Flat Cap

A patchwork tweed flat cap made by Hanna Hats of Donegal.

In my youth I never wore hats or caps – it wasn’t the done thing at the time, and, on the rare occasions I tried donning headgear, nothing seemed a good fit on my outsized cranium. My first winter in Sweden brought weather colder than I’d hitherto experienced, highlighting a necessity for some kind of skull insulation, and prompted me to acquire the first of a few beanie-style hats. For a little while longer, though, I continued to go bare-headed in all but the frostiest conditions.

During the daily round of dog-walks and of bus-trips back and forth to the office over the years that followed, I would increasingly often resort to donning a beanie, and would ponder from time to time whether some other type of head covering might work better for me. At length, in 2007, I decided to order some felt hats, and a couple of flat caps, having sought out on-line vendors catering for the larger-headed. I briefly tried to pretend otherwise, but the felt hats were not a success. They did not look good on me. On the other hand, I was straightaway at home in a flat cap. I found them practical and comfortable, and felt, moreover, that they suited me very well. I could see why my paternal grandfather had seldom been without one.

I ordered my first caps from Hanna Hats of Donegal, among them a patchwork cap like the one above. Regrettably, that one, and a couple of its replacements, ended up mislaid and lost. The one in the picture is (I think) my fourth, though I’ve held on to this latest example for a good nine years. I currently have another three caps, two of them of good Harris tweed, the last an unbranded green wool cap bought from a market stall in Monmouth.

When I first started wearing flat caps, others sometimes joked of them (if they mentioned them at all) as being ‘farmer hats’. Since 2013, and the advent on TV of Peaky Blinders – which helped re-popularise such caps – some now suppose I wear them because of the show. I gather it’s an impressively well-made production, but I’ve yet to catch so much as a minute of it.