La Casquette, the humble cycling cap, a simple invention designed to serve a practical purpose. For years cycling caps provided a bit of cool in the summer, and a degree of warmth in winter.
Their peaks protected a rider’s eyes from the sun and rain, and turned around they protected vulnerable necks against sun-burn.
Casquettes still serve today, when most cyclists wear helmets. They can provide an extra layer of warmth, and turned to the front their peaks help in wet weather, but more than anything the cycling cap is a fashion item now, a badge saying I am a cyclist, part of the pedalling bother and sisterhood.
The big question is, how should they be worn as such?
In the old days it was simple. Barry Hoban was a pro in the 1960s and ‘70s when caps were a practical piece of kit.
“Most of us wore them back to front with the peak down. They were more aerodynamic that way. You wore them the other way, again with the peak down, to keep the sun out of your eyes, or the rain sometimes,” says Hoban.
“Rarely, and my teammate Raymond Poulidor was the worst offender, riders raced with the peak turned up. In my opinion that made them look like jockeys.”
We think, and you may have your own views on this, that ‘studied indifference’ is the watchword when wearing a cycling cap as a fashion item today.
In practical terms that means when standing upright and looking straight ahead, the base of the cap should be angled ever so slightly lower down at the back back, so that when the peak is down you can see it but still see ahead, just.
The cap should be place firmly on the head, but with a gap between its top and your scalp. This needs practice. Too much of a gap and the cap starts looking like a chef’s hat.
It’s the same with the peak, pulled down too far over the eyes and looks too military. You will also tend to bump into things.
Look at pictures of Miguel Indurain, one of the best cap wearers ever. Or almost any Italian pro from the 1960s to the 1980s. Let them be your style guides.
The big ‘no no’ is a cap angled too far back on the head, with the peak turned up. It’s just not cool, not pro.
It’s too jaunty, á la Norman Wisdom (look him up, he was big in British entertainment during the 1950s and ‘60s), and jaunty is the antithesis of cool.
Of course this has all been written in fun, it’s your cap so wear it how you like. The big thing is, it says you are part of the ‘hood’, a cyclist through and through. Compared to that style does not matter at all.