Complete a laidback look, or simply protect against the beating sun with one of these charismatic caps
Even if you don’t regularly don any headwear, it’s always useful to have a quality cap lying around. A fashion piece for the ages, they can top off just about any outfit: use one to tone down a smartish look, complete a casual get-up or anything in-between. You’ll find both celebrities strutting in the latest high-fashion hats and regular dads rocking a sporty cap on holiday – in other words, caps are for everyone.
Caps aren’t just a fashion accessory, either: they help protect your skin, which in turn keeps your face looking visibly young for longer. The sun’s harsh UV rays are beating down on your skin even on the cloudiest of days, so if you’re outside for long periods of time or enjoying some outdoor exercise it’s better to have a cap on your person.
In that sense, caps aren’t just summertime staples. They can be worn all year round and mixed and matched as the seasons change and used for any purpose you like. In fact, caps can be especially useful if you’re having a bad hair day – or feeling a little hungover – not that anyone else has to know that’s the case.
Whatever motivation you have for getting a new cap, we’ve deep-dived into all the options available to you. There are a range of different styles, so you might want to read through our buying guide to get to grips with the cap scene and what options might best suit your appearance, lifestyle and budget. And you’ll want to choose wisely: a cap can make or break an outfit. Equally, feel free to scroll down to our favourite picks available on the market right now – you might just find your latest bit of headwear.
How to choose the best cap for you
Cap vs hat
Let’s address the elephant in the room. Both hats and caps are headwear or head accessories, but there are some subtle differences that set them apart. In fact, some people might consider caps to be a subset of hats. However, the main distinction to make is that a hat is a head accessory that has a brim all the way around, like a cowboy hat, whereas a cap brim only covers the front portion of the head. This smaller brim is sometimes called a peak or a visor.
Why are you purchasing a cap?
There are a number of factors to consider when purchasing a cap, but besides the price point, the motivation behind your purchase is perhaps the most important. Buying a cap for everyday outdoor work under direct sunlight or simply as a fashion accessory to wear every other month are two completely different objectives.
And that will likely interfere with the price point you are willing to pay, too. Should you be sweating vigorously during a workout or likely to get your cap dirty in some other way, you may want to commit to purchasing a few cheaper caps than one expensive designer model.
Perhaps you just want one hat that’ll do a job for any occasion, in which case certain styles of caps in certain colours may be more appropriate. It all comes back to how you plan to use your cap so it is worth asking yourself why you want to purchase one.
Types of caps
That brings us to the styles of cap you’ll want to consider. All in all, caps are typically soft, flat hats with a brim at the front.
Still, there are many different options available to you under this definition, but the most common, overarching term used for all of them is baseball cap. Usually made from softer materials like cotton, wool or polyester, these caps are the standard shape you’d imagine when picturing a cap: a rounded crown and a stiff, curved brim/bill at the front.
Under the label of baseball cap, there are a plethora of other options. While a baseball cap is made up of any number of bits of fabric sewn together, a five-panel cap – as you can guess – is made of five and has a slightly lower profile in general, and often a shorter brim. Likewise, there are six and seven-panelled caps to consider as well as others like the trucker hat (which has a plastic mesh netting on the back of the cap structure) or the visor (which resembles a baseball cap with the crown cut off). There are also Legionnaire hats– in other words, a baseball cap with an extension of material to protect the wearer’s neck – named after the French Foreign Legion who wore the hat frequently.
All of these might be labelled slightly differently too, depending on the adjustable closure at the back of the cap. For instance, a fitted cap will not have any closure while a snapback will have a plastic strap with various ‘snaps’ to select your desired size. You’ll also come across velcro closures, metal buckles and plastic pull-tabs too.
Aside from the baseball cap genre, there are also more sophisticated caps too. The flat cap is the one you are probably familiar with, but there are also the slightly baggier baker boy cap (also known as the Newsboy cap) and the harder and rounder Ascot Cap (also known as the Cuffley cap) amongst others.
What about my face shape?
There aren’t any rules about what hats you can and can’t wear, so even if you are prepared to commit crimes against fashion, that’s your prerogative. However, it can be a good move to style yourself according to your bodily proportions. For caps, that means choosing a hat that is best suited to your face since certain face shapes tend to look more flattering in certain types of cap according to stylists.
Oval face shape: If you’ve got a face that is longer than it is wide around the cheekbones, with a forehead that has a width greater than your cheekbones, it’s likely that you can pull off any cap around. Lucky you!
Long face shape: For those with a face longer than it is wide in general, wider brim hats or those with a deeper crown are your best bet to help even out your look.
Square face shape: With your strong, angular features that are in equal proportion across jawline, cheekbones and forehead, you might want to soften your look with a curved brim cap with a low crown – think sporty or five-panel.
Round face shape: A more common shape, with rounded cheeks and a generally equal length and width face profile, a round face looks great with higher crowns and harder edges for contrast. A trucker or sporty baseball cap might be the one.
At the end of the day though, these ‘rules’ are there to be broken. It’s all about how you feel wearing the cap in question, so if you’re comfortable and confident that’s the key to knowing whether a cap is a good purchase.
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Best caps to buy for men in 2023
1. New Era 9Forty Yankees cap: Best baseball cap
Price: From £21 | Buy now from Amazon
You may support a different baseball team, or not care for the sport at all, but with its iconic logo the New York Yankees has cornered the market for baseball caps and you’ve undoubtedly come across it before.
Made from 100% cotton, these curved peak caps are a splendid choice for all-day wear and can be fitted however you prefer via the adjustable buckle at the rear. There is a fitted version should that be your preference, but we think the buckle works even better. And as mentioned, these caps pair well with any everyday outfit too, in either all-white, red, black or grey colourways with its embroidered badge seen front and centre.
Key details – Type: Baseball cap (hard curved peak); Size: One size (21.6in – 24.2in); Closure: Buckle
2. von Dutch Sum Hun: Best trucker hat
Price: £29 | Buy now from Amazon
Von Dutch has become a staple of hat fashion culture over recent years and this trucker is another of its big hitter. This orange and blue colourway provides a touch of flair to pair to elevate most outfits.
Fit wise, the deep trucker style and snapback closure on the back mean it should adapt to any head size. The trucker opening of the back allows some air to flow across your head, ideal for hotter days, while the sweatband around the front reduces the pressure of the hat on your forehead.
Key details – Type: Trucker cap (hard curved peak); Size: One size (maximum 23.62in); Closure: Snapback
3. Nike Dri-FIT AeroBill Featherlight: Best cap for running
Price: £18 | Buy now from Nike
Investing in a cap built for exercise – one that won’t pick up sweat stains – is a good decision if you’re likely to go for runs in the sunshine, or even if you want to quickly hide away your untamed locks for an impromptu workout. This option by Nike is ideal for exercise since the patented AeroBill fabric is sweat-wicking; in other words, it will move moisture quickly to its outer surface. Combine that with numerous holes scattered through the cap to allow for even quicker cooling, and you shouldn’t get as sweaty as with other caps out there.
Even if it gets a little smelly over time, you can throw it in the washing machine – it has retained its shape in our experience since the brim is flexible. And because of this, it’s lightweight too, meaning you can focus on your exercise without distractions and even take it off mid-run and not feel weighed down.
Key details – Type: Baseball cap (lightweight curved peak); Size: One size (21 1/8in – 23 7/8in); Closure: Velcro
4. Dickies Albertville cap: Best five-panel cap
Price: £25 | Buy now from Dickies
Beginning as the look for skateboarders in the 1980s, before becoming more widely adorned by city-based youngsters, the five-panel cap is a fashion item more than anything. Skateboarding brands like Supreme brought skaters back to the five panel in more recent times and it remains a popular choice for its low profile crown and often short, flat bill.
In that sense, it’s not really the go-to shape for sun protection but rather aesthetics and we think this cap by Dickies is trendy as any. Simple but effective, this one comes in Khaki or Black and features the iconic Dickies logo front and centre on a woven patch. With its adjustable back tab, you can tighten and loosen even if you’re mid-skateboard and ride on looking the part.
Key details – Type: Five-panel cap; Size: One size (21.25in – 25.75in); Closure: Adjustable pull-tab
5. Stetson Hatteras Cap: Best flat cap or newsboy cap
Price: £79 | Buy now from Stuarts London
The success of BBC drama Peaky Blinders has brought flat caps a modern-day renaissance. And despite the fact those 20th century brummies are actually wearing a slightly different headpiece, the newsboy cap (also called baker boy), the flat cap is the go-to label for all the head toppers in that genre.
We think the more billowy shape of the newsboy cap, worn by celebrities like David Beckham in recent years, deserves its time in the sun though. To go with any suave outfit, this British Shetland woollen cap by Stetson is our pick for firstly its top-dollar comfort, via its cotton lining, and overall manufacturing that really oozes with quality. Second, fashion wise, the black/grey wool base is a smart choice with the green and blue highlights of the wool giving a subtle pop in the right light. The tan, black or brown leather versions are also stunning choices, but for the double-benefit of warmth on a cold, winter’s morning via a true statement piece, we’d go with this one.
Key details – Type: Newsboy cap; Size: S (21 1/8in) – XXL (25 1/2in); Closure: None (fixed size)
6. Outdoor Research Sun Runner: Best cap for sun protection
Price: From £29 | Buy now from Amazon
Whether you’re going for a lengthy trek or simply want to protect your skin, the Outdoor Research Sun Runner cap is the perfect pick for preventing sun damage above the shoulders.
The button-fastening neck protection (also known as a sun cape), complete with adjustable chin strap, will help you block out the sun wherever you are. And it really works too: its 50+ ultraviolet protection factor means it’ll stop 49/50 UV rays when worn.
That button fastening means you can quickly remove the cape to reveal a regular hat should it get a little hot under the collar. But since it’s made of 100% nylon – a sweat-wicking, breathable, and super stretchy material – it shouldn’t be uncomfortable or overly sweaty.
Add in cooling mesh ventilation on the side of the cap and a headband lining, you won’t have to worry about droplets getting in your eyes either. Plus, it even looks the part: the colour selection is excellent, with the ‘lead’ option being a particular favourite. This is the go-to option for anyone out and about for long periods.
Key details – Type: Legionnaires cap (with baseball style brim); Size: S (21 1/5in) – XL (24in); Closure: None (fixed size)
7. Gucci GG Canvas cap: Best high-end cap
Price: £310 | Buy now from Farfetch
Look, this one is pricey. But if you’re at all interested in designer caps, then Gucci is the go-to option brand. That’s because of the iconic diamante patterning and ‘GG’ logo that have dominated the fashion world of caps, spawning knockoff after knockoff. Having said that, in our estimation the classic cap is a little bit of an obvious choice nowadays, so why not give this black-out alternative a go instead?
Lined with cotton on the inside, this baseball shaped six-panel cap fits perfectly. With the traditional red and green Gucci details built into the original GG canvas developed in the 1950s, it screams Gucci in a more subtle manner due to the black overlay. Complete with leather lining on the curved cap brim, this is a plush piece to top off your wardrobe.
Key details – Type: Baseball cap; Size: XSS (21 1/3in) – XL (26in); Closure: Buckle with velcro
8. Carhartt Men’s Rugged Professional Series Cap: Best cap for big heads
Price: From £15 | Buy now from AmazonDifferent caps tend to suit different faces, but something more fundamental than that is getting the correct size. Those with larger heads often find it more difficult to find a cap that both suits their features, and literally fits them – especially when shopping online. Step in: the Carhartt Rugged Professional Series.
Notice the crown appears a little taller than other options on this page. That gives you extra real estate to fit your head inside comfortably, while still being able to adjust it via the snapback closure at the rear, so you can get a snug fit.
The trucker style will help keep it flexible for long-term use, no matter how large your noggin, and you’ll look the part since the ‘professional’ colour options and general design make it perfect for any smart-casual gathering or off-duty leisure time. At less than £15, it’s pretty affordable, too.
Key details – Type: Trucker cap; Size: One Size (21in – 24in); Closure: None (fixed size)