The first beret I ever bought was bright red and had subtle leather detailing. I was over the moon with excitement when I picked it up, confident that this single accessory would transform my entire vibe from insecure adolescent to worldly, confident woman. The only problem? I had no idea how to properly balance the pancake-like piece atop my head, and I was confident that I'd be receiving side-eyes all day from my high school classmates if I wore my beret to school.
So that your beret doesn't collect dust for the next ten years (like mine did), I'm here today to provide you all with a comprehensive guide to wearing a beret with confidence, so you can channel your inner French It-Girl without feeling like you're in costume.
A Brief History of the Beret
It's interesting that berets are seen now as superfluous accessories, because they were once considered utilitarian. Long worn by French military men, peasants, and artists (most famously by Dutch painter Rembrandt), berets were a predominantly male accessory until Coco Chanel began flaunting them herself in the 1920s. They were later used as political statements by American organizations such as the Young Lords and the Black Panthers—but for many, they still hearken back to classic French style.
How to Put On a Beret
The lightweight beret provides just enough warmth without flattening your hair or making you sweat like the (also beloved) beanie might, so it's the perfect hat for spring. To wear it, place it flat on your head with the brim covering the very top of your forehead, then pull down the back or the side so that the hat is secured to your head. You can wear it lopsided, perfectly straight, or pulled down over your ears for extra warmth. C'est simple!
Kate Spade Ribbed Bow Beret
Nicholas Daley Burgundy & Orange Hand-Knit Beret
Eugenia Kim Carter Leather Beret
Chanel Pre-Owned 1990s CC Logo-Embroidered Beret
How to Style a Beret
Make It Monochromatic
Make the beret an integral part of your outfit by matching it with your pants, shirt, coat—even your shoes! Berets come in every color you can think of, so you'll have no trouble finding one that goes seamlessly with your outfit.
ASOS Design Wool Beret in Lilac
Gap High Rise '90s Loose Jeans with Washwell
Urban Outfitters Jolie Felt Beret
Anthropologie Maeve Sweetheart Top
Dress It Down with Jeans and a Tee
Being that the beret has such a fancy contemporary reputation, you may want to balance it out with a classic jeans-and-white-tee outfit. It'll elevate your casual weekend 'fit while playing down the oh-so-European accessory. Win-win.
Warp + Weft ASE High Rise Straight 28"
Alex Crane Sun Tee in Bone
Hollister Curvy High-Rise Ripped Dark Wash Jeans
Pair It With a Statement Piece
If you're still nervous about your beret attracting attention, distract onlookers by bringing attention to the rest of your look with a colorful top, patterned pants, or a one-of-a-kind coat.
Farm Rio Printed Linen-Blend Mini Dress
Versace Jeans Couture Mini Skirt
Napapijri x Fiorucci Monogram Long Sleeve Top in Blue
Toughen It Up with Leather
I'm a big fan of pairing traditionally feminine styles with traditionally masculine ones, and nothing toughens a look up quite like leather. Don a leather jacket or bag, or get creative with leather accessories.
ASTR The Label Audrey Faux Leather Skirt
Steve Madden Just Ride Vegan Leather Jacket
Commando Faux-Leather Long-Line Bralette
Spanx Leather-Like Ankle Skinny Pant
Pair It With Plaid
There's nothing like the beret to summon images of France, and there's nothing like plaid to bring up thoughts of England. Pair the two classic, notoriously fashionable cultures by bringing their staples together.
Avec Les Filles Plaid Blocked Longline Coat
Alo Yoga Legacy Plaid Varsity Tennis Skirt
Banana Republic Slim-Fit Washable Wool-Blend Pant
Riley & Rae Diana Plaid A-Line Dress
Wear It With a Blazer
The classic, Bohemian beret goes beautifully with the equally as classic but far more structured blazer. Go all the way with matching dress pants or a pencil skirt, or choose an oversized blazer that can be thrown over tights or a pair of jeans.
Gabrielle Ulubay is an E-Commerce Writer at Marie Claire and writes about all things fashion and beauty. She's also written about politics, gender, and sex for publications like Bustle, HuffPost Personal, and The New York Times. As a film school graduate, she loves all things media and can be found making art when she's not busy writing.