The Flat Cap: A Brief History

When you think of Boston, a few things come to mind: the Red Sox, chowder, and the hard-working guys (and gals) in flat caps. Better known as the scally cap around here, the flat cap is an essential part of Boston culture. Though its history begins in England, Bostonians have cemented the cap as a symbol for blue-collar, scrappy, unpretentious individuals everywhere. Once primarily worn by the working class, the scally cap can now be seen from coast-to-coast– but let's not forget its rich history!

At Boston Scally Co., the flat cap is our pride and joy. We started this company to provide Bostonians and those everywhere with a well-made, integral part of our culture: the scally cap. Because it's such a defining aspect of Boston Culture, and our company, we invite our fellow flat cap enthusiasts to take a moment to learn more.

The Flat Cap: British Origins

Not much has changed since the flat cap first came to scene in the late 1500s, except maybe the fact that we men are no longer forced to wear it! The scally cap used to be a legal obligation. Back in 1571, British parliament passed legislation stating all males were to wear a woollen cap on Sundays and holidays, or pay a hefty fine. This push for wearing a woollen cap was a means to protect and promote the wool trade, but the law wouldn't last long. By 1597, the law was repealed, but that didn't put an end to the woollen flat cap, which turned out to be a hit! Come the turn of the 20th century, the flat cap was typically associated with the working class: factory workers, laborers, and tradesmen.

Perhaps aided by our long, cold winters, the flat cap took off in the Northeast during the 20th century, becoming a standard in boys' wear and among the working class. Eventually, the versatile cap made its way even further west and up the social classes, too! Due to its wide variety of wearers, from cabbies to upper-class Englishmen, the scally cap eventually had many names:

  • Cabbie
  • Ivy
  • Duffer
  • Duck Bill
  • Paddy
  • Wigens

The Scally Cap and Boston

While the flat cap (or the Ivy, or the Paddy) made its way into the closets of the upper class, nobles, and Ivy League school goers throughout its history, hard-working Bostonians continued to wear the scally cap as always. In fact, "scally" was coined from the UK subculture of working-class boys. In short, the scally cap is and has always been proudly worn by hard-working Americans, and it's a defining aspect of our Boston blue-collar culture. We've taken the scally cap as our own, and we're proud to be part of a long history that started with the Irish and Englishmen of the 1500s to the hard working class of the 21st century.

Sport Your Own Flat Cap Today

It doesn't matter where you're from, the scally cap looks good and has history. While we love the flat cap for its working-class ethos, it fits a variety of styles both in clothing and in life. Whether you're representing the blue-collar community or want a hat that's survived the test of time, check out our awesome selection of scally caps here.

If you have any questions, speak up and contact us!