Culture

Beret Hat: History and Overview

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Introduction

It is a hat which made of felt. Felt is a kind of pressure-treated fabric of mainly wet wool, the fur in general. The shepherds used to put wool inside their shoes for protection from weather in their long walks. The exposure of the wool to the sweat moisture and the pressure resulting from walking for long distances produced a compressed cloth, and from here humankind came to know the felt.
Due to felt’s easy production procedure and its high quality, it was optimum fabric to protect against weather conditions. It was used in the manufacture of hair houses inhabited by the Bedouins, in the manufacture of clothes, shoes and head-wear on a worldwide scale. [1]

Beret Hat

A beret hat is a flexible, circular flat-brimmed hat found in the history of many countries in different shapes, sizes and ways of wearing. It was used in military fashion due to its flexibility and it can be used under different circumstances. Then it moved to women’s fashion after Coco Chanel introduced it to its collections. [1]

History

Archaeologists have found patterns for these hats on tombs found in the Bronze Age (3200-600 BC) in Italy and Denmark, and some statues and sculptures in Western and Northern Europe.

Young boy wearing a Petasos (Greece); Los Tres Reyes Magos (The Three Wise Men) wearing Pileus; Odysseus weaing a Pileus
Young boy wearing a Petasos (Greece); Los Tres Reyes Magos (The Three Wise Men) wearing Pileus; Odysseus weaing a Pileus

In the 15th century, it was common among farm workers in southern France, and then moved to the Basque region of Gebuzcoa by the French / Spanish River Bidasoa which the residents of that region later regarded as a symbol par excellence of their local identity. The Black Beret is also famous as a symbol of the French and most of the inhabitants of Europe later.
It was commonly worn among the poor classes (1500 – 1600 AD), as artists and farmers were known to wear it because it was inexpensive and practical for people who work outside.
In the period between (1700 – 1800 AD) this type of hats was famously known as “Beret” in 1835; which was derived from the Latin word Birretum where the term bearnais berret refers to the meaning of “flat”,
It also became popular among politicians, as the red beret appeared during World War II in Portrait of the Spanish leader “Tomas Zumalacarregui” wearing a red beret, which became a symbol for people who support him.

Portraits of Tomas Zumalacarregui, a Carlist leader
Portraits of Tomas Zumalacarregui, a Carlist leader

In the 1900s, it began to enter the world of fashion strongly for men and women, and became a kind of bohemian elegance. It worn by famous people such as Ernest Hemingway and the French singer Edith Piaf.

French actress Arletty in 1935 and actress Danielle Darrieux in 1938
French actress Arletty in 1935 and actress Danielle Darrieux in 1938

In the World War I, it began to spread widely from country to country where the British adopted the black beret in the uniform of their armies, and in the United States of America adopted the green beret, and the matter reached countries such as China, Sri Lanka, Canada and Ukraine.

 It also became popular among revolutionaries in 1960 as Bridget Bardot and Che Guevara. [1] [1] [1]

Brigitte Bardot in the 1960s and Che Guevara (L) with Fidel Castro in the early 1960s
Brigitte Bardot in the 1960s and Che Guevara (L) with Fidel Castro in the early 1960s
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