Not be mistaken for the flat cap (which has a flatter shape and a shorter peak), the name of baker boy or newsboy cap today refers to a cap of more generous proportions. This is one reason Karen likes to also describe it as a ‘beret-cap’. Also called Gatsby cap and newsie cap, it traditionally has 8 panels and a feature button in its centre.
Practical Headwear, Made For Work
Worn by working class men and boys in England, Scotland and Ireland during the late 1800’s, as more workers emigrated to the USA in the early 1900’s the baker boy cap became ubiquitous everywhere, from buiding sites to docks, via factories.
In the USA throughout 1910-1930 it beacame increasingly common for young boys to wear this style of cap while selling newspapers on the street, so the name newsboy cap was adopted. This was before the advent of baseball caps, which quickly replaced the tweed cap in later years.
There is another reason for the uptake of the cap in everyday menswear: it goes back quite a few years.
A Legacy of Sumptuary Law
It’s quite amazing to think that an English Act of Parliament passed in the 16th century could have influenced men’s fashion in such a lasting way. Sumptuary Laws were intended to regulate the consumption of certain items: for example clothing, food or furniture, especially “inordinate expenditure” according to someone’s social rank.
In an effort to reinforce social hierarchy and morals, as well as stimulate domestic sales of wool, the Act of Parliament passed in 1571 stated that boys and men over the age of 6, “except for the nobillity and persons of degree” should wear woollen caps on Sundays and Holidays, or face a fine of three farthings. Whether this law had much effect in keeping the everyman out of trouble is to be questioned - But the cap’s lasting legacy in everyday wear cannot be denied.
1920’s Fashion, 21st Century Style
With the return of Peaky Blinders this year, the popular television crime drama set in 1920s Birmingham in the aftermath of World War I, the baker boy or newsboy cap trend is looking set to continue.
Pictured below are Karen’s own interpretations of this timeless classic. They are creatively designed using Karen’s signature pattern-cutting style, with a slight asymmetry.
The baker boy-style beret-cap comes in two sizes: PB (left) is the more generous shape, while Perry (right) is designed with a narrower volume. Available in fine lambswool or Irish linen. See them in the shop.
At the heart of Karen Henriksen’s creative practice is a unique approach to creating new hat shapes, using pattern-cutting and expert tailoring. The resulting styles are both distinctive and individual, and crafted with care in Cockpit Arts, London