How To Make A Flat Cap Work

Flat caps are a great hat choice for men. but only if you get them right!

Now normally I wouldn’t start an article by being negative, I prefer to get straight into actionable advice and my selection recommendations. But for this article I’ve decided to start by going over what you shouldn’t do. The internet kicked off recently over a soccer pundit’s choice of headwear during a recent Premier League game:

Flat caps can easily be styled poorly. You will notice that here the legendary, retired footballer Alan Shearer has opted for an oversized and baggy flat cap. Sadly it does not suit him at all. I’m not even a huge fan of this pairing because in these photos it looks like he’s trying to cosplay the popular TV show Peaky Blinders. I don’t think there is anyone that can pull off this oversized style of cap, at least not in a way that sits with current trends. We can at least get some use out of this example though as a lesson in what not to do.

What to do instead

As I preach covering any style of headwear getting it right breaks down into two stages: selection and pairing.

With flat caps the same rules apply as with picking the best baseball cap. We are looking for something that is tidy and well fitted. I like all my hats to be elegant, sleek, and minimalist.  Most importantly, it can’t make your head look any bigger than it already is. My recommendation is the five panel flat cap, this manages to both capture the aesthetic we’re looking for. Here is Instagram model magic_fox modelling the style of flat cap I like best:

Credit – @magic_fox

H&M UK have the sort of cap I recommend here: (not an affiliate link)

When pairing a flat cap, it is crucial to keep in mind the style you are going for with the overall outfit. Although we shouldn’t define a whole outfit by the accessory, when you do choose to wear a flat cap you have limited the styles that you can go for.

Here are a few acceptable combinations to choose from:

Suits and overcoats

I’m going to entertain the Peaky Blinders inspired look for this one. Let’s see if we can do this right. The beauty of the flat cap is that it is a piece of headwear that can be combined with very smart clothing options. I suggest with this in mind you opt for a full suit and wool blend overcoat for the cold months.

For colour co-ordination match the colour of the overcoat to the flat cap selected. Alternatively, you can match the colour of the cap to the suit or you can go for light dark contrast. Ensure you keep to less than three colours overall when the overcoat is included.

Knitwear combination

This is a personal favourite for a smart casual look. I think a lot of guys are sleeping on knitwear nowadays and that’s a shame. When done well It can be a versatile ensemble for many an occasion and helpfully warm for those of us living with cooler temperatures most of the year round. As with everything, make sure the knitwear is well fitted and with this I think it is always better to match the colour of the top to the flat cap you pick.

Credit – Left: @charlieirons/Right: @magic-fox

Rustic Look/Aesthetic

As a kid that grew up in a rural area this one speaks to me and I would recommend that those of you who live out in the sticks take advantage of how it blends into your surroundings. Pick warmer neutral colours and lean towards such outerwear items as waxed jackets and other countryside apparel. This is the sort of flat cap style I grew up seeing and it remains a timeless option.

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Grow A Beard If You Can

I would give this advice to guys if we weren’t discussing flat caps but it is especially valid in this instance. As you can see from most of these pictures selected, the flat caps look most natural on the men that have at least some form of facial hair. Growing your beard out is a cheat code for making this style work.

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If it suits you then experiment with more casual looks

Flat caps may trend more towards smarter looks, but they can also be versatile. Don’t be afraid to play around with mixing styles if you find that this look really suits you. magic_fox is a good example fo a guy that’s happy to mix it up with accessories and has made a some casual looks work over on his Instagram:

Final Thoughts

In all honesty, flat caps are harder to pull off than a baseball cap or a beanie.

However, it is worth having a broader range of options when it comes to headwear, and an option for styling with the smarter side of your wardrobe has its utility. Hopefully, the tips and ideas in this article has given you a place to start.

Thanks for reading,

The Hatfish

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