The origins of the flat cap: from England to Sicily

Know more about the story and the origins of the flat cap: from England to Sicily. Discover the tradition of the most popular hat in South Italy

CLAUDIA VILLA
Contributor

flat cap

The origins of the coppola

The Flat cap hat or “Coppola hat” or Paddy cap was born in the United Kingdom, following a somewhat particular law. In fact, according to historical archives, during the reign of the Tudors, men were required to wear only wool hats made in England.

To be precise, in 1571 a law was instituted in Parliament which provided for this dictum: on Sundays and on the occasion of the holidays all males over the age of six - unless they were nobles and people of high rank - had to wear hats of wool produced exclusively in the UK.

This law may seem strange but it had a very specific purpose, it served to defend and support the domestic production of wool, thus protecting it from the importation of foreign materials. In fact, wool was the basis of the local economy. Thus, the so-called flat cap became extremely popular, both in England and in Ireland, as lovers of Peaky Blinders well know.

Initially it was a hat for the lower classes, but soon it also spread among the nobility. Then, from the Old Continent, the English flat cap was also exported to the United States of America, becoming popular in the area adjacent to Boston.

Before the great popularity of the baseball hat, the flat cap was the most popular headdress: both young and old loved it, and it was often worn by teenagers even when they went to school. The flat cap was considered a very versatile cap, it could fit both in a formal context and in everyday life. It was even used for sports.

Flat Cap in Italy

Now let's see how the flat cap has become such a popular hat also in Italy. In Italy the tradition of the coppola seems to date back between the late 19th century and the first half of the 20th century, when several English families settled in Sicily in search of fortune and profitable investments.

As usual, the British brought their traditions and way of dressing to Sicily. Thus the flat cap became a true cornerstone of Sicilian culture, not a simple imported cap but a symbol of the island and its traditions. There are two possibilities on the origins of the name. The first is that the word "coppola" is nothing more than the derivation of the term "cup". In fact, the shape of the flat cap resembles that of a cup.

The most plausible origin, however, is that the term "coppola" is a diminutive of “capo”, which goes in Italian to indicate a summit. The term would thus be closely related to the convex shape of the dome of a headdress.


coppola cappello

Characteristics of the flat cap

The flat cap was born as a typically masculine hat made of wool, very often with tweed fabrics, which are resistant and warm. The inspiration is obviously of English origin.

The coppola is designed to lay lightly on a person's head, giving a classic and elegant style. Due to the elongated shape from the back of the head to the peak, the hat got its name in the Anglo-Saxon world of flat cap. In Italy, the coppola has been linked for a long time to the image of the typical man of the South, in particular of Sicily.

In Sicily, this cap was worn by all men and over time it had become a symbol of wealth and nobility. The nobles wore it in the classic way, while the boys often wore it inside out, as a distinctive sign. This particular way of wearing the flat cap gave them a bold and subversive look, far from the conventions of the time.

The flat cap was undoubtedly born as a heavy wool hat, useful for protecting yourself from the cold without losing elegance.

Over time, many new versions have obviously been born, even with eccentric and particular designs. Cotton, linen, patchwork caps were born. We went around Italy looking for the best, so that you can choose your favorite from the comfort of your home. Discover our selection and lose yourself among the ancient and wonderful stories that accompany the creation of these fantastic hats, that were born in England but soon became a strong symbol of Italian spirit.

How to clean and maintain a flat cap

When it comes to woolen clothing and accessories, we always recommend careful hand washing. Watch out for using hot water! Always use lukewarm water with a drop of mild, bleach-free detergent. Before dipping the hat, check that it does not discolor on contact.

Clean the inside of the cap well, especially where the forehead rests, which is usually always the dirtiest part. In fact, sweat and dirt tend to accumulate there. So, after a first wash, rinse the hat with cold water and absolutely avoid squeezing it! Finally, let it dry in the sun: this way it will keep its shape and won't get damaged.

Flat cap for men and its similar

The flat cap has many variations, with precise specifications. The most famous is the newsboy cap, which is a rounded cap with a low profile and a small, stiff brim. Both the flat cap and the newsboy hat are usually made in Irish tweed. The main difference between the two types is that the newsboy hat is rounder and wider. In addition, it has seams in the top, which divide the hat into eight areas.

Therefore, there is a third extremely popular model, similar to the flat cap and the newsboy hat: it is the Ivy cap or Scally cap. This type of hat often comes with a minimalist style, a rounded shape and a stiff hat back.

Conclusions

Whether you are looking for a winter or summer hat, the flat cap is always a very good choice. In fact, in winter it can guarantee shelter from the cold, while in summer it is excellent for covering yourself from the strong rays of the sun: you just have to choose the model and the accurate material.

Our favorite manufacturer is Doria 1905, which for more than a century has been making hand-made hats, following tradition and using materials that guarantee a near-unlimited duration of the hats.

Shop the article

Boris Hats Doria
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Boris - Made in Italy Bucket | Ad Hoc Atelier
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Lord - Made in Italy Felix Cap | Ad Hoc Atelier
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Jigen - Sea Straw

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Roberto Hats Doria
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