Last updated: August 8, 2021

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Welcome to our big beret test 2021. Here we present all the berets we have tested in detail. We have compiled detailed background information and added a summary of customer reviews on the web.

We would like to make your purchase decision easier and help you find the best beret for you. You will also find answers to frequently asked questions in our guide. If available, we also offer interesting test videos. Furthermore, you will also find some important information on this page that you should definitely pay attention to if you want to buy a beret.




Summary

  • The beret is a flat cloth cap the size of a dinner plate, characterised by a small stub in the middle.
  • The beret is a historical headgear from the southwest of France that owes its name to Napoleon III. The latter mistakenly called it the "béret basque" because he saw it proliferating during a trip to the Basque Country.
  • Although it used to be worn mainly by men, today it is mainly found in women's fashion and is available in a wide variety of colours and designs, as well as in wool, felt, corduroy or leather.

The best Beret in the United Kingdom: Our Picks

Guide: Questions you should deal with before buying a beret

What is a beret?

A beret is a head covering that is usually made of wool or felt and is characterised by a round, flat shape. The cap is also relatively wide cut and has the circumference of a medium-sized plate. A typical feature of the beret is a small stub of wool in the centre of the cap, which is the remnant of a pom-pom that was common for the earlier berets. Nowadays, the beret is particularly popular among intellectuals and artists, but it is also often worn as a fashion accessory in leisure time, as it is not only stylish, but also practical, crease-resistant, air-permeable and, depending on the material, water-repellent.

Where does the beret come from?

The beret originally comes not from the Basque country, as one might assume from the name, but from the Pyrenees region in the French southwest and the neighbouring Béarn.
Did you know that the name "beret" is actually historically incorrect? The beret did not originate in the Basque Country on the border between France and Spain, but in the neighbouring region of Béarn. According to tradition, none other than Napoleon III mistakenly called the caps "bérets basques" instead of "béret béarnais" when he travelled to the region in 1855. However, no one drew his attention to his mistake, probably out of reverence, which is how the term "beret basque" came to be coined.

The cap's name is based on Napoleon III, who liked to spend time in the Basque Country with his wife Eugénie and saw many peasants there wearing this type of cap. He therefore mistakenly called them "béret basque" and thus established the term among the population. On the Spanish side of the Pyrenees, this type of cap was also widespread from the middle of the 19th century and was called "boinas". Through the Spanish immigrants, the Spanish beret reached South America and spread there, especially in Argentina and Uruguay.

The political significance of the French beret came in the 19th century and was also seen as a sign of national identity.

What does a beret cost?

The cost of a beret varies depending on the quality, design, material and place of purchase. In department stores or smaller shops, the prices are sometimes slightly more expensive in comparison than in the online shop, as it is easier to compare the different suppliers online.

The beret is characterised by its flat shape and its stub in the middle of the cap. (Photo: Dani Vivanco / unsplash.com)

You can generally buy simple berets for between ten and 20 euros. These are berets made of polyacrylic, simple wool or a wool blend. If you are looking for better quality and workmanship, but still want to keep an eye on the price, you should go for berets made of alpaca wool, angora or good felt. High-quality material and well-known brands such as Akubra, Barts, Mayers, Stetson and Wegener, for example, are somewhat more expensive simply because of their name and cost from 60 euros. Moreover, higher-quality berets are usually handmade and made of special materials such as nappa leather with satin lining or cashmere wool.

Model Price
Lower price range 10 to 20 euros
Middle price range 30 to 60 euros
Upper price range from 60 €

Are there differences in berets for men and women?

Berets for men

The berets for men are usually in the traditional cut and in the colours beige, grey, blue or brown. The classic men's beret is made of black wool and worn with a jacket, jumper and trousers, but nowadays it can also be combined in many different ways. Beanies are particularly suitable for men with a narrow face, which makes their facial features appear even more striking and masculine. In addition, berets usually have a leather band on the inside, which is rather untypical for the ladies' beret.

Beret for ladies

The beret, which was originally worn exclusively by men, found its way into women's fashion in the 1920s, mainly through stars like Marlene Dietrich. Nowadays, the beret is even worn more by women than by men and is available in a wide variety of colours and designs. This is also the difference to the beret for men, as a wider variety of models is offered for women's versions. This includes not only the colours, which besides the classic red, black or blue also come in feminine colours such as pink, rose or violet, but also the playful designs, such as little flowers, or bows. For extravagant preferences, there are also berets with sequins and glitter optics, which can also be worn when going out. Gloves and scarves in the same colour are often worn with the different berets.

Decision: What types of berets are there and which one is right for you?

Basically, you can decide between two types of berets:

  • Original berets
  • Slouch hats

Due to the different designs and types of manufacture, the characteristics of the berets are different. This results in advantages and disadvantages that can arise when wearing the cap. Depending on the purpose and preference, one or the other beret may be more suitable. The following section briefly explains the differences in workmanship and design so that you can decide for yourself which beret is right for you. It also describes the advantages and disadvantages of each beret.

What is an original beret and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

An original beret is the typical plate-sized flat cap with small stubs that embodies the typical French charm.

Advantages
  • Suitable for all seasons
  • Easy to store
  • Casual and chic look
Disadvantages
  • No eye protection

Generally, these are made of felt or wool and are therefore suitable for both cold winter and warm summer weather. Thanks to the flexible material, the beret can easily be stowed in the bag without crumpling. Depending on the size, the beret can be worn a little looser.

What is a beret and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

Slouchy caps are a form of beret and are also known as boatmen's caps or flat caps. The difference to the beret lies in the design of the slouchy cap, as it also has a peak at the front of the cap and the typical stub in the middle of the cap is missing. The peak is usually flexible and sewn through to the front and takes up the front quarter of the round cap. This serves as protection for the eye area from the sun or rain. This type of beret is preferably worn by men and was originally used in the 1930s as part of the working clothes of foremen. The visor was intended to keep wood chips out of the eyes and hair.

Advantages
  • Protection in all weathers
  • Look stylish and casual
Disadvantages
  • Models with ear and neck protection bad are stowable

Nowadays, it is especially popular in hunting or sportswear. Special models also have additional ear and neck protection, which protect against cold weather and can therefore also be worn in winter.

Buying criteria: Use these factors to compare and evaluate berets

This chapter describes the most important factors used to compare berets. The following criteria will help you find the right beret for you and make your purchase decision easier:

  • Size
  • Colour & Design
  • Material
  • Cleaning effort

Size

Berets are available in a wide range of sizes. If you want to buy your beret in a shop, you can try it on to see which one fits your head best or ask the shop assistant for advice. If you want to order your beret online, you should first find out your head size. To find out your own hat size, you can simply measure your head circumference with a tape measure. To do this, place the tape measure on the back of your head and bring it forward on both sides just above your ears and join it over your eyebrows in the middle of your forehead.

Slouch hats are preferred by men and are characterised by their small peak at the front of the hat. (Photo: Meghan Holmes/ unsplash.com)

If the measurement is an odd number, such as 57.5 centimetres, it is better to take the next larger number, 58 centimetres. The centimetre number then simply gives the German hat size. If you prefer a loose and casual fit for your beret, you can also buy it one size larger. There are also differences in the size of the outer diameter of the cap. You can choose between a larger diameter, which is nine to 12 pouce wide, or narrower models with eight pouce. Pouce is a French unit of measurement that is still used in many hat shops today.

Colour & Design

The traditional colours of a beret are black, white, beige, red and blue. However, it is now available in all kinds of colours and patterns, such as chequered, dotted or striped. The designs generally differ in cut, as some models are cut a little wider and thus lie a little looser on the head. There are also styles like the slouchy cap, which are distinguished in their design by the small peak at the front edge of the cap.

Material

Wool

The traditional beret is made of wool and dates back to the time when it was worn by shepherds. Today, it is an accessory that is worn by both men and women in their free time. In this case, the beret can be made of simple wool, but also of special wool such as cashmere. Special and playful models are also available in coarse knitted or crocheted designs, which can also be decorated with flowers or patterns.

Felt

Felt has also long been used as a material for making berets. On the one hand, it offers the wearer protection in cold weather, just like wool, and on the other hand, it protects the head from the sun on warm days.

Berets are available in a wide variety of colours. (Photo: CarolinaP/ pixabay.com)

Corduroy

Corduroy is a material with velvet-like longitudinal ribs that was especially popular during the 70s and 80s. Nowadays, it is especially popular for the autumn or winter season and gives your outfit a casual, urban look.

Leather / imitation leather

Berets are also available in leather or faux leather. These can add a cool, rocking flair to your outfit. You can pre-treat your beret with Teflon to give the fabric a water-repellent function so that it can be worn in bad weather.

Material Special features
Wool Wool is a material made from natural fibres and is therefore particularly kind to the skin. It gives a pleasant feeling when worn and is warming.
Felt Felt can be made from natural as well as synthetic fibres. It is characterised by its warming properties and is easy to care for.
Corduroy Corduroy can also be made from natural and synthetic fibres. The velvety soft material gives a particularly casual look.
Leather Leather is made from animal skins and is particularly durable. It gives a cool look and is also water-repellent with the right pre-treatment.

Cleaning effort

Depending on the material, the beret should be cared for differently. In many cases, it is best not to wash the beret but to clean it with a clothes brush, as this is much gentler on the material. Furthermore, berets made of wool should not be washed too warm, as the fabric will otherwise shrink. We recommend washing them gently by hand only when necessary.

Do not dry your beret in the tumble dryer or directly in the sun, but on a towel so that the material is not damaged or the colour fades.

Facts worth knowing about berets

History of the beret

The origin of the beret goes back to the region around the Pyrenees in south-west France, as well as the neighbouring region of Béarn and Gascogne. Since Napoleon III liked to stay in the Basque country, he named the cap after this region and since no one wanted to contradict him, the name became established. At that time, the beret was mainly worn by shepherds and farmers. During the French Revolution, the beret arrived in Paris.

Did you know that there is a difference between a beret and a beret? Unlike a beret, the beret is a civilian head covering. Another feature is the small stub in the middle of the beret - a remnant of an earlier bobble.

The beret had a special and political significance during the Carlist Wars in the 19th century, as red berets served as the distinguishing mark of the Navarrese battalions. Afterwards, the beret in the colours black or dark blue developed into a symbol of national identity and was also popular among the civilian population in France as well as Spain. This was particularly evident in the 1940s, when wearing a beret in German-occupied Alsace-Lorraine was perceived as a sign of resistance and was therefore also banned. Nowadays, the beret is seen as a fashionable piece of clothing that is also particularly popular among intellectuals or artists.

How do I wear a beret correctly?

You can wear a beret on your head like any other hat. However, you get the typical French look if you wear the beret tilted slightly to the side. Larger models with a wider diameter of the plate are best suited for this. The beret can also be combined with a wide variety of outfits and styles. If you prefer the classic look, we recommend combining the beret with grey suit or chino trousers and a white shirt or blouse. Go with nice white sneakers and a casual jacket. Of course, the beret is also typically Parisian chic when combined with a turtleneck jumper and ankle boots. Another look is military or street style. This includes a dark blue beret together with an olive green jacket and blue slim jeans with black boots. A grey scarf rounds off the outfit and keeps you warm on cold days. Get urban chic with light-coloured loose jeans, a T-shirt and a peaked cap.

Make your own beret

If you prefer to make your own beret instead of buying one, there are several options. These include knitting, crocheting or sewing a beret. There are various YouTube channels and blog sites on the internet that can help you with this. All you need are the necessary materials such as wool, knitting or crochet needles or felt and a sewing machine. The advantage of this is that you can make the beret exactly as you want it and adapt it to the shape of your head.

Photo credit: Dani Vivanco / unsplash.com

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