Chic Caps

Randy Grider
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A few months ago, a co-worker came into my office looking for a trucker cap for her daughter. “You mean a hat with a truck on it?” I asked.

“No,” she said. “Just a cap like truckers wear. You know, one of those baseball style caps with the little holes in the back.”

I found a couple laying around my office for her perusal. “Got one that doesn’t have the name of the magazine on it?” she asked.

My curiosity finally got the best of me. “Why is your kid looking for a trucker cap?” I inquired.

“All the kids are wearing them,” she said. “They’re back in style.”

I wanted to ask, “When did they go out of style?” But that would make me appear to be “uncool” and out of touch, so I said nothing. The co-worker left my office heading to another part of the building to look for a cap with a cooler logo on it.

I thought no more about trucker caps being labeled as vogue until I saw a segment on television a few weeks later. The fashion reporter defined the trucker hat as a tall baseball cap with a mesh back and a front made with foam. The most popular are caps with corporate logos like John Deere, Caterpillar (CAT) and others. Others include the famous silhouette of a girl you most often see on truckers’ mud flaps. I’ve heard that caps with John Deere logos are bringing as much as $50 on eBay.

There’s a “gold mine” buried somewhere in cardboard boxes at my late mother’s house, I thought to myself. My mom saved all of my dad’s caps. He must have had hundreds.

A few years ago, I found a couple of boxes of them and brought a few home. My favorite is a black hat with a Playboy bunny on it pushing a plow. My dad bought it at a truckstop and wore it often because it had his CB handle on it – “Plowboy.”

After doing a little more research, I’ve discovered that trucker caps started gaining new respect a couple of years ago and really took off this past spring. Everyone from skateboarders to teen pop stars has been seen sporting trucker caps when they’re out and about. Britney Spears, Enrique Iglesias and Justin Timberlake have all been photographed wearing the latest fad. So have older celebrities like Cameron Diaz and George Clooney. In fact, Clooney may have set the standard when he sported a Deere cap in the 2000 movie, “The Perfect Storm.”

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Like many truckers, I wear caps quite a bit. Because of the mesh backs, caps are cool (the practical definition of the word) when you’re working. They also keep your hair corralled when you don’t have time to come in contact with a comb or brush.

I kind of wish I had known that I was being stylish during the past year or so because it happens so rarely. Actually, many of you are probably like me; style means it fits relatively well and your spouse or significant other has no qualms with going out in public with you.

Still, before we get too excited about being with the “in crowd,” take note of one other piece of research I’ve discovered. Trucker caps, while still being very popular with the mainstream, are no longer on the cutting edge, according to one recently printed story I found.

The article points out that retail store Hot Topic, which specializes in teen fashion from gothic to punk rock, has seen a 50 percent jump in sales of trucker caps in recent months, and sales through the holidays are expected to do well. But the piece also points out that, “Some things in today’s fashion world seem to be already out of style by the time the majority even knows about it. The trucker caps seemed to have at least peaked in popularity.”

Well, that’s OK. All of us who wear truckers caps as a regular part of our wardrobe can take comfort in the fact that we were “in” for a few months, even though we weren’t informed when it started.

Soon, we’ll be uncool again, but few of us will change. Why should we? Trucker caps are comfortable and functional. And a few years down the road, they’ll again be chic and we’ll already be there.