional - and is the word most of our suppliers use - so that’s what you’ll see our blogs.  Don’t worry, no judgment if you call them something else! 

Flat Caps

Let’s start with the most popular cap-the flat cap. This cap is a classic with a history of incredible and evolving style. Today, the flat cap is a wardrobe staple for men and women of all ages. The versatility of a traditional flat cap can be the finishing touch to a casual look, or the perfect accessory for a more professional appearance. 

A Wee Bit of History 

 Flat caps can be traced back to the 14th century Northern England when it was typically called a “bonnet.” In the late 1500s, English Parliament was enacted to stimulate the consumption of domestic wool and general trade. In this act, it was required that all males over the age of six, were to wear woolen caps on Sundays and holidays or pay a daily fine. Of course, this act did not include nobility of those males with degrees.

Flat caps became wildly popular in the 19th century in both Ireland and England among working-class men. Eventually, the aristocracy adopted the caps and considered them as suitable, casual countryside wear.  

Today, flat Caps remain a timeless style accessory, perfectly finishing off a casual or more formal wardrobe.  Well-known celebrities, such as actor Ryan Gosling, John Hamm and Brad Pitt, wear these very stylish caps. Flat caps are not exclusive to men, and they look fabulous and equally as elegant on women. 

The Flat Cap’s Brother-The Driving Cap

The driving cap - also known as a touring cap, gatsby cap, or a scally cap - is the flat cap’s more shapely brother. A more form fitting cap, the driving cap is higher in the back, giving it a more curved appearance than the standard flat cap. 

The driving cap is named after men who drove wealthy folks around in the 19th and 20th centuries. The hat is designed for both professionalism and comfort, as these drivers would wear them day after day. Now, modern wearers get to reap the benefits of this well-designed cap. You can check out Biddy’s reiteration of the refined cap here. 

Construction of the Flat Cap

The timeless style of the flat cap is the remarkable way they are made. Flat caps are constructed from a single piece of fabric, typically tweed, on the top and then sewn down the brim, creating the naturally ‘flat’ appearance, hence the name. These caps can be easily folded into a pocket, satchel,  and even a duffle bag, and always retain their smooth and flat shape. 

Also known as ‘ivy caps, flat caps use a variety of fabrics and patterns to create a timeless look. Imagine how dapper you or your favorite Irishman or woman can look in this herringbone fleck cap. 

Originally flat caps were worn to protect the head from the cold and unpredictable Irish winters, which is why they are traditionally tweed. However, linen flat caps are popular in the spring and summer seasons.  Biddy Murphy carries a linen flat cap  and due to the lighter material, this flat cap differs a little in design - borrowing from the newsboy’s panel design (which you will learn more about in the second series of this blog) this cap features three-panel construction. 

How to Wear a Flat Cap

Style is indeed unique to the individual. We would like to offer several suggestions on how to sport a flat cap. Of course, you are free to wear your flat cap however you wish. 

Do

:

  • Embrace the versatility of a flat cap, wearing it to work, on date night to your favorite restaurant, or dress up a casual look.
  • Pick a hat that fits snugly - it will feel weird if it’s too loose! 
  • Save the tweed caps for the colder season. If you want to wear a flat cap during the summer, break out one of our stylish linen caps. 
  • Wear wool coats or vests that are an EXACT color/pattern match or completely different color/pattern so that they don’t clash. 
  • Bend the brim to match your personal needs - if you like your cap to frame your face, then go for it! 

DON’T:

  • Wear your cap unsnapped or backwards! When you do that, you risk looking unprofessional or just plain silly. 

There you have it-a straightforward guide to the flat cap. We would love to see how you wear your flat cap. Please feel free to post your stylish photo on our Facebook Page.


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Owner & CEO Ward Gahan
A Little About Us

BiddyMurphy.com is a global online retailer for beautifully handcrafted Celtic gifts. We work with a variety of Irish artisans to source authentic jewelry, clothing, and home goods that make unique Irish gifts for all occasions. Some of our best sellers include Celtic Crosses, Trinity Knot necklaces, Irish blessings for the home, and gorgeous wool Irish caps, aran knit sweaters, scarves and blankets. We offer free shipping site wide as well as free returns and easy exchanges.

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