Few pieces of sports equipment have made an impact in the fashion world more than the snapback cap. Originally nothing more than part of a baseball uniform, it has been embraced as one of the hallmarks of cool for both men and women. An essential part of everyone’s wardrobe, it can be adopted easily to suit any casual look and top it all off with style.
Snapback Caps: The Origins of Cool
The snapback cap has been a popular item since it was introduced in the early 1950’s as part of a professional baseball player’s uniform. When baseball’s popularity increased, fans started to sport them to show their support. It wasn’t until the early 1990’s, when hip-hop artists such as Ice Cube and Dr. Dre adopted snapback caps as part of their look, that these caps became popular among the mainstream population. Hip Hop culture has a massive impact on what our culture views as cool, and when snapback caps became and essential part of the ‘urban uniform’ they became an essential part of many fashionistas’ everyday wardrobe.
Make it Your Own
It isn’t enough to grab a cap off the shelf, shove it on your head and expect the compliments to begin. Like any iconic fashion item, there are rules when it comes to choosing your cap and customizing it. Your choice of cap should reflect your own sense of style and personal interests such as the logo of your favourite team or a phrase that has personal meaning to you. Just rushing out and buying whatever Chris Brown in wearing and shoving it on your head isn’t going to ring true.
Once you have your perfect snapback cap, there are a few things you need to do before wearing it. Like perfectly white sport shoes, there is no mistaking a new cap. They are stiff, they are bright, and in all honesty, more than a little awkward looking. If you don’t want to suffer through all the ‘hey, new cap?” comments, you can easily customize your snapback to make it suit you perfectly.
Shrink to Fit
You might think that shrinking your cap in the washer is the most expedient way to get the job done, but detergents have a tendency to make the colours run and the heat of the water can over-shrink or fray your purchase. Instead, moisten a cloth with warm water and thoroughly dampen your hat. Position it nicely on your head and let it dry. As the fibres shrink, they mould themselves to your individual head shape, making it as close to a fully customized cap as possible.
If you don’t particularly fancy the idea of wearing a damp hat on your head all day long, there are ways you can accomplish ‘aging’ your snapback without the discomfort. Some swear by moistening the cap and then positioning it over something roughly the size of your head until it dries like a sports ball or melon.
Others take the time to blow the cap dry as it sits on their head to speed up the entire process. Still others bypass the entire moisture filled experience and cut out the mesh on the inside of the cap to remove the boards. This can result in a badly misshaped hat, however, and is best left to more experienced clothing surgeons.
Wear It Well
Once you have a perfectly fitted cap, you can then begin to access its accessorizing power! There are many looks that can be achieved with one item for both men and women. The key is to ensuring that your entire outfit is working toward one goal. Nothing looks as odd as when you channel a hip-hop vibe on top only to cancel it out with skater casual on the bottom. Experiment and see what works for you, but keep it subtle and congruent.
Old School Casual Cool
The classic way for men and women to wear snapbacks is front facing. Providing the additional benefit of sun protection, this is the style favoured by those looking for a traditional casual look. Bring it all together with faded jeans in the latest cut (you don’t want to date yourself with a passé shape) and casual t-shirts or button downs. Do yourself a favour and don’t ‘over brand’ yourself with a logo shirt that competes with the logo on your cap. Choose an unbranded snapback or plain shirt depending on where you want to showcase your favourite logo, but stay away from both. You don’t want people noticing your brand choice instead of you.
If you are looking to showcase your urban, hip hop style there is no better way to do it than with the careful positioning of your snapback. Those in the know prefer to wear the caps tilted to one side with the back slightly more lifted that the front. To achieve this precarious balance, many choose to attach the hat with bobby pins so that the slightly ‘off the head’ look can be maintained effortlessly throughout the day. Complement this look with oversized jeans, hoodies, jerseys and the latest in enviable kicks and you’ll look like you stepped out of someone’s entourage. The potential to overdo this look is huge, so shelve your gold chains and competing logos to avoid looking like a satire rather than a style-setter.
Perhaps the least popular way to wear a snapback cap is backwards. Somewhere along the line this way of wearing caps became synonymous with being a bit of a loser and wearing your cap in this style is sure to be met with ridicule. If you insist, be ready for comments and stares. Of course, if this is what you’re looking for this should be your first choice in cap positioning.
One of the best things about accessories is their ability to transform even the most mundane outfit. The key is to play with them to help express your individual style rather than simply slamming on whatever is considered hip and looking for compliments. Poseurs and their posturing can be sniffed out in an instant. Even if your intention is to impress, if it isn’t genuine you can be sure that people will notice. Grab that snapback, customize it and wear it with pride as long as it reflects who you are and not who you expect people to think you are.