For centuries, the beret has been an emblematic symbol of French style and elegance. Once worn by peasants and artists, it now graces the heads of fashion icons and finds a place in many a wardrobe. However, choosing the ideal beret, combining modernity and authenticity, can be a complex task.
In this article, discover our 5 favorite beret brands and get our tips for perfecting your look with this timeless accessory!
What is a French Beret Hat?
With or without a braid, in the shape of a galette or slightly tilted, the beret never ceases to reinvent itself. But did you know that before it became a must-have fashion accessory, it traveled from the battlefields of Rome to the picturesque alleys of Paris?
Is the Beret French?
The beret, a French symbol, evokes Parisian bohemians and Pyrenean farmers. Yet the history of the beret goes back to the Roman Empire, where it was known as the “byrrus”. This flat, round headdress was worn by the people of the northern Empire and by soldiers.
Over time, the Celts and Iberians adapted the hat to their needs and traditions. This is how the beret began to diversify in style and use.
Crossing the Pyrenees, the headgear finally found its way to France during the Middle Ages. It was here that it was perfected into the beret we know today!
Why are Berets Associated with France?
The beret has rapidly become a marker of regional identity in France. The history of the Basque beret, for example, is a symbol of their culture and particularism.
Over time, it has become a symbol of “francité”, representing French fashion, elegance, and culture. This association is the result of a convergence between cinema, literature and fashion, where the beret has been presented as a typically French accessory.
- For example, the film “An American in Paris” (Un Américain à Paris), starring Gene Kelly, features the beret as an iconic element of Parisian fashion.
- More recently, “La La Land” shows Emma Stone wearing a beret in a Parisian setting that reinforces the romantic, nostalgic image of the capital.
How Many Beret Factories are There in France?
France is famous for its top-quality berets. In the past, the regions of Béarn and the Basque Country were full of small workshops dedicated to making them.
While modernization and the evolution of the textile industry have reduced their presence, a few prestigious houses remain, upholding the traditional art of the beret.
The most famous is “Laulhère”, based in Oloron-Sainte-Marie, proclaimed the last true Basque beret factory in France. Alongside it, a number of small workshops continue to forge this symbol, perpetuating a typically French tradition and know-how.
What are the Different Styles of French Beret?
From Basque to Breton and Bearn, each style tells a unique story and reflects a facet of French culture.
The Basque beret is probably the most iconic and widely recognized style. Originating in the Basque Country, this beret is made of wool, with a flat round shape and a small “stem” or “tail” in the center.
It can be worn tilted to one side or pulled back for a more casual look. Originally worn by peasants, it is now a sign of elegance and sophistication in fashion.
Béret de Béretière
Originally used by women who made berets, the béretière beret is smaller and more fitted than the Basque beret. It has a slightly domed shape and is often decorated with embroidery or motifs.
In the fashion world, it is appreciated for its femininity and vintage charm.
The Béarnais beret has the same shape as the Basque beret but is often larger and more supple. In the Middle Ages, its size and the way it was worn were linked to social status or profession. In the world of fashion, it is appreciated for its rustic yet elegant allure.
The Breton beret, also known as the “round hat”, is made of black wool felt with wide brims. A favorite of Breton sailors and peasants, it has become a symbol of cultural identity in Brittany.
Today, it is often associated with Breton dance and music festivals. In fashion, the Breton beret brings a maritime touch and a sense of belonging to a rich regional history.
Our 5 Favourite Beret Brands
Laulhère is an emblematic French company that has specialized in the manufacture of berets for almost two centuries. Synonymous with excellence, it offers berets of unrivaled quality, combining tradition and modernity. With prices varying according to finesse and detail, Laulhère satisfies purists and fashion lovers alike.
Le Béret Français
The official beret of the 2023 Rugby World Cup, a marriage of elegance and traditional know-how, “Le Béret Français” is a 100% French contemporary brand. The creations, offered at affordable prices, appeal to aficionados of classic style as much as to those with an eye for current trends. An irresistible French gift idea!
Boneteria Aotearoa is a unique brand drawing its inspiration from French and New Zealand traditions. Based in the Pyrenees, in Oloron Sainte Marie, it fuses the classic charm of the beret with a contemporary touch.
Expect to pay around €100 for a beret from this brand.
Established in 1946 in Caussade, Crambes is a French company renowned for its top-quality hats and berets. It combines tradition and innovation, highlighting centuries-old craftsmanship.
Each piece bears witness to meticulous attention to detail. Committed to durability and excellence, the brand is a guarantee of timeless elegance. A men’s French beret generally sells for around 100 euros.
Hermès, a French luxury house founded in 1837, offers berets that reflect its heritage of craftsmanship. Combining tradition and innovation, their collections offer exclusive and sophisticated designs. Made in France, in their dedicated workshops, these berets are the epitome of elegance.
In terms of price, true to their prestige, Hermès berets are in the top range, affirming their status as luxury items.
How to Wear a French Beret
The French beret is a symbol of style, culture, and elegance. Here are a few tips on how to wear this emblem of French fashion with grace and confidence:
- Traditionally, the beret is worn slightly tilted to one side. However, there’s no strict rule. You can wear it backward, sideways, or even forward, depending on the desired effect.
- Adjust the position according to your face shape: If you have a round face, tilt the beret to the side to add length. For long faces, wearing it lower on the forehead helps balance the proportions.
- Add brooches, badges, or other accessories to make your beret unique.
What to Wear a French Beret with?
Here are a few suggestions for matching your women’s French beret with your wardrobe:
- Pair your beret with a Breton striped shirt, skinny jeans, or a pencil skirt, with ballet flats or ankle boots for a typically Parisian look.
- For an elegant city look, wear your beret with a long coat, cashmere sweater, and high heels. A luxe scarf and structured handbag will complete the look perfectly.
- In winter, wear your beret with a thick wool coat, tights, a knitted scarf, and leather gloves to add a French touch to your outfits.
Men’s wardrobe? Here are a few ideas for gentlemen who want to incorporate the men’s French beret into their style:
- For an elegant look in town, pair your beret with a well-tailored coat, button-down shirt, chino pants, and leather shoes.
- When the mercury drops, combine your beret with a thick knit sweater, quilted jacket, jeans, and sturdy boots. A thick scarf and leather gloves will add a warm touch.
- For a bohemian aesthetic, opt for a patterned shirt, cardigan, faded jeans, and suede ankle boots.
Remember that the beret is an accessory that you can adapt to your style and wear with pride. After all, French charm is as much about attitude as it is about clothes!
The French beret hat now holds no secrets for you. You know its history, its styles, the main brands, and all the tips to get an elegant French look whatever the season!
Translated into English by Sacha