So you’ve been eyeing up a snapback but you’re not sure how to pull it off? Well, fear not, because here at The Idle Man we’ve put together this handy guide to make sure you know what’s what when it comes to your brand new hat.Read more Men’s Style Guide features and check out our Store.
In the early half of the 20th century, a man did not leave the house without a hat. Nobody knows exactly why we collectively decided to become head-nudists – some say it was the switch from public transport to cars, some point to the enviably popular hairstyles of JFK and The Beatles – but at some point in the middle of the 20th century, men’s hats disappeared.
‘So how does that affect me?’ I hear you cry. Well nowadays, leaving the house with a hat is something of a statement. When you add a hat to an outfit, regardless of how little thought went into the decision, it looks like you’ve made an effort.
But be warned! While this can work in your favour, it doesn’t mean that you’ve suddenly found a universal answer to all of your sartorial questions. It’s an unfortunate truth that ‘making an effort’ does not automatically add up to ‘looking good’. And nothing’s worse than a statement piece that is more of an eyesore than a vision of beauty. So put your trust in us and we’ll keep you looking snappy in your snapback and help you to avoid an outfit that tries hard but falls flat.
What is a Snapback?
To the cap connoisseurs amongst us, this might sound like a silly question. But the reality is that there are so many different styles of caps out there that it’s worth taking the time to distinguish between the different types. And where better to start than the snapback itself?
The snapback is a baseball cap with a wide flat bill. It draws its name from the fastener at the back of the cap which allows the wearer to adjust its size. The six panels that form the dome of a snapback hats are rigidly structured, meaning that it is more likely to retain its original shape if it is squashed or folded. This results in a high dome at the front, providing a larger available space for text and graphics.
Snapbacks were created by New Era Caps, who continue to produce them today. The brand has strong links to the sporting world, most famously with the New York Yankees. Today, their New York snapbacks are not only popular amongst Yankee fans, but have become a part of the global fashion landscape.
What is a Fitted Baseball Cap?
A close cousin of the snapback is the fitted baseball cap. It encompasses all of the qualities of the snapback except the adjustable strap at the rear. Although this may seem an insignificant detail, it can actually make a big difference when shopping. While snapbacks are one-size-fits-all, the fitted cap comes in a variety of sizes. So make sure to try before you buy.
Fitted caps do have their advantages though. The extra space gained at the rear can be utilised for further subtle design features, such as brand logos and monogramming.
What are Trucker Hats?
Another flat-billed cap with a similar shape is the trucker hat. Often confused with snapbacks, they tend to be lower quality, with the rear four panels made of mesh. A relic of a time when American truckers were given caps as freebies, they often carry a non-branded slogan at the front almost like a bumper sticker.
What is a Visor Hat?
Moving away from the more structured styles, a classic cap that remains on trend today is the curved visor hat. Although still made from six panels, the dome is less rigid and tends to follow the shape of the head, creating a rounder finish. The real difference though is in the peak, which is curved rather than flat. Since the snapback made a comeback in the early noughties, the curved visor has experienced a lull in popularity. But with 90s nostalgia on the rise, both on the runways and the high street, expect to see much more of this headwear staple in the future.
What is a 5-panel Cap?
Finally, we have the 5-panel cap. Designed differently to all the other styles, the 5-panel is not built around one central point. Instead, it has five wider panels creating a boxier, close-fitting look. This style has experienced a huge surge in popularity in the last few years. Taking some of the focus away from the snapback, it has become synonymous with global streetwear brands such as HUF, Obey and The Quiet Life.
How to Wear a Snapback
Right, so now you know what a snapback is and you could pick one out from a police line-up. You’re probably desperate to start wearing one. But knowing how to wear a hat and knowing how to wear a cap can be tricky, so what do you do? Below you’ll find some handy tips on the dos and dont's of snapback etiquette.
If you’re a first-timer, stick to simpler styles to begin with. A plain style or one with a simple logo on the front is a great option at the beginning. As we mentioned earlier, donning a hat can already be quite a statement, especially if your friends aren’t used to seeing you wearing one. So don’t go over the top straight away.
It’s also a good idea to go with basic colours that compliment the rest of your wardrobe. Black, blue and camouflage are colours that often work well for accessories as they tend to fit in with your wardrobe as a whole. But remember this is personal to you. For example, if you like to wear warmer colours, perhaps you’d rather go for a maroon? Just make sure to think about what would work well with your favourite outfits before you buy.
If you’re a headwear veteran – or just like to go bold at all times – consider a more stand-out option to really add some oomph to your outfit. There are plenty of options out there with eye-catching colours and designs. Whether you see your hat as an up-to-date platform for a traditional paisley print or an opportunity to sport a garment entirely covered in semi-dressed women, there’s something out there for everyone.
You can also play with different types of material in your cap collection. The majority of snapbacks out there will be made of some kind of blend of wool, cotton and polyester. But if you have quite a few hats in a similar style, maybe throw in some denim, corduroy or even silk. After all, variety is the spice of life.
Don’t throw too much at one outfit though! When it comes to adding a hat into the mix, follow the same rules as you would with the rest of your clothes. If you’re wearing a heavily patterned shirt, you wouldn’t normally go for patterned trousers, and the same goes for a snapback. So if your hat is quite loud, keep the rest of your outfit pared back to really highlight your cool new headwear.
We were catapulted into the fashion world after Spike Lee called in 1996 and asked for a red Yankees cap instead of the traditional navy blue. After he wore it to that year’s World Series, everyone wanted one, including hip-hop and rock stars.
- Christopher Koch, CEO New Era Caps
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