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An assumption of pomposity, self-regard and elitism

This is a beret. I’m not going to wear a beret. Oddly amorphous Japanese bucket hats yes, baseball caps, occasionally. Berets, never. This isn’t, I suspect, going to get in the way of brands I like making them and offering them to me, and by extension you. Indeed, this winter season has seen the beret crop up with some frequency. Berets to note would include this khaki corduroy number over at Engineered Garments, and Present’s colourful collections of Boinas Elosegui. Then there’s this from Mountain Research.

It’s Johnny Rotten inspired apparently, featuring a printed ”Bear-Head” wreath on top. It’s a detail that will either immediately sell you on the concept of berets and have you reaching for your VISA Debit, or, rather like I did when I saw it, make you pause, think, ‘oh that’s mildly interesting’ and get on with your beret-less life.

The problems I have with berets are numerous. Firstly (and most pathetically) I think beret and I think, Breton shirt, string of onions and a bicycle – the stereotypical French cliché basically. Secondly I think of Frank Spencer. I’m reminded that, “the cat’s done a whoopsie on the carpet.” If you’re old enough to remember, you’ll smile, if you’re too young, it’s probably not worth Googling.

My main problem with berets is that they carry a heavy cultural baggage of affectation. Wannabe painters, poets, writers, sculptors have all reached for the beret as a creative signifier. As a consequence, when I see someone in one I make an assumption of pomposity, self-regard and elitism. Which is of course… Hang on, is it me, or are beret’s starting to sound pretty good?

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