Boys and men wore hats and caps much more commonly in the past. Beginning in the 1950s head gear, except for
baseball caps became much less common. Boys wore very formal caps in the
late 19th century, many variatiins of sailor hats
In addition to these formals hats, many more informal caps have been worn
by boys. A cap is a close-fitting head covering resembling a hat, but differing
principally because of the absence of a brim or by having a brim that
only partially circumvents the crown.
Figure 1.--This boy making a presentation to the Queen and is in a formal Scottish outfits sports a Tam O'Shanter
trade-mark dangling black ribbon. Note the Eton collar which helps dates the picture to the
I have just begun collecting information on this subject, but
some of the head gear to be covered include:
- Pill box: Caps based on the uniform caps worn by British soldiers
during the mid and late 19th century. Adopted by some Boys' Brigade
units. Eventually used extensively by hotel pages.
- Campaign caps: I'm not sure how this style developed, but would
appreciate any insights you might have.
- Tam O'Shanter: This is one of the best known poems of Scottish poet Robert Burns. It
was based on the popular belief that no evil spirits can pass the middle of
a running stream. The hero is pursued by witches for disturbing their
dance at Alloway Kirk, and suceeds in crossing the River Doon in saftey. I
have first noticed the caps in mid-19th century paintings of boys wearing
kilts. I'm not sure when the caps first appeared or why they were named
after Burns' hero.
- Peaked caps: Peaked caps first appeared in England at cricket
matches and schoolboy
uniforms and were commonly worn through the 1950s. British school caps while of
the same basic design came in a wide variety of colors and paterns
(including pie wedges and cirles). Today they are rarely seen except at cricket matches
and a few traditional prep schools. The style was adopted by American baseball
players in the late 19th century. When Cub scouts were formed it became part
of the basic uniform in most countries. British cubs continue to wear the
traditional cap, but American cubs in the 1980s changed to baseball caps. Well
dressed American boys wearing suits in the 1920s-30s often wore solid
colored peaked caps. This was less common in Britain as boys were more likely to
wear their school caps.
- Berets:The beret is a soft round visorless cap. It is traditiinally associated
with French schooboys and smocks. It was worn by small boys in America during the 1920s and 30s,
but was generally viewed as a girls cap in America. Military groups began wearing berets in
the Second World War. Some Scout groups such as the British Scouts and individual American
Scout units wear berets.
- Beanies: American boys wore beanies in the 1920s and 30s. Often pins and
badges of various sort adorned them as well as novelty propellers.
- Baseball: Baseball caps were worn almost exclusvely for playing baseball and in
the United States. Since the 1960s baseball caps have become virtually the
only headgear worn by American boys and in the 1990s worn backwards. Beginning
in the mid-1980s baseball caps have spread virtually all over the world and
are worn by boys who have neve played baseball.
- Cowboy: This American classic is now rarely seen except in some of
the Western states.
- Coon-skin: The Walt Disney Davey Crocket movie caused a
fad for coon-skin caps for American boys in the 1950s
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Last updated: March 26, 1998