Maybe no one told you that you should lose the dad hat. Maybe no one told you it was a dad hat. But that worn-out, beat-up baseball cap from college that you just dug out of the couch is a dad hat—and it’s over. You won’t even miss it once you try the top alternatives to the beloved dad hat.
Like four-day stubble and plaid flannel shirts, dad hats are a cliché; you can do better. If you’ve heard that dad hats are actually a cool trend, well, yes and no. Dad hats are chic on reality starlets sitting courtside to cheer on their pro-baller boyfriends and on Kanye West’s kids, who wear them with their tiny fur coats. But on you? Dad hats are never “in fashion” on actual dads.
No worries. There’s no need to look like someone you’re not with a fedora, but there’s a whole world of bed-headwear that’s right for you.
A skullcap fit that hits too high above your ears looks too “longshoreman.” Those that are oversized, slouchy, and pushed back too far are way too “hipster.” Find a basic, well-fitting knit with a cuff, and you can take your beanie anywhere from street to sleek and stay warm while doing it.
It’s less frumpy than a fisher hat and isn’t obnoxious if you don’t go hip-hop. A dark canvas or nylon topper will protect you from the rain and hide rumpled hair. If you prefer maximum casual, winter buckets come in denim and even shearling, while leather buckets are unquestionably high-end. It’ll go with bomber jackets, high-tops, and jerseys and will vaguely suggest that you could hang with the adult LL Cool J.
Working men have been sporting low-key newsboy caps since the days of “Peaky Blinders” in wool blends and muted plaids. But they’re staples of style icons like Idris Elba, David Beckham, and Brad Pitt too. Watch that yours isn’t too full on top or that the brim is spilling over into beret territory. We don’t recommend wearing the newsboy with sweats, but it’ll work with jeans and even blazers.
How is a baseball cap distinct from a dad hat? A dad hat is faded, frayed, and knows its way around a washing machine. But it’s time for your top alternative to the beloved dad hat: a grownup baseball cap that has an actual shape and some personality but—plot twist!—no logo for a losing sports team. Upgrade to more high-end materials, like cashmere and double-faced wool, without any logos or messages. Shock and amaze your kids with leather caps and suede brims or even an unexpected texture like animal skin. Just stick to dark neutrals for now.
Once you graduate to more advanced hats, you can even find hybrids that are sharp baseball caps in the front but all beanie in the back. Your goal should be to move past “old-school.” Call your new look “sports luxe,” and you’ll always be in style.