Monday, May 21, 2012

Some Nice Caps

I have done a few posts about things that “look” cool, but in fact I have not used… well this time I am going to talk about a few things I have. So here is my ode to caps.

Cycling Caps:
If you want to go with the classic cycling look, something you can tuck under a helmet, and is still easily look stylish in at stops, you can’t beat a cycling cap.

First I will go with an obvious call and say Walz Caps makes wonderful caps… but I feel like that's saying Pepsi or Coke make wonderful colas. Walz, who seems to have their ads all over the place, carries two basic styles, a three panel that makes ones face seem thinner, and a four panel style that gives a great rounded look. They all seat deep on your head, and I find the wool sucks up a lot of sweat on a warm day. If you aren't a wool person, they also have cotton, hemp blends, and wick away poly caps.

Three Panel

Four Panel

A lesser known maker is Alloneword, a small shop out of California, that makes custom caps. While the cotton cap I bought doesn’t really fall into the Tweed Ride style (it is really on the loud side), Mary Elizabeth the owner/operator of this Etsy shop will pretty much make you anything you like. Her cap fits well, and rides higher on my head than my Walz Caps, something people with smaller heads may prefer. Half the fun of this cap was that the owner made me exactly what I wanted. So while you may buy yourself a sweet Our Lady of Guadalupe cap, I am sure it will not look just like mine. Now if you want something more tweedish, there are also wool caps (see below).

Flat Caps:
Unlike cycle caps, flat caps (in their vast array of styles) need to be tried on before you buy them. There are many makers, but they are not all equal, not only is there a difference in quality, there is also a difference in shape/fit. While some are cut to fit someone with a round head, others are cut to fit someone with a long, thin cranium like the author. It is also important to think of the look that you want to pull off. Some caps are intended to have "puffy" side, while others to give a streamlined effect.

My original venture into the Flat Cap arena was with two high end caps from TLS Classics. Both were form there Harris Tweed Collection, made in the USA, and of the classic Ivy Cap cut. While many people make similar caps, I have found none that fit my head as well.

A few years later I picked up two Pub style caps from Stefeno, and while I also like these caps, the main selling point at the time was that they cost about one sixth of the price of my  originals so I didn’t care if they got used or abused. I did not realize until I started writing this post that Stefeno/TLS are apparently the same company. (I don't think this was always true, but it is hard to find info about the hat/cap market.) All four caps are well built, and have gotten many complements over the years.

Ivy Cap

Pub Cap

While I personally think the Ivy Cap cut is more sophisticated, and I will almost always wear this with a suit coat, the Pub Cap, with its deep seat, works better while riding your bike fast, or on windy days. Lately I find myself choosing the Pub Cap more often than not.

I have also picked up a nice pub cap from New York Hat Company. The wool is much lighter then the above listed caps (definitely nice on hot summer days) and also has an elastic hat band that gives it a more universal fit. Where the elastic on most cycling caps is pretty obvious, this hat hides it in a way that you are the only one who knows it is there, but it adds to the security of the hat on a windy day.  (This seem trivial until your hat is blown in a multi-lane road,  then it's not as funny).

While most warm days I don't mind a light wool cap, there are those days were fashion is not worth the heat. For this reason I picked up a 100% linen Ivy Cap form Cavanagh Hats. While they are better known for their wool/fur felt hats, I really liked this linen hat not only because it is light, but because unlike many cotton/linen/summer Flat Caps, it kept the streamlined look of the wool caps that I love.

There are other great hat companies that people have recommended to me like Scala, Kangol, Broner, Bailey and others that I don't recall off the top of my head, but so far I have not invested in their wares. Feel free to leave a comment about types you have tried! 

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