The Muir cap, otherwise known as a Sir’s hat or Master’s hat, is a common accessory in the leather community, worn as part of many formal leather uniforms. An individual wears the cap to signify to others their social position as a Sir. Receiving the cap is considered to be a milestone in the community.
The Muir cap is named after the Muir Cap Company, which produced the cap for military uniforms of German officers during World War II. In the 1950s, it entered into popular culture by way of Hollywood, being worn by actors such as Marlon Brando in The Wild One (1953), and James Dean in Rebel Without a Cause (1955). Both Brando and Dean played motorcycle-riding protagonists.
In the late 1950s, the Muir cap began to feature in the paintings and drawings of Finnish artist, Touko Valio Laaksonen (Tom of Finland), typically worn by subjects clad in leather motorcycle or military uniforms. Laaksonen’s artworks gained mainstream LGBT appeal in the 1970s and helped to popularize the cap in the leather community.
Traditions and Procedures
In the leather community, there are typically many formalities surrounding the owning and wearing of the cap. The foremost tradition is that the cap is handed down from one Sir to another, continuing the legacy of the cap and its previous owner(s). Although it is frowned upon to purchase the cap, it is readily available to purchase at many leather stores and events such as International Mister Leather (IML) and Mid-Atlantic Leather (MAL). Currently the original Muir Cap is manufactured and can be purchased in Scarborough, Ontario Canada.
As a rule in the United States, the brim of the cap is never to be touched, to avoid fingerprints and smudges on the finish of the brim. In order to place the cap on properly, or to adjust the cap, the wearer must lift it by the sides, making sure the brim sits just above the eyebrow ridge. It is also deemed incorrect to touch another person’s Muir cap without their permission, as it is with other leather articles.