Like them? Wear them? Associate them with The French? It was this headline that caught my eye:
‘Berets, Unapologetically French And Unapologetically Chic’ (Elle UK).
No surprises there, with the inclusion of the words French and Chic!
I’ve written before about stereotypes associated with France and the French, including wearing striped Breton tops, carrying baguettes and, of course, wearing berets. Over the years, I’ve seen very few French people wearing berets ( although I have seen plenty of striped tops and baguette carriers!!) and on those occasions I have they’ve tended to be sported by older gentlemen!
Bérets have been around for a very long time. Depending on which source you read, the béret can be accredited to Noah or the ancient Greeks but the ‘modern’ beret is said to have originated in the Basque region.
I asked my youngest son what he associated with the word ‘béret’. He came up with worn by ‘the military and pretentious artists (!).’
He’s probably right up to a point. Picasso, Marlène Dietrich, Faye Dunaway and so many other painters, actors, singers have been pictured wearing berets. Whether this makes them pretentious, I have no idea! There are many other celebrated beret wearers. Too many to mention in one blog post!
The beret has also been used to symbolise revolution; as worn by Che Guevara for example.
My first encounter with a béret was as part of my Brownie uniform. Haha! Luckily, I don’t have any photos of me wearing, what I considered to be the most hideous outfit. For someone with olive skin, a brown dress, accessorised with touches of yellow, did me no favours at all!
I managed to find this image on Pinterest. It is almost an exact replica of my Brownie uniform. I believe that the Brownie uniform is much more practical now.
What about bérets as a fashion item? I must have been scarred by my Brownie Uniform Beret as I have never worn one since I was eleven. Apparently bérets are back in fashion. I know for some people they have never gone away. I’m actually thinking that I might be brave and try a beret. I’m sure I’ll be able to find one in charity (thrift) shop.
Sadly, there is only one historic beret factory left in France: Laulhère. The Laulhère company has become something of a French institution… It’s the last remaining factory producing distinct and 100% homegrown French berets, which it’s been doing for 200 years. Having survived the threat of bankruptcy, the company is now growing and its berets are even worn by princesses and movie stars.
I’m looking forward to hearing from all those beret wearers out there!