Military designs are consistently found in everyday fashion, it may be in the form of a subtle epellete or a vibrant camouflage pattern, but the designs keep remerging. A centerpiece of military inspired clothing and an item that has been featured and reworked by hundreds of labels and designers for over 65 years, is the Classic Military Patrol Cap.
The patrol cap, although a basic design that generally has a stiff visor and rigid flat top, looks very much like a baseball cap except that it does not hug the curvature of a person’s head. The cap that has made its way onto the fashion scene today is a deviation on the U.S. Army & U.S. Air Force’s Patrol Cap design.
U.S. Army ACU Version & U.S. Air Force ABU Verson
The modern caps above were originally adopted roughly around the Korean War and designated M-1951 Field Caps. The M-1951 Field Cap was a redesign on its predecessor the M-1943 Field Cap, which was adopted during WWII with the U.S. Army’s M-1943 Uniform Set. Below you can see the subtles differences between the two. The major update with the M-1951 version was a longer visor and a darker color.
WWII’s M-1943 Field Cap & The Korean War’s M-1951 Field Cap
The M-1943 Field Cap worn in WWII & the M-1951 Field Cap worn in the Korean War.
During the Korean War it gained its “Patrol Cap” and “Ranger Cap” nicknames, coined by American Soldiers on the Korean Peninsula. After the Korean War the M-1951 Field Cap was replaced by the “Ridgeway Cap” which was a stiffed version of the M-1951 Field Cap, which was made famous by Fidel Castro.
There was a gap in the Field Cap’s usage in the American Military due to the Vietnam War where it was replaced by a baseball hot weather type of cap and boonie hats. Like most military designs, it made its way back to the troops through the U.S. Army’s new M81 Battle Dress Uniform, famously known as BDUs. The Cap would go through various camouflage patterns, from Woodland to desert types and then eventually the digitalized Army Combat Uniform pattern in 2004.
Within Fashion, the cap has seen the addition of straps, buttons and snaps added to the design. The attractiveness of the Patrol Cap design is its simplicity. It is not quite a baseball cap, but it is uniquely military in its appearance. Many designers and fashion labels also add their own graphic designs to the caps and this allows a certain amount of customization. The original 1943 design is clearly apparent in these designs below.