Master French girl style with our guide to different types of berets for women and how to wear them fashionably. The perfect hat for bad hair days, sun, and cold.
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The soft, round, flat-crowned beret tilted stylishly on the head is a timeless accessory that adds Parisian flair to any woman’s wardrobe. Thanks to their versatility and functionality, berets have been a fashionable women’s hat choice for over a century.
Beyond looking chic, berets serve many practical purposes, from warming your ears on a cold day to providing sun protection to neatly covering up a bad hair day. There is also abundant variety in beret materials, styles, and ways to wear them.
A History of Berets for Women
The origins of the classic wool beret date back to 19th century France, where it emerged as standard headwear for peasants and artists, especially in the Basque region. French women adopted the style during World War I while working factory jobs as men went off to war.
By the 1920s, famed fashion icon Coco Chanel was wearing berets and popularizing them as a bold fashion statement for modern women of the era. Other stylish women like Brigitte Bardot, Edith Piaf, and Marlene Dietrich helped cement the beret as a symbol of Parisian chic in the 1930s and 40s.
The beret saw another rise in popularity during World War II when women donned the hat with their uniforms. Over the following decades, the women’s beret drifted in and out of mainstream fashion. But it perpetually returns thanks to its classic, versatile shape that pairs well with various aesthetics and functions.
Why So Timeless?
So what makes the women’s beret such an enduring fashion accessory decade after decade? A few factors help explain its longevity in women’s wardrobes:
- Flattering shape – The beret’s round, flat-topped silhouette suits most face shapes and hairstyles. The slight lift it gives creates a shapely silhouette.
- Artistic vibe – Its origins with French painters and cultural icons lend the beret an artistic, creative aura. Women love channeling that artsy chic look.
- Practicality – Berets serve practical purposes like warming ears, blocking the sun, and covering messy hair. Their functionality keeps them relevant.
- Customizable – With endless color, fabric, and styling options, berets allow women to make each one their own.
- Travel-friendly – Berets squish into bags without losing shape, making them ideal travel companions.
For these reasons and more, the beret remains a staple accessory for women decade after decade. They are loved for bringing both fashion and function to your hat rotation.
Materials and Styles for Every Season
One of the significant aspects of berets for women is that they come in a wide selection of fabrics to suit different seasons and settings. Here are some of the most popular materials and styles of berets for women:
Wool – The Traditional Choice
- Merino wool – This soft, fine wool makes berets warm but breathable. It doesn’t itch against the skin.
- Heavy wool – Thicker wool styles provide extra warmth in frigid weather. Look for wool felt or melton wool.
- Tweeds/plaids – Wool berets come in stylish tweed fabrics or plaid patterns.
Wool has been the traditional beret fabric since the hat’s inception. It provides warmth in cold months while still offering breathability. Merino wool is exceptionally soft and won’t itch against the skin. For the most freezing weather, heavy wool styles add even more insulation. Playful tweed or plaid wool berets add a decorative touch.
Cashmere – The Luxurious Option
Cashmere is the luxe choice for those looking for decadent softness and warmth from their beret. The downside is the price tag will also be higher. But cashmere fans love the extreme softness and warmth and the elegance it lends to any look. A cashmere beret makes a refined winter accessory.
Cotton – The Warm Weather Pick
Cotton berets allow this hat style to transition into the warmer seasons. Cotton is lighter and more breathable than wool. It also comes in a spectrum of colors. The downside is that cotton berets lack some of the structured shape of wool. But for spring and summer, cotton is a chic choice.
Leather, Velvet, and Tweed – Textured Options
Beyond the main fabric choices, you can also find berets made of materials like:
- Leather – Adds a rocker chic or edgy vibe.
- Velvet – Plush velvet berets suit dressier occasions.
- Tweed – Provides texture and style.
These materials give you even more options to vary your beret collection. Leather, velvet, or tweed berets let you get more styling mileage from the classic hat shape.
Styles – French to Military
In addition to materials, women’s berets also come in a few distinct styles:
- The classic style with a round cap shape.
- Structured look with purposely collapsed sides.
- Medium-sized brim.
- Round but with a softer, floppier, and slouchier profile.
- Provides more coverage than a French beret.
- It can be worn slouched lower on the head.
- It is a very thick and warm beret designed for winter sports.
- It is typically made of wool felt with fleece lining.
- It was topped with a pompom.
- Flat, stiff beret with no slouch or collapse.
- Straight sides and small brim.
- Usually worn pulled low on the head.
The options go far beyond the classic French beret style. Whether you prefer a structured military look, a ski-ready pompom beret, or a soft, slouchy tam, there’s a beret shape for everyone.
How to Style Berets for Women Like a Fashionista
While berets for women are easy to pop on, there are some subtle tricks for wearing them in a polished, chic way:
Wear It Well Tilted
- Berets look best worn slightly tilted rather than pulled straight down on your head.
- The cheeky tilt is the signature styling move for a beret.
- Angle it to the side in a way that flatters your face shape.
- Let a bit of hair peek out on the tilted side.
Pair with Complementary Outfits
- Stick with crisp, tailored clothing that offsets the beret’s round softness.
- Button-down shirts, sweaters, jeans, trousers, and peacoats complement berets nicely.
- Wool berets suit colder weather outfits, while cotton pairs well with dresses or lighter layers.
- Add tights and boots in winter or wedge espadrilles in summer.
Mix Up Your Materials
- Wool styles are ideal for fall and winter months when you need warmth.
- Cotton or canvas berets work better in warm weather.
- Cashmere, velvet, and leather berets dress up an outfit.
- Try different materials to vary your looks.
Know When To Sport It
- Berets work for many occasions beyond just fashion. They’re perfect for:
- Bad hair days – disguises dirty or messy hair
- Cold ears – provide warmth on frigid days
- Sun protection – shields face and neck
- Travel days – packs neatly and won’t crush
- But berets also dress up jeans, dresses, and coats for a date night or day out.
Top It Off
- Style your beret as the crowning final touch to your outfit.
- Pop it on after you’ve dressed to elevate the look.
- Choose a color that complements your outfit rather than matches.
- Let the beret be the statement piece.
Follow these tips, and a beret will lend any outfit a stylish, pulled-together polish.
“Accessories are the exclamation points in your wardrobe.” – Kay Unger
“Fashion fades, only style remains the same.” – Coco Chanel
“Style is a way to say who you are without having to speak.” – Rachel Zoe
Functional Benefits Beyond Just Looking Chic
While berets for women are known for being fashionable accessories, they also provide proper functionality that keeps women reaching for them year after year.
Warmth Without Weight
One of the best aspects of a wool beret is how it traps heat and warms your head. The wool fabric captures body heat while allowing breathability so you don’t overheat.
Berets are the perfect weight for fall and winter. They add warmth without being bulky and heavy, like some knit hats. The wool insulation protects your ears on cold days while fitting neatly under hoods or hard hats.
For frigid temperatures, look for styles made of thick melton wool or with a fleece lining for extra coziness. Berets made of Merino wool or cashmere will also fight chill while draping softly.
Sun Protection With Style
Another bonus of berets for women is the sun protection they provide. The brim encircling the hat provides shade from UV rays for your face, ears, and neck.
While a wide-brimmed hat is also effective against sun exposure, berets do the job with much more style. The chic tilt and rounded shape make you look fashionable rather than fussy.
If you are out in intensive sun, look for tightly woven wool, cotton, or canvas berets rather than loose knits that could let rays filter through. A beret is less comprehensive than a big sun hat but strikes a nice balance of coverage and fashion.
Disguising Bad Hair Days
We all have those mornings when we wake up with hair that won’t cooperate. This is when your trusty beret comes to the rescue!
Berets are magic at neatly taming unwashed, tangled, or stubborn hair into submission. Slip one on, style your hair loosely underneath, and you’ll have a polished look.
The structured wool or cotton and brim hide everything happening underneath. Suddenly, messy locks and lousy hair days disappear with the addition of a chic beret.
Berets also conveniently cover processed hair in need of root touch-ups. So next time you hit the snooze too many times to wash your hair, grab your beret and go!
Travel and Adventure Companion
An often overlooked perk of berets for women is what an ideal travel accessory they make. Since they are made of soft materials like wool or cotton, you can easily pack them without crushing them like a sturdy hat.
Tuck a beret into a corner of your suitcase or bag, and it will pop right back into shape when removed. The compressible nature also makes them ideal for stashing in your purse or backpack when you’re going about town.
Berets also manage windy conditions nicely. The round shape and secure fit mean gusts won’t blow your beret away in the breeze. There’s no ribbon tying or chin strap to fuss with, either.
Flapper cloche hats and wide brims often take flight in the wind. So berets make a much more travel and adventure-friendly hat choice. You look stylish, strolling Parisian streets or climbing the foothills of Machu Picchu!
Berets for Women Inspiration From Fashion Icons
Berets have been donned by so many influential style icons over the decades. Here are some chic women known for rocking berets and making them forever fashionable:
The renowned designer famously styled her signature tweed suits with berets in the 1920s and 30s. She lent the humble hat an air of French sophistication.
No one looked more glamorous in a beret than this Hollywood golden age star. She made it part of her femme fatale signature style.
Whether playing Holly Golightly or Eliza Doolittle, Hepburn looked darling in a tilted beret. She styled them both casually and formally.
This bombshell made berets a sexy accessory for day or night. She popularized the scarf-tied-under-chin beret look.
The godmother of punk rock wore black berets in an edgier, androgynous style. She made them radical hip.
This French pop singer sported girlish berets with signature bangs and kittenish style.
One of today’s top supermodels, Hadid, wears bright wool berets while off-duty for a modern, street-chic vibe. Her colorful berets feel fresh and current.
Whatever your style, you will find beret inspiration from one of these fashion icons, past or present. Find images of your favorite beret looks and pin them up when you need outfit ideas.
Frequently Asked Questions About Berets for Women
What is the best season to wear berets for women?
Wool berets are ideal for fall and winter weather when you want warmth.
Cotton or canvas berets work better for staying cool in spring and summer.
Leather, velvet, and tweed berets add styling options in any season.
How do I find the fitting size beret?
Measure your head circumference to get your hat size. Match this to the beret size.
Try berets on and look for one that sits securely without tightness.
Berets should fit snugly but have room for hair underneath without bulging.
Which side do you tilt a beret on?
Most people list their beret slightly to the right or left.
Choose the direction that flatters your face shape and hairstyle best.
Keep rocking consistently once you find a flattering angle.
Can guys wear berets, too?
Absolutely! Berets began as a men’s accessory.
Men should opt for more structured military or French beret styles rather than slouchy tams.
Stick to traditional colors like black, navy, or gray.
How do you keep a wool beret from itching?
Seek out berets made of fine Merino wool instead of scratchy wool.
Go a size up so the beret sits looser rather than tight on your head.
Wear a silk scarf or headband underneath to prevent irritation.
What clothes look best with a beret?
Berets for women pair nicely with button-downs, sweaters, jeans, trousers, peacoats, and dresses.
Choose more formal looks for dressy styles like velvet berets.
Bright casual clothing complements most berets.
The Berets for Women has cemented its status as an eternal classic within women’s hats. Its rich history intertwined with strong, iconic women gives it a sense of meaning. But berets also continue to feel fresh and relevant in the modern age.
The beret’s perfect balance of fashion, function, and versatility ensures it remains a staple in women’s wardrobes. There are so many colors, fabrics, and styling options that each woman can make a beret independently.
So consider adding one – or a few – of these chic caps to your accessory collection. Let me know in the comments your thoughts on berets and which style is your favorite!
I am a professional writer, fashion blogger, and owner of the site https://laoutaris.com. As a salesperson for more than 20 years, I have experience of 10 years in the fashion industry. I consider myself a true fashionista. I am writing daily blog articles about fashion, tools and converters, and everything you need to know about the current fashion trends.
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