beretsFrench men wear berets. They wear other headgear, too, but berets are right up there. Red or black. Some great, big ones, in the Basque style. Worn completely, whole-heartedly straight-faced, mostly by older men. They are not trying to pull off a look. They are not being ironic or kitsch or retro. They are just putting something on their heads because they always have done that when they go out, especially in winter, and the thing they have in the closet is a beret. Because they are French.

I love it.

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He not only coordinated his scarf and pants, but his wife also is wearing a red scarf. Too cute!

In an era of H&M and Zara and Levis and everybody around the world wearing the same things, it is great to have a few people who wear some tradition item just because they like it, or because they’ve always done it (tradition), and not because it’s some kind of costume.

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The main alternative to the beret: a cap. This one with leather details.
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Almost like a képi, and no it wasn’t a baseball cap.

That said, the styles of hats seems to have proliferated lately. Another very popular version–even more popular than the beret–is the closely related newsboy/golfer/driving cap, which looks a lot like a beret that is pulled forward, but unlike a beret, which is shaped like a crêpe and can be pulled or puffed to different looks, the cap actually has a defined shape: it rises straight up from the back of the head, then slopes down to the forehead. It may or may not include a bill.

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Another cap. And another scarf. Love how he tied it.
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A brim AND a cap! And bare-headed women.

I saw many versions of these, from plain to plaid to striped in many directions. That one made me think of the dazzle ships of World War I, or why zebras have stripes.

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Just like the dazzle ships!

Other men opted for felt hats with brims. Smaller trilby styles to broader-brimmed fedoras. What I didn’t see many of? Baseball caps. At least not in winter.

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All leather, with contrasting braid. Very Indiana Jones.

IMG_0986IMG_0972IMG_0836French women also strutted an array of headgear.

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The very flattering crown of (fake?) fur. Warm for the ears. And her husband has the de rigueur cap.
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A turban and a beret with a flower on the side. I can bet you she isn’t wearing that beret to look like a French girl.

IMG_0830Do you wear hats? Which style? I admit to having two berets, but I don’t wear them as much as I used to. Both black, bought in France. They are easy to slip into my bag in case I get cold and can be pulled down over my ears if necessary. Plus they don’t smash or electrify my hair the way a knit cap (called a bonnet) does.IMG_0829For more about French chapeaux, check out FranceSays.

32 thoughts on “Berets Without Irony

  1. Love hats and I wear them!! Have close to 50 at this point- many that you’re showing, right down to the fur (mine’s rabbit) and wide brimmed leather hat. I so enjoy seeing men and women in stylish hats. Takes me back to another era.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I love hats! I have a collection that belonged to my mother-in-law which includes a baret from the 70s, and several that are caps and wreath shapes with veils (40s – 50s). My first memory of hats were my grandfather’s fedoras (early 50s). I was sorry to see hat wearing disappear here in the states. Me? Yes, I do wear them. Most are large brimmed straw hats, and one 30s style felt cloche hat… a gift from a little student years back. How did she know?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Good for you!! I’m seeing more hats these days. Love the old ones. I have my father’s fedora. I just changed out the band for a more feminine blue silk. Don’t have any of my mother’s. But I SO remember wearing them (her and we six girls) for church every Sunday. An elderly fellow at church recently, leaned in and said- ‘A hat on a woman is the frosting on the cake!’

      Liked by 2 people

  3. I am a self confessed hat lover, especially if they are vintage.

    I have photos of myself wearing hats from a young age throughout the years. I’ve never understood why so many people are afraid to wear them.

    My French husband has acquired that North American taste for baseball hats, ugh. Although he also has a collection of vintage hats he wears his baseball caps more often.

    Suzanne
    http://www.suzannecarillo.com

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I love berets, they look so stylish. I have two, a red and a black one which were purchased for me on one of my first trips to France. I was lucky enough to be “adopted” by the parents of one of my French teachers and every summer they invited me to spend time with them at one or all of their 4 houses in France. One summer while visiting them in St. Jean de Luz, Claude took me to town to try on berets, and he gave me a red and a black one. He loved taking me and anyone else visiting the house to the beach, hiking in the Pyrenees and telling us about the local history and food. Sadly he has passed but I am still blessed to spend time with his wife in Paris, and Senlis whenever I visit Paris. Thank you for bringing back so many happy memories with this post.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I own a beret but rarely wear it. It is handmade, mustard yellow felt with turquoise embroidery. I have a skirt which matches it perfectly but still somehow rarely have the right opportunity to wear them as an outfit. My husband has taken to flat caps in a big way, which surprises us both, since his regular look is Aging Rocknroller.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Thanks for the shout out! I do really like the flat Kangol-style caps with a brim, especially as I like to keep the sun out of my eyes. But to honour tradition, and both of our blogs, I vow to get myself a beret and wear it with pride!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Some of us can wear anything and look great in it, while on others, it looks like a costume. Part of it is owning the look, being comfortable in it, and part of it is not being clothed from head to toe in something trendy. I’ve seen women of a certain age wear wide brimmed hats on the back of their head and look great, but for the most part… Coachella’s not their look. I love men who wear scarves and hats and berets.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Wow, you struck a nerve with this one. I, too, am a hat person. Given my druthers, I’d wear them all the time and am particularly fond of brimmed straw hats for summer.
    My father wore a beret in later life. Whether it was his own idea or something he remembered from being in France in the war years I don’t know. And my grandfather, aging and cranky and bald as a billiard ball, wore hats against the Florida sun. A Florida-based brother wears Australian bush-type hats as sun shields.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The Carnivore was bluntly opposed to hats, but the hairline recession caused a conversion. I see plenty of those Australian hats around here, on people protecting themselves from the sun in summer.

      Like

  9. Hats rule!! I have many, and in daylight hours always have one on. Yes it does mess you hair when removed, but damp fingers brushed through seems to work. A hat pulled low with sun glasses works for me. Berets don’t look as good on me though. Does not do its job of keeping the sun off of my face….
    Ali

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Berets are more of a winter thing.
      You have great hair so I’m not surprised a little finger styling works. Mine is limp and gets limper under a hat. But better limp hair than skin cancer, so hats are a constant in summer.

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  10. Like you, I generally carry a beret in my bag — they don’t take much space and they’re so effective, shedding rain quite decently.
    My husband has been wearing one of those wool caps with the brims ever since he bought a Kangol in a fabulous hat shop in Bayonne three years ago. Of course, he lost it last winter (I’m surprised he held on for that long!), but we replaced it last month and he’s happy to have it during our current chilly weather. The brim is great for directing rain off the face. . .

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I love this. Very funny, the pictures are great. My husband often wears a cap, and is very particular because he has a large head so when he finds one that fits he wears it for years. My father also has his favorite hats. I think it’s the best when you can associate the hat with the person, like it has taken on their scent, shape of the head, and somehow reflects the personality. Like you said, authentic.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. My father had a perfect head for hats of all kinds, berets in particular. He was an extra on many films for that reason, he claimed. Apparently not everyone can wear a beret just so.

    I have a small head – for my body, anyway – Merv Griffin would never have chosen me to flip letters. The upside is that I can wear wide brimmed hats on the ground, and well padded ones astride, without looking like a bobble-head. I’ve never tried a beret – my hair is curly, on it’s way to fuzzy, I suspect close fitting wool or any felt would end in an experiment in static electricity that would be more physics text book than beret advocacy. I’m envious of those who look attractive in a beret, more so of those who wear one regardless.

    Liked by 1 person

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