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Wednesday 1 October 2014

Paul Galvin: If the cap fits, wear it

Paul Galvin strikes gold with hats – if only he had the right head shape

Paul Galvin

Published 02/12/2012 | 06:00

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Last week's head envy made me put on my thinking cap. Who, I wondered, is making caps any more in Ireland? What has become of the traditional caubeen?

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Millinery is booming in this country. Kerry's own Carol Kennelly is living proof. She is an award-winning milliner and Kerry eyes are smiling on her.

Fascinators have captured the imagination of women, who now float around Punchestown and The Curragh with head gear that looks like space satellites orbiting their heads. It's well for them.

Millinery is the sole reserve of the ladies, of course. So who is watching over the men?

Worry not – I have just the men for ye hat lovers out there: Caps 4 Chaps. These young chaps are from Dublin and have created Ireland's first dedicated online cap store for men.

Using mainly tweed, they are reinventing the classic flat caps that our grandfathers and great-grandfathers wore.

Think of any film you've seen of a ship leaving Queenstown, or any other port in the 1950s and 1960s. Now think of all those young men looking back in anxiety, waving their caps goodbye to loved ones, and you get the picture.

There's plenty to choose from, too. From the bestselling brown Hanna made from Donegal tweed to the Barbour collection with its herringbone and plaid offerings.

The truth is that these iconic symbols of a generation have been lost. They are really worn only in photoshoots these days. Or on celebrities.

If you check out the chaps' website, there's a section called Chaps Rocking Caps. This is where my head envy really kicks in.

There's everyone from David Beckham to Brad Pitt to Benicio Del Toro wearing all manner of flat caps.

Girls are catered for, too. The chaps are thinking of everyone here, so if Gwen Stefani can rock one then so can the rest.

Of all the cap types Caps 4 Chaps stock – some homemade, some imported – my favourite is the Derby. It reminds me of when I was young, strangely enough. A lot of the older men on my road wore them.

So how do you wear the flat cap? It's a difficult piece to incorporate correctly. Beckham wears his casually with jeans and a cardigan. I prefer them with tailoring or more formal wear. A bit like the lads wore them back in the day.

If not with a suit and/or waistcoat, then certainly with a shirt and blazer; or, if you want to straddle the two, you could wear one with a denim shirt.

If you are worried about cap size more than head size then fear not. Every size from small to extra large is available on the site, plus a very useful size guide is included.

Ever have trouble finding a cap that fits properly? Get your measuring tape out, say Caps 4 Chaps, and measure the circumference of your noggin about half an inch above your eyes, as that's where most flat caps lie.

That gives them an idea of the right size and they can tailor your flat cap accordingly.

All this is hypothetical to me. My head is not hat compatible.

I would require a head transplant to pull off a flat cap. And I might just consider it after seeing what's on offer.

On a serious note, these flat caps would make a great Christmas gift this year. For a friend, boyfriend, girlfriend, father or even grandfather.

After all, he's the man who made them famous.

Caps 4 Chaps. Style with sentiment.

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