We’re gonna say right up front: There is no judginess in this post. Zero. If something sounds that way, we didn’t mean it. You do you. Free to be you and me. Let your freak flag fly. “Judge not that we be not judged,” that’s us. So now that we have that out of the way …

There are two kinds of people in the world: those who wear unstructured hats and those who don’t. (Actually there are lots more kinds than that, but we’re going with this for now.)

An unstructured hat says something about you. It looks relaxed because you’re relaxed. It’s comfortable because you’re comfortable. It’s casual and unpretentious. It’s friendly. Think about your best friend; the one you most loved to spend time with because you fit together so well, so naturally. When the two of you were together you could each be exactly what you were.

That’s what it’s like wearing an unstructured hat.

So ... what is it?

Let’s start with what it’s not: a hat.

It’s a cap. It has a bill on the front but no brim. That’s a cap or, depending on what part of the country you’re from, a baseball cap. Some people put baseball caps in the general category of “hat,” but never when they’re keeping in mind the origins. Nobody says “baseball hat” — at least, not without others laughing at them. Still, for some reason, the retail clothing industry puts what we’re talking about in their category of unstructured hats. But when we talk about an unstructured hat, we mean a kind of cap.

Here’s something else it isn’t: structured. That means it doesn’t have any buckram in it. Buckram is a kind of fabric used for very particular purposes. Remember when you were in elementary school and got in trouble for tearing the cover off that hardbound book?

No? Just us? Well, if you had done it you would have found a strip of buckram down the spine of the book; an ancient method of construction you’d have had plenty of time to think about as you sat next to us in detention.

Buckram is a fabric you almost never see because it’s usually inside another fabric. It’s stiff, sometimes woven in a mesh, and it gets put in there to add strength and shape. It’s been used a lot in women’s hats — actual hats — over the years, like the cloche, which, while stylish, would have looked dumb on a baseball field.

An unstructured hat doesn’t have that ...

… but a structured cap does. So let’s talk about how a baseball cap is put together.

The top part of a cap, the round part that fits over your head, is called the crown. (That’s just what it’s called. Don’t take it too seriously. It doesn’t mean you can get out of a speeding ticket or a Senate subcommittee meeting or anything just because you’re wearing a cap.) The crown of a cap is made of (usually) six triangles meeting at one corner and stitched together on their sides.
All six of those triangles are pretty much the same, except in a structured cap. In a structured cap, the front two rectangles are filled with buckram. What does that do? Well, think of the caps real baseball players wear when they’re on the field. See how the front of the crown stands up straight? That’s because of the buckram.

This is important for professional baseball caps, of course, because the front of the cap is where the team logo is. It needs that support to stand tall and proud so the fielders will know they’re throwing in to their own players on the bases and not the runners. But that does mean the front of the cap is … kinda stiff. A little formal, maybe. Not relaxed.

And you know what those fielders are thinking to themselves as they’re standing out there in the sun? They’re thinking, “I’d be enjoying the game a lot more if I was watching it at home, on my couch, wearing my unstructured hat.”
That’s why teams have to pay them so much money — to convince them to leave their unstructured hats at home and go stand in the sun.

So does that mean an unstructured hat is kind of … floppy?

Well, yeah, if by “floppy” you mean it has less structure than one of those tall, stiff, caps. But that’s kind of the point. It’s casual and comfortable. Take a look at our line we call Dad Hats. They’re not trying to impress anybody or attract attention, like the front of those team caps, or worse, a seed cap. Those are the ones seed companies used to give away to get free advertising when the farmers would wear them riding into town on a wagonload of turnips.

OK, that part sounded really judgey. We take that back. We love farmers. Don’t care much for turnips, though.

Anyway, that’s the big difference between unstructured hats and structured ones. A structured cap is … kinda needy. It’s about the people who are seeing it, and what you want them to think about you or your team or your turnips. An unstructured cap is about you: who you are, and how comfortable you are just being you.

Now of course, if it’s a State Forty Eight structured cap, that’s not needy at all. That’s about you, too — you and your state pride. And that’s a whole different kind of attitude.

It’s also a different blog post.