Newsboy caps are derived from the iconic flat cap that has a history stretching back over 600 years ago from North England. Originally named a bonnet, it changed its name to ‘cap’ somewhere in the 1700s except in Scotland where they call it a ‘bunnet’ even today. The newsboy fashion is still part of the American culture today, from Cabbies to celebrities.
5 intriguing facts about the newsboy include the fact that the ‘Peaky Blinders’ were a real gang and were known by their newsboy caps. In 16th century England, you could be fined for not wearing your cap and the 20th century British upper-class used the peaky as leisurewear.
The comfortable ‘working man’s cap is still a popular form of headwear today and donned by celebrities, cabbies, and fashionable ladies alike. The newsboy was not limited to the young news sellers of the early 1900s but has a long and interesting history. If you would like to learn more about the newsboy, here are some intriguing facts about the iconic cap. Discover more about the origins of the newsboy cap here.
You Could Be Fined for Not Wearing Your Cap on Sundays
The newsboy cap is a descendent of the flat cap which originated in 14 century England that funnily enough was called a ‘bonnet.’ An interesting fact is that Queen Elizabeth in 1571, made it compulsory for all men six years and older to wear these wool caps on Sundays. Those who did not face a penalty of 3/4d per day.
The Queen imposed this parliamentary law to boost domestic wool consumption and discourage wool trade from the Spanish-held lands. Because only the nobility was allowed to escape this law. The flat cap became associated with the working classes and boys and men in particular.
The Newsboy Cap Was Once a Sign of Upper-Class Leisure
Mass Irish immigration to the USA brought the newsboy cap to America and influenced the American cap fashions in the 19th and 20th centuries. The 8-piece ‘paddy cap’ or newsboy cap became part of American culture. Meanwhile, in Europe, the Newsboy had gone through a social reversal of fortune.
With the arrival of open-topped motor cars, the cap was adopted by the English Upper Classes as a driving cap as well as the chosen headwear for leisure activities such as golf, hunting, and leisure pursuits in general. The Newsboy became more posh and hatmakers turned to expensive tweeds and handwoven fabrics to elevate the humble Newsboy for its new social rank.
The Newsboy Is a Fashion Statement
The iconic style of the newsboy has been popularised by both media and adopted by stars such as David Beckham and Brad Pitt. Leonardo DiCaprio has also made the style his own and is often out and about with his signature Newsboy.
The 2000s saw a resurgence in interest in the humble Newsboy, with celebrities such as Cameron Diaz, Brittany Spears, and Nicole Richie showing that the newsboy could be a ‘newsgirl’ just as well. The BBC show ‘Peaky Blinders caused an upswing of interest in the Newsboy, and the style became assimilated into the burgeoning “steampunk” and Hipster culture of the last decade. Check out this super popular newsboy hat on Amazon.
The Newsboy Is Different From a Flat Cap
Although the newsboy is similar to the traditional flat cap there are distinctive differences between the two styles. The newsboy cap has a rounder body with the signature button on top which some say was carried down from the Scottish tam o’ shanter. It is typically made with an eight-panel design but can also sport a six-panel construction.
The more rounded shape makes the hat stand differently on the head, and slightly more puffy than the sleek brim of the scally cap. The newsboy takes further variations such as the 8-quarter cap or 8/4 cap. The top of the flat cap or Ivy cap is made from one solid panel of fabric that has a smoother appearance than the newsboy, with a snap that holds the body of the cap to the brim. Read more about different types of flat caps here.
The ‘Peaky Blinders’ Were a Real Gang
The BBC series that made the newsboy biome popular in mainstream culture once again was based on a real gang based in Birmingham England from the late 9th century to the early 1900s. The gang was made up of lower and middle class and rebelled against the harsh economic deprivations of working-class Britain.
The Peaky is a reference to the newsboy caps that the gang adopted as their trademark and historians believe the ‘blinders’ to be slang for a person of dapper appearance. Otherwise, some historians believe that the ‘blinder’ term referred to their MO of pulling a victim’s cap over their face from behind, before assaulting them. Discover more about the Peaky Blinders and their hats here.
Comfortable working-class wear or signs of a Hipster? The newsboy will continue to thrive as each generation reinvents this faithful old classic. Comfortable and iconic, the newsboy suits all ages and genders and moves in and out of fashion almost like clockwork. If you make the newsboy your signature, history has proven that fashion will follow you while donning your peaky.