Hat vs. Cap: What's the Difference?

Hat vs. Cap: What's the Difference?

What's the difference between a hat vs cap? Hats (and caps) are a fundamental piece of your wardrobe and a mark of personality. With such a critical role in your life, it's important to understand the difference so you can make the right choice. We're here to solve the mystery of hat vs cap.

Hat vs Cap

The difference between a hat vs cap is one of semantics. A cap is a type of hat designed with specific features focused on comfort and essential style. The most significant difference between a hat vs cap is the type of crown and the option of a brim.

What Is a Hat?

A hat is any round head covering with a shaped crown and a brim. Hats come in a variety of shapes and sizes and serve many purposes.

Popular hat styles include:

The beach hat (or sun hat) — A cute, floppy hat that shelters beachgoers from harmful sun rays. Audrey Hepburn and Taylor Swift are known for their beach hats.

    Sun hat

    The bowler hat (or derby hat) — A rounded hat designed for horse jockeys. Charlie Chaplin always wore bowler hats.

    The fedora hat (or trilby hat) — An iconic hat that gives men and women of every age a vintage touch. Frank Sinatra and Johnny Depp made the fedora a trendy choice.

      Fedora hat

      The cowbow hat (or western hat) — A classic hat preferred by rodeo wrestlers, ranchers, and, of course, cowboys (and girls). John Wayne and Matthew McConaughey both love the western hat.

        Cowboy hat

        The bucket hat (or boonie hat) — A fitted hat that peaked in the 90s with the rap and counterculture communities. Gilligan (of Gilligan's Island) and L.L. Cool J are famous for their bucket hats.
          The ascot hat (or newsboy hat) — A low-profile cap with a visor made famous by newspaper boys and Thomas Shelby (of Peaky Blinders).

            As mentioned above, hats have two defining features: the crown and the brim. So, let's learn a bit more about them.

            What is a Crown?

            A crown is the dome-shaped part of a hat that sits on top of your head. Most hats are recognized by the shape of their crown. For example, fedora hats have teardrop-shaped crowns. Western hats feature a crease at the top. And many hats come with boxy crowns, like the bucket hat or top hat.

            What is a Brim?

            Most hats include a brim that circles the entire hat for sun protection or added style. Bowler hats are accentuated with a small brim around the crown, where beach hats have an oversized brim. Some styles have a partial brim (also known as a visor), like the ascot or baseball cap.

            There's a hat for every occasion and persuasion. Two of the most popular hat styles of the 21st century have been the baseball cap and beanie.

            What Is a Cap?

            Hat cap

            A cap is the second main style of headwear, which, like a hat, can be identified by the presence of two distinctive features. Caps are styled with a fitted, unshaped crown and most have a visor at the front instead of a full brim. Again, as with hats, there are several different types of caps, each with its own unique design.

            The baseball cap is the most ubiquitous example and comes in a few different styles. This category of hat is where Banner & Oak shines.

            The snapback cap — this a baseball cap with an adjustable closure on the back for a custom fit. The Sierra is a great example of a snapback cap. It has an adjustable plastic closure to make sure you get the right fit.

            The fitted cap — this a cap without any adjustable closure.

            The high-profile cap — has a crown height over four inches, so it sits higher on your head. The Alpine is a good example of a high-profile hat with a structured front panel.

            The low-profile cap — this rests directly on your head, with little (or no) space between your head and the top of the cap. Check out the Scrambler for a great example of a low-profile fit. One popular low-profile hat is the dad hat, with an unshaped, fitted crown and a curved brim. The other popular example is the beanie, which fits snugly against your head and folds over itself for a perfect fit (instead of featuring a visor). The Range shows you how stylish a beanie can be.

            And there's the ever-popular trucker cap — this is a high-profile snapback with a structured front panel and a mesh back. The Rockhopper is the quintessential trucker cap.

            What's the Difference?

            Generally speaking, there isn’t a literal, physical difference between the two. A cap is considered a type (or category) of hat. So, the difference between a hat vs cap comes down to individual terminology. The word "hat" refers to any hat that covers your head, with many styles boasting a brim or visor. A "cap" is a hat that comes in a specific set of styles, with an unshaped crown and (usually) a visor in the front.

            If you're looking for a formal, authoritative hat that shows distinction, check out the many hats worn over the decades. If you prefer a casual look that screams comfort and style, a Banner & Oak cap may be the choice for you.