For centuries, hats have served as a means to cover the wearers against the elements. Besides their practical function, hats are also important accessories that allow wearers to express their individuality and showcase their personal style. Some hats accompany certain occupations, like the hat or helmet worn by a fireman. Others indicate the wearer’s preference for a particular way of life or a certain region of the world, such as the American cowboy hat or the Scottish tam. One type of hat that is both popular and versatile is the beret. A beret is a light, comfortable hat that many men enjoy wearing. This guide provides buyers with some information about men’s berets, including their origins, how to wear them, and what to look for when shopping for the right beret. It also suggests a few places where buyers can obtain a beret, including local shops and websites, like eBay.
About the Beret
A beret is a rounded hat without a brim. It is typically soft and flexible, and usually includes a small piece of material in the centre, known as the wick. Many berets are made of felted wool or some other wool blend. Berets do not usually have a brim, although a modern style called the newsboy beret incorporates a short, narrow brim that is positioned above the wearer’s forehead.
History of the Beret
The beret has been in existence for hundreds of years. The modern beret is thought to have originated in France, in the Basque region. During the 1800s, the original beret was altered to include a leatherette band that allowed for a closer fit around the owner’s head. The 1950s saw a rise in the beret’s popularity amongst the members of the Bohemian French lifestyle. Writers, artists, and free-thinkers wore it to represent their breaking away from mainstream culture. Since then, the beret has been a recurring trend in fashionable headgear, including both men’s and women’s versions of the style.
Throughout the decades, berets have been closely tied with military groups and activities. During the 1880s, a branch of the French Army, called the Chasseurs Alpins, wore berets. Before that, forces involved in Spain’s Carlist Wars incorporated the beret into their uniforms. In 1918, some British special forces wore a unique version of the beret. In the United States, the Green Berets are a well-known elite unit, recognised for the colour and style of their headgear. Other armies and military groups worldwide use berets of various colours.
Since the wool or other material of which they are made can be dyed, berets come in many different colours. Black, grey, and shades of brown are generally the most popular amongst men, since they coordinate well with the other colours of the wearer’s wardrobe.
As previously mentioned, most berets are made of wool, many from merino or fine pure wool. Felted wool is very dense and generally provides significant water resistance, keeping the wearer’s head mostly dry in a rain shower. Some berets are designed to be completely waterproof, which also means that they are typically more expensive as well as more effective. Waterproof berets are treated with special chemicals to ensure impermeability.
Occasionally, however, berets are made out of cotton. These cotton berets are more suitable for warm spring and summer days. Since they are less dense, they are generally not waterproof or even water resistant. However, they are lighter and more breathable than woollen berets.
The term "flight" refers to the extra fold of material that contributes to the loose fit of the beret. The chart below illustrates some of the differences in flight between berets.
around 25 cm
around 27.5 cm to 31 cm
around 37 cm
Berets with the largest amount of flight have a significant flap of extra material. Buyers interested in one of these large berets should know how to work with the material and understand where and when such a hat would be appropriate. Smaller berets are more common, since they are easy to wear and fit in well with the average man’s wardrobe.
The typical beret with small to medium flight is appropriate for many situations. Some men may simply want a plain woollen beret that they can stuff into a large pocket or bag and pull out if they need some protection from the weather. Others may consider their beret to be part of their outfit, a style statement rather than a practical piece. These buyers will likely want a few different berets, possibly in some unique colours or with some special design elements. Before selecting a beret, buyers should think about the occasions or activities for which they plan to wear it, so that they can be sure to purchase a hat that will fit their personal style and needs.
Berets may be unlined, or they may be lined in a soft, comfortable material, like satin. Berets without a lining can sometimes offer better air flow and breathability. However, a lined beret typically provides more warmth to the wearer. The lining helps hold the wearer’s natural heat close to their head and serves as a double layer to block out wind and cold. A lining may also help to keep the beret more shapely.
How to Wear a Beret
Wearing a beret can be complicated, especially if the beret has some type of military or political significance. Wearers will usually know if their particular beret requires any special positioning.
Berets can be put on straight and worn with the edge evenly positioned. However, much of the charm of this piece of headgear lies in its versatility. Most wearers like to create interest with the beret, setting it off centre at a slight tilt or bold angle.
Military berets are intended to be worn only by certain individuals with the correct rank and qualifications. Buyers should be careful to research and follow all rules and requirements regarding the correct use and positioning of a military beret. Respecting the regulations for military berets is a way of honouring the servicemen and women and the special forces personnel who proudly wear those items.
Caring for a Woollen Beret
Since berets are made of wool, they can develop small pieces of fuzz that eventually affect the appearance of the hat. These can be removed using a disposable razor or similar blade. Some recommend the use of a cigarette lighter to remove any wool fibres that have worked loose. The fibres should be burnt off with great care so that the hat is not damaged. If the hat becomes too loose, soaking it in warm water can help wearers to achieve a better fit.
Buying a Beret on eBay
While some brick and mortar clothing and accessories shops in your area may sell berets, you will find a wider selection online from websites like eBay. To search on eBay, simply enter "men’s beret" into the search bar. You will see a number of listings, including a variety of colours, sizes, and brands. If you have a preferred brand, you can select that brand and eBay will filter your search results accordingly. If you would like to be notified whenever sellers post new berets on eBay, save your search and eBay will send you all applicable notifications to help you get the best deals.
Many eBay listings include a special Top Rated seller seal. A Top Rated seller seal indicates that the seller of that item has received excellent feedback scores from previous customers. Usually, a Top Rated seller will provide you with professional service and a satisfactory product. Many of them also supply free shipping, bundles, package deals, or return policies. If you need to ask an eBay seller a question, visit the seller’s profile page and click Contact Member, or click the Ask a Question link within the item listing.
If you do not need to see any auction-style listings, you may want to conduct your search in the eBay Shops section of the website. Here, you can enter the term "men’s beret" into the search bar, and eBay will provide you with a list of the online eBay shops that carry berets for men.
Hats offer their wearers some insulation and protection against the weather, including hot sun, bitter cold, wind, rain, sleet, fog, and snow. While there are hundreds, perhaps thousands, of different hat styles throughout the world, many men prefer the beret. Some like the beret because of its rich history, while others like its simple, fashionable style. Others appreciate the lightweight comfort that it provides. When shopping for a beret, buyers should remember to choose a comfortable size that fits their head just right, without being too loose or too tight. They will need to select a colour that suits their personality and coordinates well with their wardrobe. The material of the beret should be durable and water resistant so that it can provide some protection in case of rain. If buyers keep all these factors in mind, they should be able to find a high-quality, affordable beret that will meet their needs.