There are certain days when it’s so ungodly cold that we are willing to totally ruin our gorgeously-coiffed manes for the sake of warmth. Often these days, that hat is a watch cap, but there are plenty of other hats in the sea. We profiled the legendary watch cap a while back, so if you want to do some catch-up, you can take a gander here. Otherwise, join us for the hats that’ve warmed heads for generations.
1. Watch Cap/Beanie
Hats like the watch cap have existed for about as long as people have been knitting. This classic, easy-to-wear piece is probably what you think of when the weather gets bleak—and for good reason. People have relied on watch caps to stay warm in all manner of hostile environments for ages. WWII cemented the watch cap’s place in the popular imagination as GIs and sailors wore these slouchy caps in a crooked, debonair way that elevated them from standard-issue uniform to something genuinely cool.
Who better to do an homage to the watch cap than the Buzz Ricksons team? Their stitch-for-stitch reproductions are second to none and if you really want that authentic WWII feel, this is your best bet.
Available for $100 at Self Edge.
2. Jeep Cap
While watch caps were more in the Navy’s domain, the Jeep Cap was issued to members of the U.S. Army starting in 1942. Essentially a watch cap with an added brim, these hats were meant to be worn under helmets for padding and warmth. These caps came cuffed and could be turned down to cover the ears if things got really cold. Issued in the olives and greens that matched infantry fatigues, troops heartily embraced the style as a comfier, laidback alternative to their heavy helmets.
The American military still makes these hats, although now they’re made in a cheap acrylic instead of wool.
The militaria-loving geeks at At The Front made a reproduction Jeep Cap that hits all the vintage bases. Sewn with era-specific machinery, the only real difference between these caps and their predecessors is that they come in one size. Because yarn today has better memory than yarn did during WWII, that shouldn’t be an issue; they’ll stretch out and conform to your noggin.
Available for $34.99 at ATF.
These big furry hats are inextricably associated with the former Soviet Union. Where else is cold enough to require it? But the hat has seen far more exciting adventures than sitting atop Gerald Ford’s head. The modern Ushanka dates back to the Russian Revolution, where it was a standard uniform piece for the White Russians, its luxurious fur didn’t end up playing well when the Communists took power and was worn only by elites after that. Many versions of this hat exist in the Slavic Baltic countries, but this is one of the more iconic. When the hat appears fuzzy on all sides, it’s because the ear flaps are done up and tied up top.
Depending on the quality of the hat, the fur can be from a variety of animals, simply wool pile, or a synthetic which mimics the consistency of animal fur.
Called the “Nordic Heater,” Northern European brand, Fjallraven, does an affordable faux fur rendition of this iconic hat. Real fur can run you up to $700, but this budget version retails for a mere tenth of that price. Not exactly casual, but gives you that Han Solo on Hoth look I know you nerds would love.
Available for $79.95 at Zappos.
4. Stormy Kromer Cap
Stormy Kromer has been making caps in the USA since 1903 when a semi-professional baseball player-cum-railroad engineer, (the titular “Stormy”) asked his wife Ida to sew something onto his hat to keep them from flying off when he was at work on the train. The result was a baseball cap with earflaps that could be tied together under the chin, not unlike the Ushanka.
However; the design changed until it came to resemble the modern version seen above. The ear flaps changed, now the hats had a roll-down kind of earflap that you didn’t even need to untie before using. Modern versions have a wool blend exterior to shelter the wearer from the elements and a cotton flannel coating, which insulates the wearer without being too itchy. Very lumberjack-y, these hats are still popular with the outdoorsy and hunters, especially in the Midwest.
The aforementioned Stormy Kromer at its most classic. Available in all kinds of colorways, there’s no better way to run around dressed as Elmer Fudd.
Available for $44.99 at Stormy Kromer.
This classic hunter’s cap, the Deerstalker, is now so thoroughly associated with Sherlock Holmes that it’s impossible to separate the fictional man from the real hat. Also known as a “fore and aft” cap, for its brims in the front and back, you can identify the hat by those classic details, as well as the ear flaps, which are most often tied up top. This hat is closely associated with that most English of fabrics, tweed, but can be made in any number of materials. Nowadays, the checked tweeds and houndstooths have largely been forsaken in exchange for modern safety-centric, high-vis fabrics.
Heritage Polish hatmaker, Sterkowski, gives the English a run for their money with this loving reproduction. Called The Holmes, for obvious reasons, this hat is made from good, old-fashioned Harris Tweed with a quilted cotton liner and sweatband. Who knows, maybe you can be the one who brings this eccentric detective’s hat back into fashion.
Available for $60 at Sterkowski.
6. Flat Cap
This cap goes by many names: the flat cap, the newsboy cap, etc., but regardless of nomenclature, people have been wearing these for quite some time. Flat caps trace their history back to the 1500s in England, although they didn’t become fashionable per se until the 1920s. It was a staple of a working man’s wardrobe for much of the twentieth century and can come in handy in wintry weather, considering it’s made of wool.
Though it doesn’t have ear flaps it can still be helpful in inclement weather, although it’s a hard task to wear one of these without looking costume-y… at least if you wear an Ushanka, no one will think you’re cosplaying Peaky Blinders.
Hatmakers the world over must have rejoiced when Peaky Blinders first hit Netflix. Cillian Murphy managed to make this undeniably stodgy hat seem cool and dangerous – enough so that Sterkowski has a whole “Peaky Blinders” section on their website. If your flat cap journey started with that show, this is the obvious hat for you – just don’t sew razor blades into the brim, please.
Available from $35 at Sterkowski.