The beanie is definitely one of the most polarizing items of menswear. For some, it’s a quick and effective way to change looks. For others, the unpleasant image of David Beckham’s comically oversized woolen cap that has seared into their memory since 2004 makes the idea of wearing one seriously impossible.
For those who fall into the latter camp, we understand and empathize with your beanie-related reservations. However, we would urge you to reconsider your position when choosing your next winter headwear.
For all its abuse and poor styling, the beanie is actually a very useful tool in a man’s sartorial inventory. The real problem here is that most people do not understand how to wear it. With that in mind, we’ve outlined some key ways to style this divisive breed in a hat that will give even the most ardent hater pause for thought.
Beanie Styles To Try
Some have been intentionally omitted from the list below, most of which had their heyday in the 2000s. Remember David Beckham’s oversized and loose-fitting beanie that resembled something the Seven Dwarfs would wear? Do not do this. Or Craig David-style headwear that looked like the organic leftovers of a circumcision? Don’t do that either. Instead, stick to the time-honored beanie styles below.
The classic wool beanie is worn over the ears and cuffed all the way around. You really can’t go wrong here: Choose a wearable, evergreen color and as little embellishment as possible and you can wear it with almost anything.
A chunkier, ribbed and more directional look these days, the fisherman’s hat was originally worn by men shivering on the decks of fishing trawlers and naval frigates. Today, it is worn by workwear-savvy urbanites slightly smaller than the regular beanie. Still clipped, it usually sits slightly above the ears.
the bobble hat
If it works for McCauley Culkin, it works for us. The bobble hat may have a slightly juvenile connotation but it originated in the military and works well in the depths of winter. Avoid excessive celebration or novelty (there’s one rule for life) and look for cable-knit styles, subtle Fair Isle designs, or something plain.
The right beanie for your face shape
The natural, dome-like shape of a beanie can emphasize your jawline and the general shape of your face, so it’s important to choose the right style. If your face is round, a beanie may not be the best style for you, although ribbed designs and bobble hats will give the impression of length. Similarly, if you have long or narrow features, a chunkier style with larger cuffs will add a bit of width and proportion.
9 Stylish Ways to Wear a Beanie
At its core, the beanie is a casual accessory. So it’s no surprise that one of the easiest ways to style it is as part of a casual outfit. Paired with off-duty staples like hoodies, jeans, t-shirts and cool outerwear, this wool warmer really comes into its own.
The first thing to consider is the cap itself. Generally speaking, shorter styles are the best way to go. A mini roll beanie that sits about halfway down the ears is a safe bet. In terms of color, a lot will depend on the rest of your outfit. Think navy, charcoal or black for maximum versatility, perhaps in a chunky wool to add a dash of interest. This isn’t to say that anything brighter is out of the question, just make sure the organization doesn’t have something more vibrant fighting for it’s attention.
Heading further south, stick to casual outerwear staples like bomber jackets, parkas and overshirts, paired with weekend-friendly legwear. For footwear, choose something relaxed and suede – a chukka boot would work well – or canvas and minimal.
If you’re forced to stock your entire wardrobe with apparel from a single sub-genre of menswear, there are far worse choices to make than workwear. Rugged, versatile, timeless and comfortable, we could wax lyrical about its virtues all day long.
As luck would have it, beanies just happen to be an integral part of this aesthete’s winter lineup. The key style to consider here is the fisherman hat; An undersized variation with a single roll that sits just above the ears. It’s a classic piece of workwear headgear and a great alternative if you’ve decided traditional beanies aren’t for you. Stick to dark colors and make sure the knit is thin enough that it doesn’t force your ears to stick out. (Never looks good.)
In terms of outfit, here are three words: overshirt, jeans, boots. These pieces are the three cornerstones of workwear and can be said over and over again, season after season. Again, keep colors generally dark, but don’t be afraid to go for a bold block-color as far as the overshirt is concerned. Royal blue is the classic choice.
Not too long ago when any kind of beanie was worn sewing would have been unimaginable. However, in recent years, we have seen that it can be done in a stylish way. See the sartorial stylings of bus male model Richard Biddull for evidence.
The trick here is to keep things on the relaxed side of smart and use a beanie to dress things down even more. However, this is not the time for vibrant colors, so keep the headwear subtle and in neutral tones. grey, navy or black if you want to play it safe; For something more seasonally relevant, go for burnt orange, burgundy or brown.
Mix and match smart staples such as dress trousers and black leather boots with casual cold weather essentials such as roll neck jumpers and knitted polos. Layer with some smart outerwear – something like a wool overcoat – and use a headwear to bring the look together.
There comes a point every year when wearing some sort of warming headwear becomes unavoidable. For many, this means reluctantly enjoying unsightly wool-lined teacups during the morning commute. Style just doesn’t come into it. However, the way we look at it is, if you have to wear it, it might as well look good.
Ditch the ill-fitting woolen hat and opt for something more streamlined instead. For maximum warmth and comfort, look for options made from merino wool, or even cashmere blends if you’re willing to pay a little more. In terms of color, stick to a winter theme. This means dark, neutral, blue or earthy autumn tones.
Team the beanie with a true winter coat of heavy-gauge knitwear, seasonally-appropriate legwear and some sturdy boots for best results.
knits and textures
One of the pillars of mastering texture is good dressing. Tactile fabrics can add depth, create a subtle focal point and really take a look to the next level. Headwear can also play a role in this. Start thinking of it as a fully integrated part of your outfit, as opposed to something that just pops on top.
Opt for a ribbed beanie for maximum texture and go for a color that really allows the fabric to speak for itself. Light colors like gray and cream work well for this, but darker shades of wool work well too.
Use pieces with other textures to enhance each other. A chunky knit sweater will match the hat, while a wool, suede or shearling outerwear creates contrast within the look. Textured wool trousers are a winter favorite and look great with anything from derby shoes to luxe sneakers.
There are endless ways to style the beanie with hip hop inspired outfits, sportswear or designer streetwear. You’ll find more color and clear branding at this end of the market, but simple black beanies also work to anchor a look with oversized outerwear, big prints or statement hues at the bottom of the neck.
The reverse is also true. Wear a bold beanie with a simple black hoodie or puffer jacket. Of course, this is no-holds-barred menswear so clashing patterns and colors can work too.
Cold mornings on the way to work are another time when a beanie is a practical necessity, not just a stylish accessory. They work well with modern officewear, whether your workplace is smart or casual. Just pair your headgear with your outerwear. A fisherman style works best with core jackets, truckers and duffle coats, while a simple beanie is better suited for one. Overcoat or puff.
If you wear headphones on your way to work, make sure your hat fits snugly over them or vice versa.
the great outdoors
Hiking gear has completely infiltrated everyday menswear and it doesn’t feel like packing up your tent anytime soon. With fleece tops, trail shoes, and technical rain jackets all in regular rotation, adding a beanie is an authentic way to top off the look.
How you specialize here will depend on whether you spend your weekend yonging in the woods or dog-walking around the local mango grove. If it’s the former, look for elastic linings and fleece linings to keep the worst elements at bay. If it’s the former, there aren’t too many rules of thumb: as long as the colors match, you can get away with more colors, patterns, and branding.
with a suit
OK, this view is probably as divisive as Brexit itself and there may be more skeptics than advocates. But these days the traditional rules of tailoring are being flouted somewhere in the air. We believe there are two ways to wear a beanie with a suit.
You can go tonal by pairing something like an off-white hat with a gray suit, or a navy suit with a hat in a different shade of blue. Alternatively, there’s the peacock option where you wear the beanie as a pop of color (yellow, orange, green) to offset the formality of a suit or separates. In any case, choose a slightly thicker material for the hat.
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