Boys' Caps: Countries

Figure 1.--The flat cap was the standard style for American boys during the early 20th century, especially in the 1910s and 20s. It was worn in the early 40s, but had gone out of style by the end of the decade.

Today boys all over the world now seem to wear the same cap style--baseball caps. Many boys do not wear caps at all, except in the winter. It is difficult to understand how diverse boys' headwear used to be. Boys from different countries once differed signicantly as to the caps they wore. American boys wore flat caps, British boys peaked school caps, and French boys berets. Some basic information about cap trends in different countries include the following. Caps like some other clothing items had strong age conotations in many countries.


We believe that the traditional peaked scchool cap appeared in Britain in the 1850s, bit we have few details at this time. The peaked cap eventually became the standard headwear for the British school boy. Sailor suits were first worn with briad-brimmed sailor hats, but by the late 19th centurty, sailor caps had become more common.



No cap is more associated with German boys that the sailor cap This was a major style by the 1890s and was worn into the 1930s. Curiously some boys wore sailor suits with a kind of peaked army caps. This was especially common for schoolwear. During an after World War II, another army style, the Schirmmütze. It was also worn as part of the Hitler Youth winter uniform.

United States

We see some military style caps in America during the 1850s, probably influenced by the Mexican War. A good example is an unidentified boy, wearing a tunic outfit. The most common cap for younger boys in the late 19th century was the wide-brimmed sailor caps. American boys at the turn of the 20th century favored flat caps until about the late 1930's. Then, for a time (1940s to about the mid 1950s) some boys wore a felt or cloth cap that looked a bit like a crown - roundish top with a short, turned up brim cut into a series of peaks. In the "Archie" comic books, Archie's pal, Jughead, wore this style of cap, as did Jeff's (Tommy Rettig) friend, "Porky", from the early televised Lassie series. Baseball caps weren't common where I grew up until the late 1950's. Younger boys for dress wear wore peaked Englisgh school-type, usually in balck or grey. Possibly, this reflected the influx of early baby boomers into Little League baseball, swelling their ranks in number. Baseball caps seem to be in a "line of succession" of boys' caps. Major league baseball players from the late 19th century are depicted as wearing a cap with a flatter crown and smaller brim than today's caps. Some HNC readers note that the appearance is not unlike a Civil War era kepi (except for the crown) and contend that this could well be the origin of the baseball cap. HBC is not convinced of this and thinks the English school/cricket cap is a more likely choice as to the origins of the baseball cap.


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Created: April 23, 2001
Last updated: 3:28 AM 8/30/2010