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Cap Vs Hat

Cap Vs Hat. What Is the Difference? (With Pictures)

Caps and Hats are the two most common headgear in the world today, if not the only ones. We see them every day. Many of us might even know the differences between the two; however, it is crucial for a potential buyer to understand the cap vs hat difference because that helps him decide which headwear suits his purpose the best.

The main difference between cap and hat

The biggest cap vs hat difference is the nature of shade components they have.

A hat has a circular brim that encircles the crown, while the cap has a visor or a bill at the front and, most times, nothing to protect the neck’s back from the sun. However, this is just a generalization and is not always true because not all caps have a visor, neither all hats have a brim.

Apart from this main difference, other differences lie in crown fit, styles, purpose of wearing, and looks.

Which headwear has more variety?

Essentially, a hat has more variety and can be decorated in many different styles. Although there are many varieties of a brimless hat such as a Cocktail hat, Basket hat, and a Casque hat, even the brimmed hats have ample variety. From the expansively wide-brimmed Picture hat to the drooping brimmed Cloche hat to the hat with balls or the German Bollenhut. 

On the other hand, caps have a lower variety when it comes to those with a visor. There is a much wider variety of caps without a visor, for example, the Coonskin cap, Forage Cap, or Icelandic Tail Cap. However, the caps with visors have limited styles and designs.  

Therefore, if you are a headwear collector, there is a higher chance of you collecting more hats than caps.

What is a cap?

One of the most common examples to understand a cap is a baseball cap. Generally, the baseball cap has a six-paneled crown and a short visor at the front. However, there are different types of caps that add variety to the wearer’s style; some have a structured crown, some have an unstructured one, some have a short visor, some have a long one, some might not have a visor or a brim at all. We can even categorize caps based on their closures or patterns and materials. Cap variety is expansive.

Characteristics of Caps

  • The crown fits snugly on the wearer’s head
  • There is no brim
  • There may or may not be a visor
  • The crown may be structured or unstructured
  • Has a casual or a semi-formal look
  • Is part of several armed forces’ uniforms
  • Sportspersons prefer it

What is a Hat?

There are two key components of a hat, a crown, and a brim. Technically it is the brim that differentiates a cap from a hat. However, it is not always necessary that a hat has a crown or a brim. Some don’t have either and still referred to as a hat, an example being the Conical Asian Hat. However, such exceptions are rare, and most hats have a crown and a brim. The crown fits loosely over the head, and therefore, some hats are supported by a chinstrap.

The brim size can vary from hat to hat. There are Trilbies which have a very short brim and are also known as stingy brims, while there are wide brim hats such as Chupalla or a Cartwheel hat. Therefore, brim sizes are the topic for another time. However, a brim’s presence is a clear point of distinction between a cap and a hat.

Characteristics of Caps

  • The crown doesn’t fit snugly on the wearer’s head
  • There is generally a brim
  • There is no visor
  • The crown is mostly structured
  • It has a casual, semi-formal, and formal look
  • At times it is worn at an angle to make it look more stylish
  • It is decorated with ribbons, feathers, trims, and the likes

Cap vs Hat

Comparison PropertiesCapHat
Distinctive ComponentCaps generally have a visor; however, excepts are also there, such as a skull cap.Hats generally have a brim; however, excepts are also there, such as a cocktail hat.
MaterialGenerally made of softer material, such as cotton, canvas, woolIt can be made of harder material such as beaver felt or straw
StabilityRelatively more stable because of the snug fitRelatively less stable because of the loose fit. Most times, added stability is achieved using a chinstrap
CrownCaps can have structured or an unstructured crownHats generally have a structured crown; however, there are exceptions, such as a collapsible Opera hat.
Ideal ForCasual and Semi-Formal occasionsCasual, Semi-Formal, and Formal occasions
FoldabilityUnstructured caps are easily foldableMost hats are non-foldable.
Types & StylesThere is a lot of variety when it comes to cap styles, for example, Ascot Cap, Fiddler Cap, Baseball Cap, Skull Cap, Beret, to name a few.There is a lot of variety when it comes to hat styles, for example, Fedora, Top hat, Bowler hat, Boater Hat, Cartwheel hat, to name a few.
AdvantagesThe snug fit makes caps appropriate sportswear. Further, they need relatively lesser or no protection against wind. Also, they create fewer visibility issues because the visor is generally smaller. Finally, they give the wearer a relaxed and casual look. The wide brim gives ample rain and sun protection, including protection to the neck’s back. Further, they give the wearer a formal and enterprising look. 
DisadvantagesThe biggest disadvantage is the relatively lower rain and sun protection. Further, the neck back is always exposed. Additionally, they are not appropriate for formal occasions.The biggest disadvantage is the relatively lower stability because of the loose fit and a chin strap requirement. Further, some hats have a very wide brim that causes visibility issues.

The best cap

This is a fantastic six-paneled baseball cap from Nike. It is also a merchandise and collector’s item for tennis and Rafael Nadal fans. The curved visor and the attractive black color make it very stylish for the wearer. It is a unisex fashion accessory and can be worn by both men and women. The cap has a hook and loop closure.

This is an amazing cap with earflaps that provides you excellent winter protection. It is made from authentic Irish wool and is, therefore, perfect for cold weather. The six-paneled design with a button on the top gives a classic look to the wearer. The cap has a pull-on closure that gives a stable and snug fit.

The best hat

This is a classic Panama Hat with an indented crown and a grosgrain ribbon decoration around it. It is lightweight and is available in several color variants. The breathable material allows you to wear it for a long and the wide brim provides excellent sun protection. It is a stylish piece for a summer fashion accessory.

This is a classic Trilby hat with a stingy brim folded upward at the back and an indented and pinched crown. The ribbon loop on the crown makes it more stylish and enhances the wearer’s look. Further, as Trilby is a more relaxed-looking hat, it gives the wearer a laid-back look.

Final thoughts

Although it is clear that caps have a visor while hats have brims, this is not always true. Both caps and hats can be visor-less or brimless, respectively. However, if you have to make an easy distinction, this could be a great starting point. Most times, it is the only thing you might have to look for while making the distinction. The important aspect is which headwear is more suitable. This decision can be made by weighing several parameters such as the desired fit, style, occasion, sun or rain protection, and so on. If you are going for a snug fit, casual look, and only a little sun protection, then you should pick a cap. However, if you are going for a formal look or greater sun protection and can do without the snug fit, you should choose a hat.

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