Tuesday, April 28, 2009

From the UK

Another, very British, response to the recent beret-sale-increase. Easy to forgive them...

They're back...but trust me, NO ONE looks good in a beret

By ERIN KELLY www.Dailymail.co.nz 

Last updated at 1:11 PM on 20th April 2009

Those who like their hats flat are in for a treat this spring. 

Sales of berets have doubled, according to manufacturers in Orlon Sainte Marie, the beret-making region in south-west France, as bobos (French yuppies) buy them by the armful.

And as fashion dictates that anything happening in France is the last word in chic, the trend is crossing La Manche faster than a ferry. 

Oh dear. Why is there a rush to buy a hat that makes the wearer look like a mushroom?

Fashionistas are theorising that the credit crunch is driving us to revert to authentic garments: we are attracted to the beret as it is a symbol of a romantic, rural past.

The beret might be a traditional piece of Gallic headgear, but so is the tam o'shanter, and you don't see baggy tartan bobblehats in Topshop for a very good reason.

Until its latest resurgence, the beret was largely worn by spinsterish pottery teachers. 

Today, berets send out other messages about their wearers.

There is a barking-mad woman who works at my local library. She has a selection of angora berets in colours ranging from mauve through to lilac. 

Her headgear is a useful shorthand that lets people know to keep their distance.

However, the beret has a noble and distinguished history and, in context, commands respect and authority. 

Most armies in the world top off their uniforms with the jaunty little hats and, on the heads of soldiers, they look smart - sexy even.

Berets were also famously worn by Jean-Paul Sartre and Pablo Picasso. 

Marlene Dietrich scandalised polite society when she became the first woman to wear a beret in the Twenties - so it's all her fault it's a unisex garment - and it was later adopted by Brigitte Bardot and Greta Garbo.

Sadly, most people don't think immediately of war heroes, philosophers, artists or iconic moody actresses when they think of the beret: they think of Saddam Hussein, Seventies sitcom halfwit Frank Spencer or, if they are in their 30s, Ben from Eighties band Curiosity Killed The Cat - none of whom are obvious sartorial heroes to the average woman.

Even the most dedicated fashionista can't overcome the real sin of the beret, which is that it gives you the worst hat hair of any headgear, ever, with the possible exception of the swimming hat.

The snug-fitting band leaves a welt on the forehead, while the thick woolen fabric creates a dank, sweaty atmosphere inside the hat that will plaster the bounciest of blow-dries to the scalp in just a few minutes.

It's very French to suffer to be beautiful, but this is taking fashion victimhood too literally. Oh well, c'est la mode.


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