Berets Without Irony

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.