What is the Difference Between Hats and Caps?

There are many interchangeable terms and synonyms in English, confusing for some, such as hats and caps. A cap and a hat are historical head coverings that have been worn for various purposes for many years.

They are, however, frequently used interchangeably by those who are unaware of the distinctions. Although they appear to be nearly identical, there are significant differences between these headgears.

Caps and hats are the most common, if not the only, types of headgear in the world currently. And you must know the difference between a cap and a hat because it will help you decide which headwear will suit your needs best. And that is the reason why we’re here. We’ll help you understand their difference. Ready?

What is a Cap?

A cap is essentially a hat with no brim. Its distinguishing features are the peak and the visor at the front. Well, in case you didn’t know, the back and visor of old school caps used to be mesh. But today’s designs come in various sizes and shapes, but the overall shape remains consistent.

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It should be noted that knitted ski caps may not have visors, which could be puzzling if visors are the only way to identify caps. If that ever happens, remember that the clear distinction of caps is that they never have brims.

Caps are frequently seen as casual wear accessories. 

They are also beneficial for a variety of other purposes aside from being just an accessory. For instance, they can actually provide shade or warmth during the winter season. Caps are also part of some uniforms, and athletes usually wear them.

 Types of Caps

Caps are most often made of woven and knitted fabrics, with all significant fibers and other materials such as fur, rubber, buckram, wood, and so on. If somehow the wide variety of different caps were counted, it would be in the dozens. Crazy, right? Yes, that is without even considering the most popular design style of all time, just like the ones listed below.

Baseball Cap

This is the most popular of all caps and represents a laid-back stance. The cap’s brim is much broader to cover the face and has embossed symbols on the forehead. Snapback and Dad hat are two other variations of baseball caps.

Beret Cap

Such caps are unisex and can be worn in both casual and formal settings. These have a flat crown and are soft and round, made chiefly of woven or hand-knitted wool, crocheted cotton, acrylic, and other materials. Many military and police units around the world wear these as part of their uniforms.

Visor Cap

Men often wear a visor cap, which is a sporty cap, while playing golf or tennis. They provide excellent head ventilation and provide sun protection. The adjustable Velcro on the back of the cap aids in adjusting the sides of the cap. They are the ideal complement to an activewear outfit.

What is a Hat?

A hat has two primary elements: a crown and a brim. Technically, the brim is what distinguishes a cap from a hat. Even so, a crown or brim on a hat is not always neccessary. Some hats lack both and are still referred to as such, like the Conical Asian Hat.

Nevertheless, such exceptional circumstances are uncommon, and most hats have a crown and a brim. Because the crown fits loosely over the head, some hats have a chinstrap to keep it in place.

You should also take note that the size of the brim varies from hat to hat. For instance, Trilbies have a relatively short brim which is also known as stingy brims. On the other hand, a Cartwheel Hat has a wide brim. The inclusion of a brim indeed distinguishes a hat from a cap.

Types of Hats

Hats have established themselves as timeless men’s accessories. From fedoras to bucket hats, men’s hats are a dynamic, functional, and stylish inclusion to any look. They’re also practical and appropriate for any season. Below are the most common hat types that you’ll surely like.

Fedora

Today, this felt firm-brimmed hat is back in style and a great addition to any wardrobe. Although fedoras are available in various sizes and colors, we recommend sticking to those with more neutral colors and medium sizes.

Trilby

The Trilby, a close relative of the fedora, is distinguished by its shorter brim length and slightly curved back edges. People frequently wear it with sunglasses to complete a casually dressy summer ensemble.

Pork Pie Hat

The pork pie hat, originally made of felted wool, is small and compact, with a low, flat crown and remarkably narrow brim. They look great with a slightly dressy outfit of a crisp t-shirt, loose blazer, and chinos. However, they will not look odd with jeans and a t-shirt. A go-to hat, indeed.

Caps Vs. Hats

In terms of characteristics, you will notice that there are indeed some distinct differences between the two headgears. So, we listed and summarized them in a table form for you to distinguish them easily.

Point of ComparisonCapsHats
Distinctive PartCaps usually have a visor, but there are exceptions, including the skull cap.Hats typically have a brim; however, exceptions exist, like with the cocktail hat.
CrownThe crown of a cap can be either structured or unstructured.Hats usually have a structured crown, but some exemptions, such as a foldable Opera hat.
MaterialTypically made of softer materials like cotton, canvas, and wool.It can be made of a tougher material like felt or straw.
FitIt has a snug fit; that’s why it is more stable.It has a loose fit, so it is less stable. That’s why a chinstrap is typically used to improve stability.
FoldabilityUnstructured caps fold up easily.Most hats are non-foldable.
TypesA wide range of cap styles is available, including the Ascot Cap, Fiddler Cap, Baseball Cap, Skull Cap, and Beret.A broad range of hat styles is available, including the Fedora, Top hat, Bowler hat, and Boater hat.
When to WearYou can wear caps on Casual and Semi-Formal occasions.You can wear hats on Casual, Semi-Formal, and Formal occasions.
AdvantagesCaps are appropriate sportswear due to their snug fit. Furthermore, they require little or no wind protection. Moreover, because the visor is typically smaller, they cause fewer visibility issues. Finally, they provide the wearer with a relaxed appearance.The wide brim provides adequate rain and sun protection and safety for the back of the neck. They also give you a formal and inquisitive appearance.
DisadvantagesThe major downside of caps is the low level of rain and sun protection. Furthermore, the back of the neck is always visible. They are also inappropriate for formal events.The most significant disadvantage of a hat is its lower stability due to the loose fit and the need for a chin strap. Moreover, several other hats have a very wide brim, which reduces visibility.

The Bottom Line

Since their introduction, caps and hats have been used as accessories for formal and casual attire. Both are headgears that are frequently associated with the rock style in fashion. And, although they are both headgears, there are still distinctions between them.

READ ALSO: What is an Ascot Cap?

Jonathan B. Delfs

I love to write about men's lifestyle and fashion. Unique tips and inspiration for daily outfits and other occasions are what we like to give you at MensVenture.com. Do you have any notes or feedback, please write to me directly: [email protected]

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