How does one describe baseball-style hats correctly? March 21 2017

A reply to a Reddit poster who asks about how to describe hat criteria in order to fit one's head.

Exactly. There isn't a good vocabulary for fit beyond dimensions for mass-made hats, and that's because a single production run will fit 80% of the population without having to do an expensive, time consuming equipment changeover to fit the remaining 20% of heads. Those heads buy bespoke hats, where the designer/hat maker gets those actual measurements from one's head.

measuring for hatsMeasure for cloche pillbox hats

Persons with perfectly shaped heads are called models and their job is to make any hat look good. In these images measurements are taken to create a cloche hat. For other hats, measure across the mid forehead just above the ears with a measuring tape or ribbon that does not stretch. Don't use a string because it creases the skin and necks down the measurment erroneously. 

Here are a few other dimensions besides hat size or circumference. First shape: 80% of heads are oval shaped; the rest are round or elongated-oval (in Western cultures). Bow and ask a friend to tell you. For the same circumference, a hat will feel tight on the sides of a round head, yet tight in the front or back of an elongated-oval head. So choose the hat opening accordingly because some styles tend to be round (like newsboys or bowlers) or oval (like flat caps and cowboy hats).

Next dome size. Again, using the 80% rule, a man's dome size averages 14" when measured from the mid forehead, over the top, back down to that divot just below the skull. Taken together with the circumference, which is measured around at mid forehead (not at the hairline) and just above the ears, suggests whether a wearer needs a high-crown hat (like a trucker style) or a so-called low profile baseball cap.

A personal consideration is how high above the ear the wearer prefers to have the lower edge of the crown rest. Some prefer it to rest 1/2" above where the ear joins the head, but I've seen large-domed noggins have a low profile cap 2-3" above the ear as their sweet spot.

The preceding suggests one figure out where the base of the crown (the sides) rests. Some prefer it close to the ears and low across the forehead, or at the hairline and tipped back to catch the bulge at the back of one's head (if one's head isn't flat back there), or resting a couple of inches above the ears. Hat styles and head shapes have to find one another.

A third consideration is forehead size and profile. Those who fall into the 80% category probably have an oval, crescent shape forehead. Then it may be short, medium or high between brow and hairline which plays into the crown height.

Foreheads falling outside of the 80% category could have a broad, flat forehead. If so, the standard baseball cap and curved visor isn't going to fit well and the hat's lines will distort so it won't conform to the head--wrinkles and bulges result. Here, a rapper style ball cap and visor may fit better since the visor is designed to attach to the crown in a longer if flatter arc and the front crown of the hat is also flatter. Five-panel trucker hats also have a flatter front panel. 

So, if you can measure the head in terms of circumference, shape, dome size, forehead shape and desired lower-crown distance to ear, you may be able to identify styles that meet one or more of your criteria, then seek a style or hat maker that can mix and match them.

All the style elements can be dissected and then sewn together.

Baseball hats often have six panels; truckers may have 3, 4, or 5 panels depending; cadet styles have two panels--the side and a top. Each conforms to the shape of one's head differently, so try encorporating panel design into the specification for your head.

In the end, your head has been designed perfectly for you. The hat should be made to make you look good.

Low profile six panel baseball capStandard profile ballcap six panelsTrucker hat tall crown five panel, single front panelSix panel flat brim tall crown rapper hatRapper hat five panel flat brimCadet hat two panel