The History of the Vintage Trucker Hat (Plus 10 Styling Tips!)
Did you know that the hat industry in the US is worth about four billion dollars?
One of the most popular styles of hats is the trucker hat. So popular in fact, that we're willing to bet that you probably have one in your house!
Trucker hats were invented for the Everyman. Unlike fashion brands of the time, trucker hats were for farmers. These blue-collar staples bear the names of feed or farm equipment brands.
Times have changed, but trucker hats have stayed the same. They're still made for the people who get dirt under their fingernails at work and love it this way. If you want to learn more about vintage trucker hats, keep reading!
What are Trucker Hats?
In the early 1970s, long into the age of marketing, these ballcap-like hats came onto the rural scene. They quickly became an icon of working-class America. A worn-out trucker hat is a testament to the hard work of a lifetime.
Later, the hats were worn by every were worn by everyone, but where did they start? Why do we associate them with working-class heroes?
Characterized by their foam fronts, mesh backs and snap closures, trucker hats were designed to be free. They were freebies from local businesses like gas stations and feed stores. They were also known as 'gimme hats' or 'feed hats' but the name 'trucker hat' stood the test of time.
The hats had low production costs and were perfect for advertising. After all, what better way is there to advertise than by giving it to people who traveled regularly?
Vintage trucker hats are some of the coolest fashion items out there. They often have ties to local history and will turn the heads of old-timers.
No matter which brand is on the hat, they became a standard for blue-collar workers everywhere. They were easy to get your hands on and protected your face and eyes from the harsh sun in the fields.
Aside from being freebies, the material made for a breathable hat. The mesh on the back made it easy for a breeze to reach the back of the head. Additionally, the foam front made them light, and the snap closure made them fit most heads.
The Difference Between Baseball Caps and Trucker Hats.
Baseball caps and trucker hats bear a striking resemblance to one another. Though they look similar, they have some key differences.
Baseball hats with logos have been around since 1901 and the style itself dates back to the 1890s. These hats were designed to keep the sun out of players' eyes. They were not widely acceptable 'out' attire until the 1950s.
A baseball hat was born out of necessity. Before the time of the ballcap, players could wear whatever brimmed hat they had on hand. As you can imagine, this lack of a standard led to innovation.
Baseball hats have a low crown, meaning that there is no room between the head of the wearer and the cap. They have five panels made of cloth with air holes on each panel. The material of a baseball cap was originally cotton, but time has given them more variety.
Trucker hats have a high crown. This means that the hat gives the wearer space between their head and the hat. This is specifically to accommodate designs.
Trucker hats also have a longer front panel. Again, this is to accommodate logos and text much better than a traditional ballcap. Additionally, to cut costs, they were made of polyester, foam and nylon.
Fundamentally, a trucker hat was designed with advertising in mind. This led to the small yet important differences. As logos on baseball caps were more of an afterthought, the design didn't account for the needed height.
Rise to Popularity
In the early 1970s, trucker hats were almost exclusively worn by truckers and farmers. They often had logos for John Deere or local feed stores. How is it that a short decade later they took the country by storm?
When we look at country musicians, a lot of them came from rural areas that would have had these free hats. In the late 1970s, the British invasion had died down. This made way on the airwaves for more country-influenced music than ever before.
Acts like ZZ Top and the Doobie Brothers brought an updated take on country music to the masses. Meanwhile, rural living was also getting its time in the limelight with 'Dukes of Hazzard'. It was only a matter of time before everyone was trying to get the rural look.
As we mentioned before, these were crazy cheap to produce. They made great merchandise for anyone, not just feed stores and gas stations. Eventually, the city folks would get their hands on the hats for their own advertising.
Given that the hats were cheap or free, it was only a matter of time before they were all the rage among teenagers. Trucker hats became a way for anyone who wanted to make merchandise to have it quite easily.
By the 1980s and 1990s, we saw all sorts of people on the silver screen wearing trucker hats. Even a kid from the suburbs of Chicago like Wayne from 'Wayne's World' had a trucker hat.
Why are Vintage Trucker Hats Still a Fashion Staple?
Trucker hats are still a staple in style. No matter where you look, when you go out you're likely to see a trucker hat.
The 20-year fashion cycle and 1980s nostalgia help to keep trucker hats in vogue. However, it's undeniable that trucker hats never went away for country folks. Even before 'Stranger Things' came about giving us a nostalgia trip, trucker hats were still prominent.
This all comes down to the fact that they're so easily produced that no one stopped making them. The two things that brought them to prominence are the very things that keep them thriving all these years later. They're easily made and perfect for designs.
Though the style has stayed the same, in recent years the quality of trucker hats has gone up. Most manufacturers today don't use foam in production much. The things that keep them true to the traditional trucker hats are still the same.
Trucker hats nowadays are characterized by the tall crown, the mesh back and the wide front. The area that got improved on was the material. New style trucker hats use higher quality materials.
It's easy to style an outfit around a classic like a trucker hat. No matter if you're trying out a 70s look or a contemporary style, the right trucker hat will stand out.
If you're looking for ideas, we'll teach you how to style a trucker hat
The 70s Inspired
A great way to style a trucker hat is with a 70s look! The 70s were characterized by neutrals with light wash boot-cut jeans. For a top, try going for a vintage feeling t-shirt.
On top of the shirt, a nice shearling or corduroy jacket would look great! As for shoes, the 70s loved cowboy boots!
Remember, 70s fashion was heavily inspired by rural life! Plaid shirts and a nice belt buckle will give you an air of the stars of the time.
The Rodeo Chic
When you go to a rodeo, they'll have rodeo hats available to buy. If you already have one, throw on your rodeo best and top it all off with your hat!
Daisy Dukes and a cropped plaid shirt go great with a trucker hat! As with the 70s look, make sure to wear your cowboy boots for the full effect!
The Marty McFly
80s looks are always a hit! For an 80s look, you'll need light-wash straight-cut jeans. For a top, try an oversized graphic sweatshirt.
If you're not the sweatshirt type, a light wash denim jacket over a plain white tee works great! For bonus 80s points, try rolling up the sleeves on your jacket!
For the final touches on this 80s look, go for white high-top sneakers and a backwards trucker hat.
The Insta Baddie
We've all seen the baddies on Instagram. What if I told you you could get their look? This look is definitely for the ladies!
For this style, you'll need some baggy joggers. Any color is fine, so long as the fit is loose on the legs!
For a top, try a crop top! Along with a pair of basketball shoes, the Y2K baddie look will start to come together. Finally, a trucker hat over beach waves will tie everything together!
The Frat Boy
Other notable yet unexpected wearers of trucker hats are frat boys. These guys wear brightly colored short-sleeved button-ups with their trucker hats!
For this look, you'll need a pastel button-up and a pair of brightly coloured shorts. For shoes, you'll need brown boat shoes. Finally, prop your sunglasses up on your trucker hat to complete the look!
The Music Festival
It doesn't matter what festival you're going to! A trucker hat will be both practical and stylish for the occasion!
Any festival look starts with a cute tank top! For bottoms, we recommend Daisy Dukes! Optionally, you can tie a plaid shirt around your waist. This way you'll have something to put on if it gets colder.
Finally, a comfortable pair of shoes and your trucker hat will top off the look.
The Girl Next Door
This is always a cute look! When you've got this on, you'll look ready to deliver an apple pie to the neighbors. For this look, you'll need a short sleeve shirt. White is ideal but it's not necessary.
The star of this show is going to be a pair of overalls! For shoes, we recommend a cute pair of high-top sneakers. Finally, a backwards trucker hat will give you an adorable tomboy look!
The Old Timer
This is another look for the fellas. It's inspired by the old-timers you see outside the gas station that love to tell stories. Consider this a love letter to them!
For this outfit, you'll need a plaid shirt tucked into a pair of jeans. Also, consider a bold belt buckle!
For this outfit, try wearing your oldest trucker hat. As we've mentioned, a worn-out trucker hat is a testament to a life well-lived. In order to do the look justice, the more beat up the hat the better!
As for shoes, work boots or cowboy boots are always winners!
We all work hard! We're entitled to low-effort days. Trucker hats can give you a casual look that will be comfortable and classic.
This look is for both the ladies and the fellas! For this look, you'll need your comfiest pair of pants. These don't have to be any particular style, but leggings or sweatpants work great!
For a top, try going for a hoodie or a sweatshirt. This look is all about comfort, so whichever one of your hoodies is the softest, go for it! A backwards trucker hat will close the look off nicely.
This look is perfect for mowing the lawn or just relaxing with a couple of beers in a koozie on the patio. It's a perfect go-to look for anyone looking to have the vibes of a middle-aged dad livin' the dream.
This look is simple and effective. You'll need a graphic tee, a light-wash pair of jeans and a set of white sneakers. Your trucker hat should be in the optimal position to shield your eyes from the sun.
This look will have all your friends saying "workin' hard or hardly workin'?" and you'll be able to share a laugh.
Get Your Hands On a Trucker Hat Today
Vintage trucker hats have a rich history in the American working class. That history continues to grow and flourish with every year. Each decade, Americans find new ways to style these hats.
When you wear a trucker hat, you're wearing the history of working-class heroes and farmers. Be proud of your hat and the rich history it represents. Next time you wear a trucker hat, remember that it's a symbol of the American Dream, not just a hat.
If you want to get your hands on this symbol of working-class triumph, click here!