LOOKCITY: On The Classic Flat Cap That Grew In Popularity By An Act Of Parliament

by Robyn Yager | The Flat Cap, or Bunnet (Scotland), is a round cap with a stiff brim. It is very similar to the Newsboy Cap, which is essentially the same hat but sewn from the top down instead of from the back. Its history can be traced back to England and Italy in the 14th Century. It was referred to as a “bonnet” until the 1700’s, when it became a “cap”. When Irish and English immigrants came to North America thereafter, they brought the style with them. Materials used include wool, cotton, and most commonly tweed.

Wearing a Flat Cap began with an Act of Parliament in 1571 in order to encourage domestic wool consumption and general trade. On Sundays and holidays, every male over the age of six, except for nobility and those of degree, were to wear a wool cap or be fined. Although the Bill was abandoned in 1597, wearing the hat had already become a normal part of the everyday. The rest – as they say – is history. It was once understood that the Flat Cap was a symbol of the working class, but it was often worn out of sheer practicality by everyone, so much so that it is seen today as a classless accoutrement.

Peeps who have rocked the Flat Cap include (classic) Paul Newman, Raquel Welch, Bruce Springsteen, Jean-Paul Belmondo, Jerry Lewis, Buster Keaton, (contemporary) Brad Pitt, Carrie Bradshaw, Al Pacino, Melanie Laurent, (local) Rommy Ghaly, Shaun Layton, Cord Jarvie, and many more.

Where to Find in Vancouver

Edie Hats (4-1666 Johnston Street, Granville Island)
The Bay (674 Granville Street)
Deluxe Junk – for those okay with secondhand head wear (310 West Cordova Street)
Front and Company (3772 Main Street)



Robyn Yager is the style reporter for Scout Magazine. She runs The Rain Season blog and is enthused by anything out of the ordinary. She loves art, striped shirts, macchiatos, classic literature and picking through thrift stores for unique treasures. Her mission is to inspire Vancouverites in their sartorial choices and to see beauty and style everywhere.

There is 1 comment

  1. Invest in a Borsalino – sure, they cost a king’s ransom but they are a work of art on your head.

    Visit the folks at Edie Hats on Granville Island.