A Gentleman’s Guide to Irish Flat Caps
Looking to get some of that eye-catching Irish style? There’s no easier way than with an Irish flat cap! Here is your ultimate guide to choosing and wearing an Irish flat cap like a true gentleman.
What exactly is an Irish flat cap?
The Irish flat cap goes by many names – the scully cap and newsboy cap are most commonly used, but it can also be called a cabbie, duffer, crook cap, an Irish scally cap, and more. This type of hat is recognizable by its rounded shape and small stiff brim in the front. Commonly lined for comfort and warmth, these caps are usually made from tweed or wool. There are numerous popular brands of flat caps, including The Quiet Man caps, designed after the popular movie starring John Wayne.
The history and evolution of the Irish flat cap
The history of this quintessential Irish accessory is an interesting one. The style of these caps can be traced as far back as the 14th century when they were referred to as bonnets and worn throughout Northern England.
But these caps did not become truly widely worn until the 16th century. Whereas many other recognizable accessories were popularized purely because of their aesthetic appeal, there are other factors in play when it comes to the flat cap. Namely, in 1571, the English Parliament wanted to stimulate the domestic consumption of wool and general trade, so they enacted a rule stating that all male persons over the age of 6 (excluding nobility), must wear a woolen cap or pay a fine on Sundays and holidays.
“When the English Parliament wanted to stimulate the domestic consumption of wool, they made wearing caps mandatory.”
Although the Act was repealed in 1597, the flat cap still became a recognizable accessory of the working class. This continued through the 19th and 20th century, when they were also worn by upper-class men and boys.
In the United States, flat caps became popular in the 1820s, and was worn for all occasions – school and work, casual and formal.
The popularity of this type of headgear waned in the late 20th century but has begun making a re-emergence in recent years as a fun style choice that blends the look of a gentleman with the heart of a rebel.
Choosing a perfect traditional Irish flat cap for your style
With so many flat caps to choose from, it can be challenging to decide on one and be sure that it will make you look like a stylish gentleman, rather than a shabby extra from Peaky Blinders. So here are a few tips from your friendly Irish guides on how to select a flat cap that will make you turn heads:
Choose the right fit
The easiest mistake to make when selecting a flat cap is choosing one that does not fit properly. If you have never worn a flat cap before, you can easily make the mistake of buying and wearing one that is simply not the right size, depreciating your style in the process.
The easiest way of determining the right fit is by taking a measuring tape and measuring the circumference of your head. Make sure to place the tape measure in the middle of your forehead. Our flat caps have handy sizing details that will enable you to choose the right size easily if you have a measurement.
A lot of the time, your head circumference won’t be a perfect fit for a particular size – when in doubt, to for a larger size, as having a hat that is too small might cause headaches.
If you have the correct size, the cap should fit with the sides hugging your head right above the ears, and the brim relatively low on your forehead, shading your eyes.
Choose the right color or pattern
Flat caps come in two different basic designs – the single colored ones, and the patterned ones.
If you are planning to wear your flat cap with a solid color suit, go for a patterned hat. On the other hand, if you want to add a flat cap to a style that already combines patterns and different colors, a solid color flat cap is a great choice. Materials that are too similar do not complement each other, but rather cause the look to be mismatched. So if your style already encompasses patterns, choose a solid cap or a neutral color. Neutral colors are also great for day-to-day wear, while patterned ones give that extra bit of oomph if you want to stand out from the crowd during a night out or a special occasion.
Choose the right flat cap style & materials
The two main styles of these caps are the so-called newsboy and classic styles.
The newsboy style is the one you often see on Peaky Blinders, and it’s characterized by a rounder top and a “button”. The other most popular style is the classic Irish flat cap. It has a rounded top but no “button”.
Both styles are appropriate for various occasions, so the choice between the two is a personal one. In general, if you have a rounder face, the newsboy cap will be a better fit as it will visually make your head narrower.
On the other hand, for those with a narrower face and a strong bone structure, the classic cap is a visually more appealing choice.
When it comes to materials, flat caps are usually made from wool or tweed. Tweed is making a re-emergence as a fashion statement right now, so if you want to be on point with trends, an Irish tweed cap is the way to go. On the other hand, wool is a bit warmer, so if you want to wear your hat in rougher winters, get one of our lovely wool flat caps.
A Gentleman’s Tips for Wearing Flat Caps With Style
If you have never worn a flat cap before, putting together an outfit that looks great can be difficult. So here are some tips on how to pull it all together and make it work for you.
Don’t try too hard
Many people make this basic mistake when wearing flat caps – they try too hard. Matching the cap with your vest, then your coat, then your shoes – this can all result in a very erratic look. If the cap is the exact same pattern or color is your clothes, it can come off looking as if you are trying too hard – which is the opposite of cool.
So go back to basics when wearing a flat cap – what you want to be saying is “Oh, I just threw this on and walked out of the house”.
Flat caps make a strong statement on their own – so let your cap do the talking.
Don’t tilt the cap to expose your forehead
Although some people tilt the cap back to expose their forehead, this is a tricky look to pull off, so if you don’t have much experience in fashion, and are not David Beckham, we recommend sticking to the traditional way of wearing flat caps.
Don’t wear flat caps backwards
Trust us on this one – Just don’t.
Don’t go overboard with the old-fashioned look
If you want to get that old-fashioned look, don’t make the mistake of going overboard! Combining flat caps with vintage vests, jackets and sweaters can make you look like you just stepped out of a history book.
And while it might look eye-catching, that is not real fashion – it’s playing a character. So if you want to look like a modern man with style that likes the old-fashioned look, make sure to keep it under check and not go overboard.
Combine flat caps with modern outfits
If you want to turn heads with your look, make your whole outfit a modern one – and then just throw in a flat cap in there. This will give your look and authentic and dynamic feel of the modern gentleman.
If you want to play it safe, wear flat caps in these outfits:
Still not sure what to wear with your Irish flat caps? Here are some safe outfit choices if you want to be sure to look your best:
- Striped gray suit, dark gray vest, white shirt, green flat cap
- Brown tweed suit, blue shirt, red vest, white pants, brown shoes, brown flat cap
- White button-down shirt, cuffed jeans, brown shoes, suspenders, brown flat cap
- Gray tweed jacket, white shirt, black pants, patterned green flat cap
- Brown checkered vest, white shirt, brown pants, brown flat cap
- Black t-shirt, black jeans, denim jacket, brown shoes, dark green flat cap
- Light gray sweater, dark blue jeans, dark blue coat, black shoes, gray flat cap
- Dark pants, white button-down shirt, patterned flat cap
- Blue cardigan, jeans, brown boots, white shirt, brown flat cap