I sell hats. Over the years, I have gotten to know the styles, the names and the terminology. It is my profession so it seems second nature to know the names and styles; but after speaking with a friend the other evening who did not know the name of any hat styles except top hats, beanies and baseball caps, I realized that there are probably a lot people who want a specific hat but don’t know the name of the style they are after.
I have already discussed the difference between trilby hats and fedoras in an earlier blog: Language Barriers: Trilby vs. Fedora, but I thought it made sense to clarify the difference between flat caps and newsboy caps as well.
The flat cap is a rounded cap made of many materials, such as cotton, wool or leather which has a stiff brim or peak at the front, it provides sun protection and helps the hat keep its shape. They come in a variety of patterns and colors, but traditionally it would have been a solid color or a classic pattern like herringbone or tweed. The cap is usually sewn together at the back from a few strips of the same material; it is sewn this way to give the top of the hat one uniform piece of material so the pattern appears even. It is usually finished with a satin or silk lining for comfort and warmth. The cap can either have a snap at the front of the cap to keep the material from the crown attached to the peak or it can simply be sewn down with a few stitches to keep it in place.
The newsboy cap is made from the same materials and fabrics and has a very similar shape to the flat cap, but it is sewn together not from the back but from the top of the hat, (the sewn parts can look like the slices of a pie or pizza). It may also be referred to as a baker boy hat, an eight panel or a gatsby cap. It is almost always finished with a button on the top where all the materials come together. Traditionally, the newsboy will have eight panels sewn together, the reason why it is also named the eight panel hat. There is a very oversized version of the newsboy cap called the big apple; it is made with the same techniques, just with more material.
I have included two photos made of the same material to show the difference between the two styles. The flat cap is a narrower style where the newsboy is rounder, wider and fuller. For someone looking to buy one of these caps, there is no rhyme or reason to suggest one or the other, it comes down to taste. It is something that you must try on and see which you prefer. They are very versatile and can be worn with either a suit or with a t-shirt and jeans.