Hat vs Cap - What is The Difference?

You may have heard people refer to a hat as a “cap," but are the terms interchangeable? We are here to clear up this mystery of headwear for you, so that you can carry on the information to school everyone else you know.

First, lets start with the definition of each term. A hat is described as “headwear characterized by different brim sizes and shaped crowns” while a cap is said to be “headwear characterized by an unshaped crown and a visor." Let’s just say that after reading these two definitions, our understanding of the differences wasn’t much clearer than when we began, so let's break this information down a bit for an easier picture.

A hat is usually circular in shape with a brim that goes all the way around it. With this image in mind, I picture a man with cowboy boots, old dusty jeans, and a lasso, and he is wearing a cowboy hat. Though my description is quite particular, it is, in fact, correct. A cowboy hat is just that, a “hat”. The features of the full brim and shaped crown authenticate it.  Fedora is another example of a brimmed "hat."  See below pic for example of a "hat."

Now to distinguish the cap from the hat, we take a look at its design. The definition tells us of an unshaped crown and a visor. To give you a better idea of what exactly an unshaped crown is, imagine the shape of an Ivy cap, a cabbie’s cap, a beret, a beanie, or one that we are all familiar with, the baseball cap. Modern style has updated this defintion by adding structure to the cap, which is something you see in snapbacks and structured baseball caps.  By comparing these styles, we see that some have visors, and some do not, but they all have unshaped crowns and more specifically, no brims.  See below example of a baseball "cap."

Now I feel like we may have a more clear dividing line of the true difference between a hat and a cap. Just to keep things confusing, a cap is really just a sub category of hats. So if ever in doubt, labeling your headwear as a “hat” is the safest bet.


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