I’ve got a red beret that I’ve had for about 12 years. I think I bought it from Accessorize on a whim, thinking that it might make me look cool and sultry. It didn’t, but I wore that beret with all the fearlessness and lack of self awareness that only comes with youth. I found it the other day, while clearing out my wardrobe and I wore it to the shop. It felt great – like I’d added a stylish flourish to my outfit and hadn’t even tried. I was one of those cool types who accessorises! Maybe people thought I was French! And then I met my friends at the pub and one of them asked why I was wearing fancy dress. That was that.
However, what my friend doesn’t know is that berets are, as it goes, big news. They’ve been quietly occupying the heads of many Insta-famous women for a while now but, when Chanel and then Dior started showing versions in sequins and black leather, it was clear that beanies were out, berets in. The question is, how to wear one without looking (and feeling) like a complete wally? Despite my friend’s opinion, I’m here to tell you that it can be done.
Berets have, of course, enjoyed a rich history long before their Instagram fame. For example, in the 1960s they became a symbol of revolution when adopted by Che Guevara and Fidel Castro, before becoming the uniform of the Black Panther Party in the 1970s. When Beyoncé paid homage to the Black Panthers during her half-time show at last year’s Super Bowl, every one of her dancers wore a black beret atop their heads as a defiant symbol of activism. In other words, it’s a powerful hat. And, in actual fact, it’s far more flattering than a lot others out there – I’m looking at you, bobble hats.
Wear them with jeans, T-shirts and your favourite coat – the more casual, the better. And certainly avoid Breton tops and strings of garlic, (or otherwise risk the fancy dress association). You want it to sit at the back of your head but over your ears – experiment with a jaunty angle at your peril (I’m speaking from experience). And beware matching lipstick or over-eager selfies – it all feels a bit contrived. But if in doubt, just tell everyone you’re channeling the spirit of revolution. They can’t argue with that.
Five of the best berets