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From its humble beginnings as a farmer’s hat, the beret has become a true symbol of French sophistication.

This stylish hat will never go out of fashion and is the perfect way to add some va-va-voom to any outfit. Whether you’re strutting through the city streets or taking a countryside break, add some true je ne sais quoi to your look with a beret.

From a farmer’s hat to Parisian cool

The story of the French beret begins in the rugged mountains of the Basque Country. Locals adopted the hat for its practical qualities rather than as a fashion statement.

Warm and cosy, the beret was the perfect choice for outdoor wear. It was traditionally made from wool, which made it ideal for the rainy Basque weather.

Shepherds, fishermen and other outdoor workers reached for their berets each morning as they headed out to work.

At first, berets were always made by hand, but in the early 19th century, hat factories developed mass production techniques.

Soon, the beret had gone beyond its Basque roots, becoming popular across France. It was seen as a symbol of the working classes, and workers all over the country proudly added it to their everyday outfits.

Many artists fell in love with the beret. Monet, Cezanne and Picasso were among those who adopted the humble hat, so by the 1920s, it had become closely linked with the world of art.

Now infused with a hip bohemian edge, the beret became beloved by trendy Parisians. In time, it would also become a standard military cap worn by soldiers all over the world.

How to rock a beret in the 21st century

Don’t want to look like an artist or a soldier? Fear not. The French beret has an element of timeless chic that works with all kinds of different outfits. Here are some of the coolest ways to wear your beret in the 2020s:

  • Embrace your inner Parisian. Wear your beret out and about with a trenchcoat and skinny jeans. If you dare, you can even go full French with a classic Breton top. Scared to go totally Gallic? Then mix it up with a funky logo or print tee instead.
  • Go punk. Discover the beret’s edgy side by wearing it with a leather jacket. Stick with jeans or, if you’re feeling daring, try a tartan skirt.
  • Opt for boho chic with a maxi dress or skirt. This is a great time to experiment with different beret colours. Don’t go matchy-matchy with your outfit. Instead, choose a complementary colour for a truly chic look.

Making sure your beret lasts

A good French beret can be a timeless addition to your wardrobe that transcends the seasons. Materials like cashmere and merino wool are the best choice; they are light and breathable while still keeping your noggin warm.

Store your beret carefully – don’t fold it, as you can damage the shape – and if it gets dirty, gently spot-clean it and brush away the stain. With a bit of care, you’ll be wearing your French beret for years to come.

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