The In-depth Guide to Hat Styles

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Hat styles, and how they’re known, vary from region to region. Over the years I’ve learnt a lot about different regional styles and traditional shapes, and I’ve also seen how the definitions blur. There are however a few common features, styles and shapes and I’ve outlined them below.

When writing this I really wanted to define the different styles but at the same time, also note which are attributes. On the new website I want the search function to be fully tailored to Hat knitting patterns, which is something no other database does. To help folks using the new search feature an accompanying article was a must but also, I really ought to be defining these anyways!

I’ve hinted about some of these illustrations over on Patreon and here they are – all drawn by me on the Remarkable 2. They didn’t turn out too badly, eh? I’ve plans for some of these to be developed into print via Spoonflower but each time I sit down to work on them, something else comes and grabs my attention. Eventually though, I’m sure!

The beanie is a pretty standard shape. Sometimes known as a half-dome, it hugs the head. A ribbed brim is common, and there’s little to no change in fit between the brim and the body. It usually has a smooth crown but it can sometimes be gathered. It’s occasionally topped with a pompom. Beanies hug the head and often have a sportier look to them.

An example of this style is the Ledger Beanie.

The watchcap is very similar to a beanie in overall shape. It’s distinguishing feature is it’s deep, chunky brim, which is designed for warmth and is usually achieved by working the ribbed brim extra long so it can be folded up. It has a vintage look to it and because of the thickness of the brim, it frames the face differently to a beanie.

An example of this style is the Thrifter Beanie.

The pixie Hat’s defining feature is it’s pointy crown. It’s shown here with a fitted brim and body, much like a beanie, but you can add a pointy crown to just about any style of Hat. How sharp or soft the point is varies. They can be playful or casual, but they’re not just for kids.

An example of this style is the Beelore Hat.

The earflap Hat’s defining features are, well, the flaps that cover the ears. It’s shown here as similar to the beanie with a smooth crown but that’s not a requirement. Earflap Hats can be pixie Hats, they can be slouchy Hats. They can even be berets – what makes them an earflap Hat are the two pieces of fabric that grow down from the brim edge.

An example of this style is the Selkie Hat.

Much like the earflap Hat, a helmet style Hat is designed to keep the ears warm. The one key difference is that the brim and earflaps are one, and that the coverage doesn’t end with the ears – it continues all the way around creating a style that keeps the back of the neck warm, too.

An example of this style is the Swinton Hat.

Much like the helmet style, an aviator style has a continuous one-piece brim and ear coverage. It’s defining feature is the fold up flap at the front – it’s as if the extra deep band goes all the way around the Hat but you have to fold up a section at the front so it doesn’t cover your eyes.

An example of this style is the Karenin Hat.

The pillbox Hat is a vintage style. It commands more structure than a beanie yet still fits closely around the head. What’s unique about this style is it’s flat crown that appears to sit decisively on top of a tapering cylinder, rather than forming around the head. They can be tall or not so tall but if there isn’t that definition at the top, it’s probably a beanie in disguise.

An example of this style is the Taboosh Hat.

The ponytail Hat is another beanie look-a-like but it isn’t always. The whole point to this Hat is that you can wear your ponytail without it being squashed, which means it’s a Hat with a hole at the top. Sometimes the hole has a ruffle or drawstring, as shown here, or sometimes it’s simply a beanie that didn’t quite get finished.

An example of this style is the Arcus Hat.

The cloche is another vintage style, designed to frame the face. The name literally means ‘bell’ implying that it flares out a little at the bottom whilst otherwise being generally fitted. They’re often asymmetrical, or worn asymmetrically, and a split brim can accentuate that.

An example of this style is the Campello Hat.

The brimmed Hat comes in many guises! It could be a subtle brim, much like a bucket Hat, or a wide I-demand-to-be-a-circle brim as we’d expect to see on a sun Hat. Because the brim is designed to sit away from the head the Hat usually fits snuggly around the body so that it doesn’t fall off.

An example of this style is the Molly Hat.

The peaked brim, sometimes known as a billed Hat depending on the rest of the Hat style and regional variations, is a brim that sits away from the body but isn’t continuous like a full brimmed Hat. When worn on a roomier Hat like a beret it has a vintage style to it, when worn on a beanie it’ll look like more like a sports cap.

An example of this style is the Camden Cap.

The square top Hat has gained popularity in recent years as the ‘pussy Hat’, yet it’s always been a favourite amongst kids or grown-ups with a playful style. It’s defining feature – the top that’s created by the cylinder of knitting closing straight across – makes it an ideal Hat for newer knitters as it requires very little shaping.

An example of this style is the Tinker Hat.

The beret is a traditional French style, yet we see similar styles from other regions. It’s defining features are a fuller body, gained by increasing about 50% in the circumference from the brim into the body, and it’s large smooth crown that presents as a circle when flat. It can be worn to one side or lower around the face to hug the head and cover the ears.

An example of this style is the Elsica Hat.

The slouch Hat is a style that defies definition. Slouch can be many things but essentially it’s an increase in the volume of the Hat. That could mean extra width, but not quite a beret, or extra length like an extra tall beanie, or a bit of both. Here it’s shown as a bit of both in what I call the ‘comfort slouch’.

An example of this style is the Construct Hat.

The bonnet is another style that sees some variation, yet what links them is the split brim – usually worn at the back – which then follows the line of the chin, with the Hat sitting lower around the face to fully frame it. The brim is often deep, but not always, and is sometimes tapered, but not always. The body of the Hat can be fitted but is usually a little roomy but not too slouchy with either a gathered or fitted crown.

An example of this style is the Lifted Hat.

The envelope Hat is a style that looks cleverer than it is. It can be slouchy or fitted. It can be found on berets, beanies and slouchies alike. What makes it so is the way the crown is created with no shaping whatsoever. When worn on a slouchy Hat, it drapes with definition.

An example of this style is the Slonnet Hat.

The stocking cap is essentially a pixie Hat stretched out and then some. It has a long tapering point which falls down behind the head or around the neck. The brim and the body of the Hat are usually fitted – it’s the extra long cone shape that sets this one apart. The tip of the Hat is often adorned with tassels or a pompom.

An example of this style is the Sweet Winkie Hat.

The structural Hat is more sculptural than the others, more structural than even the pillbox. It’s hard to define, but if it has sections that grow away from the body, or it’s crown is created in some way that means it barely resembles the familiar crown of a woolly Hat, then it probably belongs in this group of misfits. These are my favourite Hats to make.

An example of this style might be the Tudor Cap or the Torsione Hat.

That’s a whopping 18 styles!

There’s no doubt a few regional variations or styles missing, and I’d love to hear from you if you spot a style and know it as something else, likewise if there’s a style I’ve missed – please leave a comment below and share your thoughts!

It’s worth repeating that many of the key features that folks often feel define a style are actually attributes, and that those features can be used on another style or mixed up with other attributes. This is something you’ll often see in Woolly Wormhead patterns – I’ve patterns for a slouchy pixie Hat or a slouchy bonnet for instance – and that’s why we’re aiming to build the new website (not yet live at the time this article was published) with a database that explores the many ways we can make or wear a Hat. Because why not knit or crochet outside of the box?

The image shown at the beginning of this post features my Daisy pattern – a sideways knit lace wide brimmed pattern. It’s a fun make!

Woolly Wormhead

Woolly Wormhead is an internationally reknowned knit designer, specialising in Hats, technique and construction. Their patterns and techniques have been used by thousands of knitters worldwide. Join The Woolly Hat Society to be the first to learn of their latest projects and special offers!

7 Comments

  1. Angela

    Wow! Brilliant and succinct summary.
    What I would really like to know is how to tell which style/s will suit a particular person? I knit my young adult son a beanie and it looked terrible on him, then he bought himself a watchcap with a fur brim and it looked great. He just needed more thickness around the brim. The beanie made his whole head look skinny. I’m guessing that it’s mostly to do with face shape, but would love to see a guide along the lines of the above hat styles summary.

    Reply
    • Woolly Wormhead

      Can I suggest the ‘Get ahead, Get a Hat’ article – it’s an article I wrote for Knit Now magazine a number of years ago about which styles suits which faces better. It’s an older article and doesn’t cover as many styles as this one does, but it’s a good starting point for exploring Hats and face shapes, hair styles and more:

      https://www.woollywormhead.com/blog/2013/4/22/get-ahead-get-a-hat-pt1.html

      https://www.woollywormhead.com/blog/2013/4/23/get-ahead-get-a-hat-pt2.html

      Reply
      • Angela

        Thank you so much for your reply and for the links to your ‘Get ahead, Get a Hat’ article. I’ve had a read and it has got me thinking a bit more about which hat styles suit different faces. As you said, it’s a good starting point. Appreciate you sharing from your wealth of hat and knitting knowledge.

        Reply
        • Woolly Wormhead

          you’re most welcome!

          There’s definitely a lot more to choosing the right Hat and it’s not easy to give a simple answer – this is one reason I don’t offer this kind of advice any more except when I do rare trunk shows or in-person classes.

          It’s more about finding what you want, what works with your unique qualities and what you’re comfortable with, if that makes sense!

          Reply
  2. Susie Hunt

    Love your wonderful patterns, information, everything, Woolly!
    Printing this page to a pdf was 18 pages, so I edited it in Word. Only 6 pages, it has all the same info, is legible with plenty of white space. I would be happy to share this pdf with you. I was in IT for 22 years where part of that job was designing screens & reports and would be interested in volunteering to help you with layouts. Retired now, I am not up to date with the latest programming languages.
    Susie
    Susie

    Reply
    • Woolly Wormhead

      The layout options in this version of Squarespace, which is pretty outdated now, are rather limited I’m afraid.

      Once the new website is finished and the blog exported there I’ll have a chance to improve some of the layouts including this one!

      There’s a few things I have to bear in mind, such as whether it’s viewed on a desktop or phone, so the contents need to be dynamic, but also accessibility – which is why for now it’s laid out as it is.

      It isn’t the best for printing, I agree, but it’s the best I can do whilst the blog is still on this old site. There are scaling options within the browser, that can reduce the number of pages in the interim!

      Reply
  3. Pokykntr

    I’ve not done a beta knit before. Are we to buy and do all hats by Aug 31, or pick a few? Thanks. Mary d

    Reply

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