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Ciao baby: Hats off to Americana

A long time ago, the baseball cap must have been just that: headwear in which to play a bat-and-ball game. And so it would have remained, had the baseball cap not come to be seen as a symbol of Mom, apple pie and, goldarnit, the American Way of Life. With the most powerful economy in the world aiming to put a baseball cap on the head of every man, woman and child, the cap has been sold to the globe as an American "classic", supposedly as seductive and essential a part of your wardrobe as blue jeans. It was even trendy, for a while; the more obscure the logo, the better.

The baseball cap is now as ubiquitous as that other piece of watered- down Americana, the T-shirt. You'll find it adorning the crowns of sloaney girls as a perfect accompaniment to their boyfriend's rugby shirt, and pulled low over the brows of hard-core hip-hop fans ... and William Hague.

Worse still, there are few contenders who look able to break the baseball cap's millinery monopoly. The floppy cricket hat has occasionally attempted an assault on the peak, but nothing short of government legislation is going to halt its spread.