One of the most famous hats that came from France is called a French Beret. It is an ancestral tradition symbol and is shaped like a buckwheat pancake. At the top, you’ll see a small tail in the middle.
Where do you usually see berets? You might have seen it worn by celebrities and influencers. You might have seen it during fashion week. There are chances when you might have seen it on the streets while taking a stroll. Where ever you might have seen it, berets have become one of the most famous fashion hats in the world.
What is a French Beret? Shaped like a buckwheat pancake, French Berets are known to be a symbol of an ancestral tradition. It has a small tail at the middle top and is usually made with sheep wool that is refined to have a felt-like finish. It originated in south-east France in the agriculture community. Soon, it swept Paris and the fashion industry by storm.
But did you know, there are a lot of interesting things that are attached to this hat? Here are some secrets that this hat holds.
Berets born from the Shepherds
In the 17th century, shepherds in the Béarn, Basque, and French Pyrenees regions, were the first ones who popularize this headgear. After the shepherds have observed that the wools of the sheep kept the animals warm, they decided to try it themselves. They took some of the wool and stuffed it in their shoes. As a result, it kept their feet warm. Because of the pressure from stepping on the wool all day, plus the humidity of the moisture from the ground and the sweat from the feet, the fibers stuck together. This generated the process of compression which is used in making felt. Unfortunately, their method was not used in hat making. Would you want to wear a hat from the felt that came out of the shoes of someone? That is why fashion connoisseurs took over to relieve us of the unwelcomed smell.
Artist and berets
After the shepherds, berets were adopted by Parisian artists of the Left Bank before making their way to the fashion scene. From the mid-1800s to the 1900s, this hat became a fashion staple among famous artists like Picasso, Monet, Marie Laurencin, Cezanne, and others. Some people claim that many artists during that time wore berets because they wanted to follow the style of the masters during the renascence. But others say that artists were poor in that era. That they needed something to keep their heads warm thus wearing berets.
Berets in the Military
The Chasseurs Alpins is a top mountain infantry of the French army. As part of their uniforms which they flaunt proudly since 1889 is a floppy French beret. Why were berets incorporated in military uniforms beginning in World War II? A British general thought that the French berets could be the answer to their problem. It is a usual problem for soldiers climbing down the tank’s hatchet would knock off their hats. After the introduction of berets, it does not happen anymore.
Statement Fashion Icon
From the shepherds to the military, you’ve probably figured out that berets were first worn by men. It’s in the early 1800s, did women start wearing it. The queen of fashion, Coco Chanel, once again did her magic and transformed an initially men’s accessory and tailored it for a woman’s taste. Many famous female movie stars at that time started flaunting their berets. Thus, it remains an iconic women’s accessory.
There is no standard way of using a beret that is why there is an unlimited possibility of styling it. Older gentlemen would usually wear it squared on their heads. But there are endless ways for fashionistas to wear it. Furthermore, it’s not an accessory to add details to your style. It’s also functional because of its water-resistant and ultraviolet-resistant features.
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How do you properly wear a beret?
The best way of wearing a beret is placing the rim half an inch to an inch off the ears and ¾ inch up your forehead. The back should go down the back of your neck but still fit comfortably.
As mentioned earlier, there are endless ways on how to wear a beret. While it’s not the usual go-to winter hat, it’s a statement piece that adds flair to the entire vibe of the outfit. Have you ever tried wearing a beret? If you’re not sure how to wear one, here are some of the ways that you can do it.
Step 1: Place the beret atop of your head at about ¾ up your forehead and an inch or two behind the ears.
Step 2: Tuck the edge of the hat under to secure it in place. After, pull the fabric on top of the edge out to add a bit of volume.
Step 3: Pull one side of the beret down. Make sure that the one you pull is from the crease that gives the shape of your hat. This step may take a bit of trial and error to find what is best. But you can pull the hat from either the left or the right side until it covers near the top of your rears. To add a bit of drama, try moving the tilt forward going to your eyebrow. If you want to look more laid back and casual, pull it back to one side.
Smacked on the Top
Step 1: Place the beret atop your head with the brim sitting an inch above the eyebrows. If you have a larger forehead, you can put it higher. You can play around to see which is the most flattering for you.
Step 2: Tuck the edge in under the beret. Another option is to leave it as is making it look like a soufflé.
Step 3: Tug the top of the hat gently. You can pull the little know at the top to add volume. Pull the hat a few times to add some puff and smooth down the areas that look too puffy. If you want to add a bit of tilt, pull the edge and create a look that is between a classic tilt and this one.
A shift towards the back
Step 1: Place the front lining of the beret past your hairline. As for the back edge, place it as close to the nape of your neck as possible. If you have thicker hair or a bigger head, you might need to go higher.
Step 2: Truck the edge of the beret under to secure it properly.
Step 3: Grab a mirror and look at how it looks at the back. If you cannot see it with one mirror, use another to get a clearer view. If you want to add a bit more volume, tug the center upwards. Another option is to lay it flat to achieve a more circular look. To avoid slipping, secure your beret with bobby pins.
Additional Style Tips:
- Keep your makeup natural. Adding a bright red lipstick with a Persian beret is too cliché. Keep your look simple with a soft blush, some light eye shadow, a swipe of mascara.
- Skip the stripes. If you’re planning to look like a mime, maybe you can go and pair your beret with a stipe shirt. Just go with something floral or any solid color.
- Mix and match fabrics. You don’t need to always pair your beret with wool. Faux leather can bring out a tough and edgy vibe with a beret. Try different patterns and fabrics until you find what works and what does not.
- Secure your beret with hair clips. If you’re trying to secure your beret in place with bobby pins, unless it matches your hair and beret itself, it will stand out. So, why do you go all out and wear an eye-catching hair clip? Use a bold barrette to secure the hat in place. Better yet, look for hair clips adorned with pearls or acrylic blooms.
How do I get my beret to stay in shape?
To shape a beret, dunk it in warm water. Don’t use hot water since it can cause wool to shrink. Once it is damp and pliable, place the beret on top of your head and adjust for a proper fitting.
If you’ve seen how snug-fitting military berets are, it’s because they have a procedure to make them fit. Contrary to what is worn as a fashion piece, military berets are more tedious to take care of.
What are Military Berets?
Military berets are those that are made usually of felt and are flat on the top. They are sometimes worn as part of the law enforcement and military uniforms. Military Berets are folded and shaped differently from those worn by civilians.
Military berets cannot be worn immediately after buying. It needs to be shaved and shaped to fit the military image. There are several steps in shaping a beret. If this is your first time, seek the help of an experienced professional.
How to shave and shape a Military Beret properly?
The methods that will be discussed are some of the most common and easiest ways to shave and shape a military beret. It can take one to two days to complete the entire procedure. You’ll need to take some time to let the hat dry after shaping. One thing that you need to make sure of before undergoing the process is making sure that you have the right size. Remember that the material can stretch once you dunk it in water.
If the beret you have comes with a liner, remove it by cutting it out. Not all berets come with liners so take it out before starting. Lastly, don’t forget the razor and warm water.
Shaving the Beret
Start by using a disposable razor and shave starting from the center towards the outer edge. Make sure that you’re shaving in a circular motion until you get a smooth surface. If you want to try, you can use a cigarette lighter to burn some of the fuzzy material. Make sure that you don’t shave a certain spot many times. This can thin the material out and can create holes.
Flip the beret inside out and shave the inner part as well. By this time, the razor can become dull so you might need to change. It is more dangerous to use a dull blade since it can accidentally cut the material.
Cut and Fit the Beret
Cut the tag below the beret size lettering. You’ll know that you did it right when you put your beret on and the tag does not show even if you flip it over. After, pull the drawstring tight in the headband and tie it in a square knot.
Shaping the Beret
To shape, dunk the beret in warm water. Never use hot water or else it will shrink the wool. Once it’s damp and bendable place it on your head. If it is dripping, wring it out a bit. Then, adjust the beret to get a proper fit.
Adjust the cardboard stiffener and center it over the left eye. Then flatten the material over your head. Fold the excess material to the forward right side of your head. Then, tug it down towards your right ear. It should slightly reach your ear or below it.
Wear the beret for a while until it begins to dry to keep it in shape. Then carefully remove it and set it aside to completely dry. You might probably need to shape it a few times until you get the perfect shape. Once you’re satisfied with the look, cut the excess drawstring and sew it.
Tips in getting the best-looking beret shape:
- Usually, many head sizes don’t fit the military-issued beret. You may need to get one commercially instead.
- Make sure that you shave the inside of the beret unless you’re okay with pulling out fuzzy materials off your hair.
- If your beret is fairly big, shrink it by soaking it in hot water.