Does wearing a beret make me a poser? It's a question I've asked myself over the last few months as I've stood in front of my mirror putting one on, adjusting it, and taking it off again. For French women, a beret is a piece that's so tied to the typical "French-girl style" that it can feel cliché. But after a prominent feature on the Dior runway last spring, it's become the must-have Instagram accessory.
My personal connection to berets is far away from trendy. My dad has worn them since I was a child, pulling them firmly down over his ears in a way that no one (seriously, no one) would consider fashion forward. Is that where my own beret insecurities stem from? I can't say exactly. But there's something about the beret that intimidates me and makes me feel inauthentic.
Curious to know how French women feel about the current cultural obsession with berets, I decided to, well, ask. "In Paris, girls don't wear them that often," notes Adeline Rapon, a jeweller and current resident of the city. "But I can see them worn tilted on the side, or like a simple hat or in a '90s way." New York–based founder of Passerbuys, Clémence Polès agrees, adding, "I could see some of my Parisian girlfriends wearing a less conventional beret (for example Jacquemus) that is more removed from the aesthetics of the Frenchman."
The secret, according to other trendsetting French women, is finding ways to wear them that feel fresh. "We just try to not be too cliché," notes Anne-Laure Mais of Adenorah. Who What Wear's own resident columnist on all things Parisian, Sabina Socol, writes, "To me, wearing a beret is a question of timing. Now that we've seen (and loved) it during fashion week, we might be tempted to give it a try."
So it seems that no matter where you hail from, the key to wearing a beret is simply acknowledging the cliché and moving on. "See it more like a striped shirt," Polès says. "Do you feel like a poser when wearing one?" Her recommendation is to try tilting it or otherwise styling it in a nontraditional way. "Don't care about looking like a poser," Rapon assures. "You should just wear it like you feel it."
The bottom line? If you (like me) have been struggling to know if you can pull it off, the answer is yes, and you should wear it with confidence.