Don't Their Heads Get Hot in the Summer?
June 10, 2009 6:23 AM   Subscribe

For the last several years I have seen an increase in young men (late teens to late twenties) wearing knit caps. Summer, Winter, the season doesn't seem to matter. My question is this. How and where did this "fashion statement" originate? And a secondary question would be, don't they get hot wearing those hats in the middle of the summer?
posted by Hanuman1960 to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (24 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
That's been an increasing fad for probably about the last fifteen years. I don't know exactly what's caused it, but if I had a guess I would tie it to the fact that snowboarding has become a huge hobby within that time. Just like skating or surfing (not as much with surfing since it's more localized to islands...unless you count Uggs) you have fads that cross over to mainstream. Knit hats keep bad hair in check just as other hats do.

secondary question would be, don't they get hot wearing those hats in the middle of the summer?

posted by P.o.B. at 6:31 AM on June 10, 2009

Clive Owen or some such started wearing them all the time and now it's a thing. I don't like it myself, just looking at knit caps makes my head itch.
posted by The Whelk at 6:33 AM on June 10, 2009

Pfft. 15 years? Mr. Nesmith might disagree.
posted by Wild_Eep at 6:41 AM on June 10, 2009 [4 favorites]

I wear them a lot in fall / winter / early spring for warmth but other than that, summer is too hot for a fashion statement.
posted by Mastercheddaar at 6:45 AM on June 10, 2009

I first noticed this back in the early 90's at an Ice-T / Bodycount concert. The whole band was wearing knit caps. Now I see kids everywhere doing it.

I realized a long time ago that, for a lot of people, fashion wins over comfort and practicality every time.
posted by bondcliff at 6:52 AM on June 10, 2009

I know that in at least one case, a celebrity is wearing a knit cap because his own natural "head covering," shall we say,, receding. That could be what prompted him and others to take up the habit; other may be in the same straits, or may just be copying them unawares.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:58 AM on June 10, 2009

Sometimes it is part of the clothing given to you in prison, and gangbangers (is that word still in use?) appropriated this as part of their wear. Perhaps The Monkees were in prison at one point?
posted by P.o.B. at 7:02 AM on June 10, 2009 [2 favorites]

Seconding the headgear as baldness cover-up. Alternative head-coverings are not seen to be as cool (baseball caps too fratty, "real" hats such as fedoras make it look like you're trying too hard).
posted by exogenous at 7:18 AM on June 10, 2009

I wear really light or crochet-y ones in the summer (still look pretty solid knit). My hair is curly curly and long, they keep it down and not frizzy. I'm a girl though. Men my age seem to do it because it hides messy and receding hair, in addition to fashion. If they're light wool or cotton, the fabric breathes really well and wearing a light cap makes your head feel cooler than having the sun beat down on your bare head. Also, we call them toques :)
posted by variella at 7:33 AM on June 10, 2009

One of my friends thinks that knit caps are the best choice for open-window/top-down driving in the summertime, as they keep hair out of one's face more effectively than other kinds of headgear.
posted by box at 7:38 AM on June 10, 2009

Receding hairline here. I wear them during the winter months to keep my head warm.

Summer time comes around and they all go into the drawer for storage. I couldn't imagine using a knit cap as a fashion statement in the summer. It seems to me that wearing a knit cap in the summer is kind alike wearing sunglasses indoors; pointless, uncomfortable, and it makes you look like an asshole.
posted by Gravitus at 7:45 AM on June 10, 2009

For a certain segment of the knit hat crowd, it was because Jesse James wore one all the time in Monster Garage. I suppose they would make sense in an environment where there was lots of dust, grease, metal shavings and welding.
posted by bonobothegreat at 7:53 AM on June 10, 2009

I wore a black knit cap every day for about 2 years. This was in maybe the early '90s. I guess I thought it looked cool, and then it became a habit.

And as to the "isn't it hot in the summer?" question: fashion only involves comfort when it is fashionable to be comfortable.
posted by dirtdirt at 7:56 AM on June 10, 2009 [1 favorite]

Perhaps Colin Ferrel could answer that
posted by Gungho at 8:03 AM on June 10, 2009

I totally forgot about Waldo!
posted by P.o.B. at 8:14 AM on June 10, 2009

I always assumed that it started as a handy variation on the do-rag.
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:16 AM on June 10, 2009

You don't lose or keep in most of your heat through your head contrary to popular rumor and it's not much different wearing a knit cap then a baseball hat.

People wear baseball hats in the high heat all the time. =\
posted by zephyr_words at 8:20 AM on June 10, 2009

People were rocking this look when I was in college 20 years ago. Those folks were probably in the thrall of the grunge look where wearing a knit cap meant your hair could stay dirty and/or unkempt but people weren't constantly making comments about it. Nowadays it's good for keeping hair manageable, keeping the head warm, the aformentioned keeping hair hidden and just generally because it's nice and cozy wearing something warm on your head. There was also the Canadian Bob&Doug tuque thing which was also formative back when I was in school.

In case you haven't picked up on it, I'm wearing a knit cap right now. Even in "summer" it's still chilly in the mornings here.
posted by jessamyn at 8:31 AM on June 10, 2009 [1 favorite]

People wear baseball hats in the high heat all the time.
Baseball caps have brims, thus keeping the sun out of one's eyes. Of course, this argument is nullified when the caps are worn indoors, or backwards--that's just douchiness.
posted by MrMoonPie at 8:47 AM on June 10, 2009

I keep a basketful of $2-a-piece drugstore-cutout-bin tuques (with a few nicer ones). They've always been handy whether my hair has been long, buzzed, or receding. It feels like a warm hug on the head. It also does help me with temperature regulation--it's always body temp, and there's not so much of a shock when I go from hot environs to cold (A/C in summer, heat in winter). Even when I'm in AZ, it provides a good shield against the blazing sun (where you wear long sleeves in 110-degree heat and remain comfortable), though a baseball cap or bandanna looks less conspicuous.

(I don't wear it in Puerto Rico, though, where the air itself acts like a warm hug around the head)
posted by not_on_display at 9:06 AM on June 10, 2009

See also, Twee fashion.
posted by Jezebella at 5:55 PM on June 10, 2009

Mike Nesmith, ancient history, I thought it was a black thing.

don't they get hot wearing those hats

... and don't they itch? I can't stand wearing one for longer'n about ten minutes!
posted by Rash at 6:58 PM on June 10, 2009

bonobothegreat writes "I suppose they would make sense in an environment where there was lots of dust, grease, metal shavings and welding."

A knit cap is dangerous during welding and grinding as it can trap molten metal next to your head. One wants to wear a smooth cotton (doesn't melt like synthetics) or leather hat. Preferablly with a downward pointing bill that will cover the back of your neck and extend past your collar (few things are more exciting than having a ball of molten metal roll down your back under your shirt and into your, um, gluteal cleft).
posted by Mitheral at 8:36 PM on June 10, 2009 [1 favorite]

... and don't they itch? I can't stand wearing one for longer'n about ten minutes!

Headwear you're not used to itches. Headwear you're used to doesn't itch. Unless you've actually got lice or a rash or something, an itchy scalp is just your brain going "Whoa! Something's on my head! There isn't usually anything on my head. Hey, fingers, go check that out, wouldja?"
posted by nebulawindphone at 5:21 AM on June 11, 2009

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