How to Shape a Beret
Berets are a type of hat typically made of felt that have a flat appearance on top. Berets were popularized in France and Spain in the 19th century and are still widely associated with those cultures. They are also worn by various military and law enforcement personnel as part of their uniform in a folded style significantly different from their civilian counterparts. Although some organizations have begun issuing pre-shaped berets, many uniform berets still require special shaping by the wearer to produce a sharp look.
Knowing How to Wear Your Beret Properly
Learn your organization's dress code.Although the following can be used as a general guide for uniform berets, you will need to know any unique rules you may be required to follow.
- If you're wearing a beret for fashion, there is really no limit to how it may be worn (as long as it's sitting on top of your head). The most popular casual method of wearing a beret is to wear it without a fold and tilted so that the brim sits diagonally across your forehead. Usually casual berets need no shaping other than fuzz removal.
Align your beret properly.This typically means to wear your beret with the brim straight across your forehead. The United States Army requires the edge to sit one inch above the eyebrows. If your organization requires a "flash" insignia, it should be aligned over your left eye.
- Excess material will be folded and draped towards the right side of your head. This is typically why a beret must be shaped, as it will most likely resist holding this shape when brand new.
Keep an appropriate hairstyle.Do not wear hairstyles that may distort the shape of the beret, such as high buns or ponytails.Your bangs should not extend below the front brim of the beret.Some organizations, such as the United Kingdom's Royal Air Force, require that those with long hair keep it in a hairnet most closely matching their hair color.
Method 1 Quiz
Why should you avoid high buns or ponytails when wearing a beret for the military or other another organization?
Learning the Basics for Beret Shaping
Fit the beret to your head.If the beret is adjustable, place it on your head and adjust to the right size. Be sure to complete this step before getting the beret wet, since a wet beret can stretch or shrink. If you are unable to adjust your beret to fit snugly on your head, you may need one of a different size.
Remove the lining.Cut out the black inner lining of the beret, but be careful not to damage the fuzzy outer layer.Removing this lining will help you more easily shape the beret. Keep in mind that not all berets will have this component.
Remove any fuzz.This is typically done after you've finished shaping your beret. However, if your beret is already visible pilled before being shaped, shave it before wetting in addition to after it's dry.In the case of casual berets, this may be the only step you need to take. There are many ways to remove fuzz from your beret:
- Use a disposable razor. This is the easiest and most common method. Gently run the razor in a single direction over your beret. Make sure not to go over the same spot multiple times, as you risk wearing down the material too much.
- Carefully clip with scissors. This method is best if there are only a handful of obvious pills. Clip them off at the base, placing the scissors flush with the beret. Use cuticle scissors for the most precise control possible.
- Burn off the fuzz with a lighter. Hold the lighter in place and carefully run your beret just over the flame without touching it. Instead of "shaving" the entire cap, go over just the areas with visible fuzz. Although this method can damage your beret if done improperly, it is sometimes considered to be the traditional way to de-pill a military beret. Exercise caution when using a lighter.
Method 2 Quiz
What can happen to a beret that gets wet?
Shaping a Military Uniform Beret
Wet the beret.Soak the beret in warm water. If your beret has a flash, keep it away from the water as much as possible.
- Note: Using hot water on the black rim will shrink the beret. If your beret is slightly too large, using hot water is a good idea. If your beret already fits your head snugly, be sure to avoid hot water.
Wring out the excess water.Get rid of all the extra water you can by gently wringing out the beret. It will still be damp, but make sure there is no more dripping water.
Shape the beret.Place the damp beret on your head. Pull the beret up to make it stand. If your organization uses the standard beret shape discussed in Method 1, pull all excess fabric down on the right side of your head by folding it with your hands. Repeat this action several times, making sure the fabric on top is completely smooth.
Allow the beret to dry on your head.Doing this will keep the beret from shrinking too much and will form the beret more closely to the exact shape of your head. If necessary, you may need to hold the fold down with one hand until it becomes secure. You may take the beret off if it's still slightly damp after a few hours.
Method 3 Quiz
When should you use hot water on your beret?
QuestionDoes the beret stink after washing it with water?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerIf a person sweats in their beret, soaking it will bring out the smell of the old sweat. However, washing the beret with soap/detergent will remove any odor.Thanks!
QuestionSo I followed these steps and my beret does not hold the shape. Any ideas to make the shape stay?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerWet the beret as above, then roll the beret, starting with the right (longer) side. Squeeze the rolled beret between the fins of a warm radiator. Wait one night, and you're done. This works for French and German berets, and fits their way of wearing it.Thanks!
QuestionIs it a good idea to wear a beret in the shower to shape it?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYes. Wearing it in a hot shower is a common way to wet it thoroughly. Just make sure to wash your hair before putting it on.Thanks!
QuestionWhat is the reason of forcing the cap down on the right side. What is the logic?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerIt is traditional to have it this way.Thanks!
QuestionWhat if it shrinks? Can I unshrink it or make it a little bigger?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerThat all depends on how big you want it to become, what the material is made of, and how it was woven. The material and how it is woven can matter, as they can be loose or very thick.Thanks!
QuestionIs there any specific way other than this to get a Canadian army cadet beret for the LER to be perfectly trenched and formed?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerNo. Look around at your senior Cadets' barets. Try to copy what they do, as it is their responsibility to have it right. All barets have different trenches and shapes. Ask them what they do and how they think it's done right.Thanks!
QuestionDo gentlemen in America wear berets to formal events that are inside?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerNo. The US Army is pretty much the only area of American culture in which males typically wear berets, and they remove their headgear indoors.Thanks!
QuestionDo I need to take my badge off while shaping a beret?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYes, remove the badge.Thanks!
QuestionHow do I make my beret look nice when wearing it?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerIt depends on what occasion you choose to wear it for. If you wear it casually, then shape it to the extent you think it looks nice, but if it is for specific group reasons, then make it look as sharp and similar to theirs as possible. It all just comes down to one thing: shape it as nicely as possible.Thanks!
QuestionIs the warm water method the best way to stretch out wrinkles?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYes, in my opinion. You can also use steam and tape, but all methods require warm water. Steam is better if you have a flash since getting the flash wet can ruin it over time.Thanks!
How do I unshrink a beret?
To shape a casual beret, start by placing the beret on your head to adjust it to the right size. Then, take off the beret and cut out the inner lining with a pair of scissors. Additionally, remove any fuzz by gently running a disposable razor over the fabric in a single direction. Afterwards, soak the beret in warm water, then wring out the excess water and place it back on your head. Pull the fabric with your fingers to shape the beret, then let it dry on your head to prevent shrinking and form to the exact shape of your head.
- Be very careful not to damage the beret when shaving or wringing it.
- Always be sure to wring out excess water before putting the beret on your head.
- Do not ring your beret out! Use a towel and pat it on. Ringing it out will cause wrinkles and will also stretch it out.
- If your beret has any leather, be careful not to submerge it or get it wet. Water can damage or stain leather that has not been specifically treated against it.
- Keep in mind that not all berets are meant to be shaped by the wearer. Some berets supplied by the United States Army, for example, are recommended as dry clean only and should not be submerged.
Sources and Citations
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Video: Preparing and Shaping the Beret
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