You probably never thought you’d see the day where you’re taking fashion pointers from your old man. You know, the same guy that rocks New Balances with baggy Levi’s well beyond their donate-to-charity use by date.
He wears 3XL checked short-sleeve shirts and hasn’t bought a new suit since he got his first grad job in 1982. The baseball cap is a quintessential part of the middle-aged dude wardrobe, whether it’s to give his greying comb over a break on weekends, or cover up that expanding forehead that gives him anxiety whenever he peeks in the mirror.
And now, everyone wants one – whether you’re a big shot money-on-my-mind rapper or a suburban ear nose and throat specialist rapidly tumbling towards the big 5-0.
That’s right, dads are finally getting the last laugh. Their hats are in every shop. Even the big brands are having a go. They’re almost necessary for recovery days when a brush and style is out of the question.
Celebrities chuck them on when they’ve missed an appointment with their stylist, or when they’re going anti-paparazzi undercover. Skaters wear them to conceal filthy ponytails. Like I said, they’re everywhere.
The dad hat is set to dethrone snapbacks at go-to headgear for casual streetstyle. This might leave you asking why old men are dictating contemporary trends, especially among people half their age, but rest assured you’ll have your answer by the end of this perusal.
We’ve combed the celebrity image files, and even spoke to an online streetwear style consultant (thanks, Maddison from Culture Kings) to investigate the method of pulling off dad hats the right way.
Maintaining a good mop of hair is an ongoing commitment to social conventions and respecting your body. But you’re only human, and humans get tired.
Sometimes knocking out a perfect slick back is too much freaking work. Your quiff needs a break after Friday and before Monday. Although this probably applies to most hats, dad hats are easy and low-fuss, for when doing your hair for a seedy trip to the shops is an ordeal and a half.
Sometimes, there’s nothing simpler than slapping on a cheap baseball cap instead of spending a good chunk of your morning with a tub of clay and a blow-dryer, even if you risk being mistaken for the old man.
Your Akubra party hat was $150 bucks and you’re still not sure if you needed it (you don’t). Snapbacks, especially the trendy ones, can run you more clams than a steak dinner at your favourite restaurant. Dad hats, not so much.
I’ve done my research and crunched the numbers. A baseball cap, even a trendy logoed one from an obscure skating brand you’re not cool enough to hear about, is rarely more than forty bucks.
It costs a bit more than a tub of pomade, and can last you ten times as long. Dad hats are a low-cost investment for skin-protecting headgear that leaves you some coinage left over for the stuff that really matters, like sunblock and appointments to the dermatologist.
While I’d advise against combining your Brioni two-piece with a Goat Crew cap, the dad hat is pretty adaptable. It’s been seen in various iterations of streetwear and doesn’t warrant restriction to a particular mode of dress.
Whether you’re running errands on a day off or hitting the tiles with your mates, it’s unlikely that a dad hat will look out of place (unless they all happen to match). No one really ‘owns’ the baseball cap, so you’re free to incorporate it as you please.
‘Dadwear’ items are usually a sign of ubiquity: bland items you see everywhere and attach little or no significance to them as a result. Dad hats are usually no exception – until now. Streetstyle aficionados like the contemporary iteration of dad hats because they reverse the complete absence of conspicuous branding.
New-age dad hats cheekily nod to pop culture, with brands customising hats to reflect the celebrity or political discourse of the time. They offer references to of-the-day funny stuff and inside jokes – although none of the streetstyle freaks I spoke to thought I was cool enough to find out what any of the memes meant (I’m still working it out).
Of course, wearing a trendy dad hat post-meme and post-brand fame opens you up to a broadside of being behind the times, which is probably a fate worse than death in these circles. Tread carefully.
Cool & Comfortable(ish)
Dads like being comfortable – there’s a reason why older dudes always purchases two sizes too big and won’t get the trouser leg taken in at a tailor, even if scolded at gunpoint.
Dad hats carry this trend onwards. For many, headgear with rigid internals don’t do them justice. Snapbacks don’t really stretch and the (dying) fedora trend saw a conspicuous absence of men with irregularly shaped heads. Dad hats have stretch materials, usually in cotton, with elastic internals that mould to the shape of the wearer’s head.
If your noggin is misshapen, due to too many rough games of rugby or the touch of genetics, dad hats are your salvation, as unlike a snapback or wide-brimmed hat, the insides will give a little bit to accommodate your dome.