What Are Dad Hats, And Why Are They So Popular?

October 16, 2023

You may have heard about dad jokes and dad bods, but what about dad hats? As they’ve gained popularity, it seems that father knows best when it comes to cool caps.

A brief history of baseball caps

Before we dig into the details of this dad hat trend, let’s take a minute to find out when and why baseball caps came onto the scene. Then we can better trace the trajectory of dad hats and baseball caps.

In the mid-1800s, at the dawn of this country’s favorite pastime, the first players wore straw hats to keep the sun out of their eyes. However, that baseball hat didn’t stand the test of time.

After a few years, they switched to caps that consisted of the crown and bill combo still seen today.

These caps were made from soft, fine, merino wool. The more comfortable design featured a crown made of six panels and a narrow brim (also referred to as bill or visor). This six-panel baseball cap differed from other headgear of the time such as the popular newsboy’s cap.

Over the next several decades, teams tinkered with the design of these baseball hats. They used sturdier materials and altered the shape and height of the crown.

At the turn of the century, the Detroit Tigers placed a team signifier on their caps, taking team spirit to the next level. What started with one team adding a simple logo on the structured crown soon became a branding tool that would eventually help make baseball caps coveted accessories across the globe.

When caps became commonplace

While little kids in little league wore the baseball caps of their favorite teams, it wasn’t until the 1970s that more people started sporting this style regularly in their day-to-day lives.

It’s possible that the public was influenced by seeing their favorite ball players on television. What was once just on the field was now in their living rooms with much more frequency.

Certain TV stars could have also played a role in spreading the popularity of this fashion accessory. Some say Tom Selleck’s donning of a Detroit Tigers cap in “Magnum, P.I.” may have inspired others to incorporate this style into their everyday lives and make it more mainstream.

When MTV came onto the scene in the 1980s, rap and hip-hop artists started sporting the cap, lending it street cred and making it cool for the next generation.

baseball and other hats were worn by rap artists and musiciansDifferent celebrities made certain styles of the cap even more popular.

Ashton Kutcher, who rose to stardom with “That ’70s Show” and MTV’s “Punk’d,” helped take the trucker hat from functional accessory to designer status symbol by wearing one on these shows and almost everywhere he went.

Yes, lucky for us, the baseball hat made its way from the field into everyday fashion.

The dad hat trend

So what about dad hats? This kind of cap stands at the intersection of cool and casual, along with casual bucket hats. It’s a trend that’s not actually about being trendy.

A lot of people don’t want to think too hard about what to wear or what not to wear before they walk out the door. That’s where dad hats come in. With dad hats, the emphasis is on effortlessness.

It makes it easy for a trend to take off when it’s, well, easy.

Functional and flattering, this take on the traditional baseball cap is usually softer and less structured. This cap has a relaxed fit, curved bill, and vintage look that gives it a timeless appeal.

They tend to have a worn-in feel and use a buckle closure or simple strap at the back, as opposed to the plastic through-hole snap of snapback caps.

Also known as dad caps, the look tends to be minimalistic. While they might sport a logo or simple design, they generally don’t chase the latest fads…just like dads, no cap (pun intended…get it? You might not, if you’re a dad).

Moving on…

Who wears these dad caps?

You could be wearing one right now and just haven’t heard it referred to as such. That may mean you’re someone who doesn’t worry too much about labels. You’re more concerned with comfort and having a relaxed style.

You are not alone. As it turns out, most of us like to be comfortable a lot of the time. A clean cap like this can work with casual outfits with leggings or jeans, as well as more fashionable ensembles.

It’s not just middle-aged men donning these on their domes. Apparently, a soft cotton cap is appealing to all kinds of folks. And why wouldn’t it be?

Whether you’re kicking it in the geriatric wing of your assisted living center or a wily whippersnapper of the younger generation, a comfy cap is a universal accessory.

Dad caps are for everyone, including actual baseball players and those who have never been to a ball game.

Can’t throw a ball to save your life? It’s okay, these caps don’t discriminate. They accept you as you are, like an old friend who knows all your flaws. In fact, they even help hide some of them, like when you’re having a not-so-great hair day.

If you want to wear one, wear one! This kind of cap is a classic.

They’re for the young, the young at heart, and even the old curmudgeon. They’re for moms, dads, kids, teens, young adults…here, there, and everywhere.

And Double Portion Supply has dad hats that are perfect for anyone and any occasion.

Which brings us to our next question.

Where do people wear them?

There aren’t a lot of rules these days when it comes to caps. The bottom line is that you do you wherever you do you.

And if you’re looking for dad hats, you can never go wrong with a custom creation.

Anywhere a head covering is kosher, you can probably get away with wearing one.

Baseball caps have even been spotted at Hollywood award shows and galas. Everyone from Ron Howard to Kanye West wears them regularly.

double portion supply the grey iwa hipster dad hat
Double Portion Supply’s Grey Iwa Hipster Dad Hat

It’s a versatile look you can take to an actual ballgame or a black tie affair. The part of the cap that hugs your head is called a crown, after all. How much more regal can you get?

You can throw one on before embarking on outdoor activities like fishing or hiking. If you’re having a bad hair day (or a no hair day, for that matter), you can protect your scalp and shield your eyes from the sun.

When you drop the kids off at school, walk your dog around the neighborhood, or take a stroll down the beach at sunset, you can put a lid on that noggin and not worry about it.

To sum it all up, they can really be worn wherever you want. Can you feel the freedom? Feels pretty comfy, doesn’t it?

How do dad hats differ from other hats?

To understand what differentiates dad caps from the rest of the bunch, it’s helpful to break it down by the various parts typical of a baseball cap.

The crown and profile

As mentioned above, the part of the hat that hugs the head is called the crown.

Sometimes the back of the crown will be made of a mesh fabric. Other times, the cap will be one kind of fabric throughout. Some caps are still made of wool, while most consist of cotton or cotton-synthetic blends.

A dad cap will have a less structured crown and be slightly oversized as compared to a super snug fit.

The profile refers to the slope and height of the hat’s crown. High profile means the crown is taller and more perpendicular to the visor, while low profile caps are shorter and have slopes that are more angled.

Dad caps have a low profile, whereas a classic cap will have a medium or high profile (as will a trucker hat).

The panels

Panels are the triangular pieces of fabric stitched together to create the half-globe shape that forms the crown. Most baseball caps have five or six panels. A dad hat has six.

The visor

As the name would suggest, the visor (or bill or brim) is the part that extends outward from the crown and protects the eyes and face from the sun.

The visors contain material that makes them sturdy and stiff, whether it be buckram or a plastic insert. The brim of a snapback hat and some classic caps tend to be flat, but a dad hat has a curved brim. This contributes to the less structured, more laid-back look.

woman touching visor of hat sitting in lounge chairThe top button

The top button is a metal grommet covered by fabric on top of the center of the hat. It helps to hold all the panels together. These are pretty standard for every baseball hat.

The closure

Aside from fitted or flexfit options, every hat will have a type of closure or strap in the back that allows for a perfect fit and maximum comfort. The different closure types include snapback, adjustable strap, and velcro.

Dad caps almost always have buckle closures or clasp closures with an adjustable strap. A snapback hat will have a plastic snap. Since trucker caps are snapbacks, they also have this feature.

The sweatband

The sweatband is the band of fabric that lines the inside front of the cap. This material could be cotton, or even satin, though leather is occasionally still used in some designs.

The typical cap has a front lining, whereas the dad hat does not. The lack of a front lining allows it to be more flexible and comfortable.

Put a lid on it

Now that we’ve detailed some of the differences by breaking hats down piece by piece, here’s a quick review of the most common kinds of baseball caps around.

Classic hats

A classic cap is athletic and sporty. It might be fitted, elastic, Velcro, or snapback. With a curved bill and medium profile, they often have a team logo so you can proudly declare your dedication to the Dodgers, the Red Sox, or the Cubs (just to name a few and in no particular order).

Fitted and Flexfit hats

Fitted and Flexfit varieties also have a sporty vibe that often showcases team allegiance.

A notable difference is in the closures. Fitted means they don’t have any, and Flexfit has an elastic band built into the back. For the fitted ones, you’ll generally need to measure the circumference of your head, since there’s little wiggle room.

They’re both structured, have a medium to high crown, and either a slightly curved or flat brim.

Snapback hats

Snapbacks will always have the locking plastic closures that enable the wearer to adjust it as they see fit. They are popular and varied, coming in a variety of designs. They have a medium or high profile and a structured bill that can be flat or curved.

Trucker hats

double portion supply tribal foam trucker hat
Double Portion Supply’s Tribal Foam Trucker Hat

The trucker hat is a snapback (but not every snapback is a trucker). They have the closures in common, but the trucker tends to use foam material for both the bill and crown.

Another difference is that the back panels are made of mesh to allow for a little extra ventilation. The most common kind use foam material for the bill and front panels.

Double Portion Supply has a huge assortment of trucker hats, covering all styles and types. From our Solid Orange Foam Trucker to our Full Camo, there are plenty you can choose from.

Dad hats

The dad hat is a vintage-inspired six-panel low-profile crown and is popular because of the relaxed look and easy wearing.

Dad hats have a casual, moldable style, given their unstructured front panels. They have a curved brim and, most often, a metal buckle closure or clasp that enables a customizable fit.

Remember not to get hung up on the name because dad hats aren’t just for dad. Dad hats are what we grab when we’re on the go.

When your future’s so bright, you gotta wear shades…don’t forget to also don that dad hat!

Double Portion Supply is the largest snapback superstore in Hawaii. Since 2001, we’ve helped clients across the United States make their creative vision a reality. From low-profile dad hats to ANXD brand apparel, we carry everything you need to keep your own brand stocked. Plus, our custom services extend to T-shirt printing, so you stay fresh from head to toe. Get all the latest information by following us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.

Aaron Graziano