Would you wear a hat that originated in the 17th century worn by peasants in southern France? How about a hat worn by revolutionary activists or military forces across the globe? If your answer is yes to any or all the above, you are clearly a fashionista with an eye for style!
The quintessentially French chapeau known as the beret has had quite the life and is still at the "head" of its style game today! It has crossed the boundaries of countries, class and culture and yet remains much the same as it's always been - a flat round disk, usually made of wool felt. It is the true epitome of "simple is best" having stood the test of time and rarely accused of being "old hat"!
the many beret benefits!
The brimless aspect of the beret may explain its strong hold as a hat to be reckoned with! Negotiating a brim especially a floppy one can be tiresome, particularly if it compromises the line of vision. Then it's not only tiresome, but possibly lethal! The lack of brim made the beret a desirable hat for various military forces across the world. Among the many, the British Royal Tank Regiment adopted it on account of its compact style, allowing access in and out of small tank hatches a breeze! Talking of breezes, here the beret certainly has the upper hand!
It's light in weight making it comfortable to wear and despite its jaunty character, it's not too showy, so even those who feel ridiculous in a hat may find this their inconspicuous hat bestie!
The beret grips on around its edge with less pressure over the rest of the head. This eliminates a good portion of the dreaded hat hair syndrome caused by most snug fitting hats. Yes, this is why people continue to wear a beanie despite having arrived at their destination!
From jeans to dresses, the beret is an all-rounder, literally! It looks as good with a casual ensemble as it does a smart suit or chic dress. Although berets were sported by women as early as the 1800's, it's thanks to Coco Chanel in the 1930's who deftly adapted men's clothing to women's fashion that spurred the berets popularity into the forefront of chic haute couture.
It's the little hat that thinks it's a big hat! Little in stature, big on style, it adds a cheeky "je ne sais quoi" to any outfit.
how to wear a beret
There are rules on where specific hats should be placed about the head and they're generally the sort of fashion rules that should not be broken to avoid looking foolish. The beret however is much more flexible.
It's often worn slightly askew, lower on one side of the head covering one ear more than the other. This gives the beret a chic look, a great way to style a sharper outfit. Add even more elegance by tying the hair back in a low ponytail or messy chignon. The result is très chic!
For a bohemian vibe, wear it straight on and perched slightly to the back of the head. This looks particularly cute when you have a fringe (bangs). Let the hair flow freely at the sides and back. Vary this look by pulling the beret more towards the front, so the rim frames your face.
Wear the beret with jeans and a leather jacket, jeans and a blazer or skip the jacket altogether and just top off a cosy sweater.
Wear it with a dress or skirt, add some sharp cat-eye sunglasses and you'll have a sassy sexy look.
Unless you want to look like "Onion Johnnie", the nickname given to the stereotypical Frenchman of the 1800's wearing a beret on his bicycle selling onions strewn over the handlebars, I would avoid wearing the beret with a Breton top or other horizontal striped shirt. It would however be a great fancy dress costume, perhaps replacing the onions with a large baguette and a bottle of wine!
Also, steer clear of billowing white frocks, although another great costume idea, they tend to conjure up images of Pablo Picasso and Monet!
Shop your beret below from my favorite picks -
and let's hat up ladies, don our berets and order a café au lait, or better still un verre du vin!
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Karen Serino is a life and style blogger, sharing fashion, fitness and fun for youthful women in their forties, fifties and beyond.
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Click the picture below to see my interview with the lovely Jonet Wooten from Fabulously Chic Over 50