The Wo friends, Christos Tolera and Chris Sullivan, make a beret-check phone call to one another before they go out to DJ together, thus preventing a double-beret, matchy-matchy scenario. These savvy style merchants have been dropping berets since the late Seventies at legendary clubs such as Le Kilt, The Blitz and The Wag. They channel a blend of Latin jazz beatnik and New Romantic hero. And both adore a beret.
“Speaking as a longtime wearer of hats the only consistently risky titfer is a beret,” says Tolera. “They’re always somehow incongruous.” His striking looks range from circus strong man to Rat Pack Lothario. “I favour a snug sports beret à la bebop jazz and the ubiquitous Basque style.”
For 2019, berets are a major trend. Regardless of the fashion, they’re a potent and egalitarian instant-access accessory. Get one and you’re in. Anyone can pick one up, but it takes some front to wear, be it bravado, camp posturing or avant-garde edginess. Check iconic beret men Sonny Rollins, John Lydon, Public Enemy, Captain Sensible and pick your vibe.
Men’s Beret as an accessory that can transform an outfit. Combine with charcoal-grey suiting and rollneck and one becomes a suave Situationist thinker. Don with jeans and a chunky knit and you’re a rustic turbo-folk connoisseur. For an art-slant, street-style clash, drop a beret with a tracksuit. Jack Nicholson wore his with a tux and shades to the Oscars – double potent black-tie machismo.
Berets will always be synonymous with France, though the manliest style – with the leather headband and stalk – is a Basque version originally. Lock Hatters of St James’s get its Basque berets from the Boinas Elósegui factory in Tolosa, Spain. Basque men wear them flat and symmetrical, with the front tweaked forward and narrowed like a peaked cap. Naturally the French do it differently, worn as an extension of their psyche. “The beret goal is to bring out the personality we all have inside,” says the Elósegui website. And it’s right. Part of the beret’s appeal is that you can do what you want, be whomever you choose. Be it an activist’s stance or a hyper-camp aristo flex, there is so much to say with a beret.