I've shown evidence of my flat-cap wearing in a previous post. Some people continue to mock it, but most have got used to my new head covering. However, as is my way, it's not been enough for me to wear a flat cap; I've now become a fanatic.
I've worn caps for as long as I can remember. Firstly, as a brief fashion statement and later as a means of protecting my badling head from the heat of the Sun or the cold of Winter. However, my foray into flat-capdom is a recent innovation, driven by the feeling that I'm too old for baseball caps. That may simply reflect where we live; I don't particularly want to look like a 15-year boy racer!
To those of you completely unaware of these divine accessories, flat caps are normally made from Wool, tweed, or similar soft materials, with a small peak at the front. Their history goes back to 14th century Ireland, though some say they were worn by English farmers even before that. The flat cap certainly existed before the Scottish beret, though it is possible that both ultimately derived from the French bonnet.
They were popular with working class men in the 19th century. There use by farmers lead to their association with outdoor country pursuits and they eventually also came to be adopted by the upper classes. They were popular with boys in the late 19th and early 20th century, as can be seen by their stereotypical appearance in films seeking to convey "cockney" children from that era. Later on, Cloth caps were seen as a desirable fashion item by young men in the 1920s.
Apparently, now the flat cap has become an icon of fashion in the South of England, as well as being donned by such celebrities as Samuel L. Jackson, Guy Ritchie, David Gray, Cuga Gooding Jnr., Brad Pitt, Chris Rock, David Beckham, Daniel Craig, Gary Jules... (I cannot express how gutted I am to see the caps popularity. My only consolation is that my current fashionable status is a complete accident, hopefully soon to be followed by my own slide back into the role of the embarrassing Dad!)
I'm not sure where my current cap craze comes from, aside from an apparently obsessive and adolescent need to be quirky. However, I suspect that it has something to do with: 1) Reverse Snobbery and 2) Folk Music.
My Grandfather used to wear a flat-cap all the time. I can picture him now. In fact, I'm not sure that I can remember him not wearing one! It suited him as much as anything has ever suited anyone. It wasn't just a piece of cloth on his head; it was a major part of his working-class identity. And now it's part of mine!
But, if my proud working-class heritage laid the foundations for my cappage, it was my love of folk music that final settled it. Rightly, or wrongly, the two are associated in people's minds - at least, in England. And there's a part of me that thinks anyone who plays Bob Dylan songs on a ukulele has to wear a flat cap!