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Cloth cap ‘class’.

Posted by Big John on March 16, 2007

copy-d-mates.jpgToday very few men wear hats, unless it is that American import, the baseball cap, or perhaps a woolen ‘tea cosy’ pulled down over their ears in winter.

To me the baseball cap always looks somehow out of place on the more mature Englishman (although, on occasion, I have been known to wear one), and looks completely ridiculous when worn at all angles on the heads of the ‘hip hop’ generation.alf-hat.jpg

In my youth the flat cap was worn by many men and was still very much a symbol of the ‘working class’ in this country, as it had been in my father’s day when just about everyone wore one, including children, as shown in the picture of my uncle Alf (right) which was taken during the 1920s . Even my grandmother is said to have worn a man’s cap (with hatpin) in the early days of the last century.

sawing-2.jpgMy dad wore a flat cap for all of the fiftyone years that he worked as a railway carpenter, as you can see from the photographs of him taken during the 1930s. He is the one with the saw, and the one (top left) sitting in front of the two ‘dodgy’ looking characters, who I guess were his mates at the time.

Today the few people who wear caps include my old git ‘hero’ Victor Meldrew  (may he rest in peace), and that prize prat Charlie when his valets dress him up to go pissing about in the countryside.

Somehow I can’t see the old cloth cap coming back in a big way, although flat caps of a sort have been seen in recent years as fashion accessories worn by the likes of Madonna, Kate Moss and the movie star Samuel L. Jackson, although he looks almost as big a prat as our ‘clown prince’ as he insists on wearing his back to front ! … These caps are normally of the ‘cheese cutter’ design and are not to be confused with the ‘classic’ British working man’s cap of yesteryear, which had a rather large circular low crown with a stiff peak which was attached to the overlapping front of the soft crown by a press stud. The cap was made of mar-1927.jpg woollen cloth or tweed and not some fancy soft fabric, tartan or leather.

In the past men had caps for work and ones that were for ‘Sunday best’ and holidays, but they were all made of the same thick material and hardly what you would call ideal beachwear; but this did not seem to bother my dad as he sat with my mother (dark dress) on the sands at Margate in 1927.

I have a rather smart tweed ‘Country Club’ cap,which is nothing like the cap worn by my father, but I’m sure that he wouldn’t object if I raised it now and then to the likes of him and his fellow working men of that …

…        almost forgotten cloth cap era.


16 Responses to “Cloth cap ‘class’.”

  1. Ginnie said

    I love hats on men…it’s fun to see which ones they choose. Recently my daughter bought her husband a hat styled after the ones I think of as worn by big game hunters, with the double strap under the chin. He has a wild mop of long hair and the hat makes him look like a movie star !

  2. Longrider said

    Another famous cap man was my old hero Fred Dibnah. My choice of headgear is the wide brimmed western style hat pulled low over the eyes.

  3. jayward said

    We used to call those caps poor boy hats, although most men from that era in Canada wore fedoras.

    That Samual Jackson style was all the rage here for awhile as even our Olympic team wore a version of it. Now we rarely see them at all. The baseball hat worn at silly angles always tempts me to give the wearer a smack up along side the head.

    Then you look into their eyes an realize that ther is no one home and laugh to yourself as they 85 their way down the street. An eight five is four points from being a moron. ha ha


  4. Jackshian said

    I’ve been wearing a cheese cutter for many years as they’re perfect when working on outside jobs in the winter (balaclavas not being a great idea these days .. especially if the armed response unit is about) and the wife says I might as well look like Victor Meldrew as I sound like him anyway.

    I’m with JWL on the morons and their silly angled caps .. very tempting to smack ’em in the head and try to knock some sense in.

  5. Jackshian said

    And great pictures John .. as usual.

  6. Libertine said

    Americans wore these hats, too, back in the 1920s and 1930s. I’ve seen photos of city street scenes from the 1910s and 20s, and I notice that every person, without exception, is wearing a hat of some kind.

    When I was growing up in the sixties, neither of my parents wore hats, other than winter hats to keep warm, never for fashion. I think my mother would sometimes wear one to go to church on Easter Sunday, but that was about it. My dad began wearing hats in his old age, mainly as a way to protect his balding head from the sun.

    I hate baseball caps and I don’t own a single one. I never wear a hat, except if it gets very cold in winter. I had a black leather flat cap when I was in college, but I rarely wore it.

  7. Betty said

    My dad never left the house without a hat. And, ladies always wore hats and gloves when they went out.

  8. Oscarandre said

    Love these photographs, John. Kids in Australia wear hats alot now due to skin cancer and the fact that schools have a “No hat, no play” policy. It will be interesting to seee if it lasts into adulthood. I’m afraid that there is still a preponderance of your countrymen (tourists) on the beaches without hats – due no doubt to the fact that they are going to get the most out of the holiday sunshine. But, with the highest inscidence of skin cancer in the world, we have learnt over here that there is a price to pay for that tan.

  9. Terri said

    I also love these flat caps and think in the States they were called “newspaper boy caps.” At any rate, I have a black, woolen, one which I love to wear when it’s chilly.

  10. Lloyd said

    I come from Australia and I own 85 flatcap of all descriptions and have worn them since 1994. I really hate baseball caps and the fools who wear them esp. older guys bullied by socity to do so and I see a flatcap as a true “gentleMANS” cap.
    I have proudly worn them for 14 years and will continue to do so till the day I die.
    And Im proud of those older guys who wear them as well and often tip my cap to them as a “allo” and a sign of tradional pride.

  11. Big John said

    Thanks for the comment Lloyd. Australia: does that mean that you have a cap with corks hanging from it ? 🙂

  12. Lloyd said

    I am yet to find a flatcap with corks on it thou that would be a novelty. My caps are all British style ones. I find the style extreamly sexy When I see an older chap in cap I cant help but feal a surge of pride. Sorry if I sound sexist and to any ladies reading this but the style does not work on females as I am very old school in thought and see a flatcap as a male only cap. To me it just looks wrong on a lady. Making the style Unisex confuses and may even put off fresh blood in choosing one and it would be a shame if the style died off.
    That is only how I feel

  13. Lloyd said

    Hello to all

    I have never really been a fan of Prince Charles but he looks good in a Greenwoods and the other chap is wearing a tan Turnio. I have worn them for so long I can ID the style on sight.
    Like I said before I appogize for my comments about the fairer gender wearing the cap. Its just that I dont get the exact response and often wish that flatcaps were commonly worn again as they are timeless style and unlike the Bowler or Top hat they are flexabile with any style be it suit or casual. Plus they can fold over and can fit into a coat pocket or suitcase. If you try that with a baseball cap the brim would snap off.
    Baseball caps are pathtic and I wish that style had died off long ago. I will NEVER wear one (baseball caps that is).

  14. Tim said

    Could you please explain the difference in the old style flat caps and the new, I have an old one that i lost and it stands up made out of thick material and 2 that fall down, is it just the material that makes them thick?

    And if you know anywhere to buy that, somewhere you have personaly bought one.

    Thank you

  15. Hello, Big John
    I found this wonderful blog Googleing images for flat hats. I always get very excited, as I am now, when I find a new interesting blogger. Very nice to meet your acquaintance. Looking forward to many hours of blissful reading. Love the pictures. Very kind of you to share them and so much of yourself with all of us.
    Thanks, Velvet

  16. Big John said

    Thanks for the comments, Tim and ‘Velvetbeaches’.

    I’m sorry, but I’m no expert on hat making, Tim. I guess It’s just the thickness of the old tweed fabrics.

    Glad you enjoy my old posts, Velvet. At the moment I’m taking a rest from blogging, but I expect that I will be back one day.

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