Want to buy or sell something? Check the classifieds

Berets, Anyone?

PADDY

I'll Lock Up
Bartender
Messages
7,425
Location
METROPOLIS OF EUROPA
...

[huh] My attempt to wear a beret and stay awake at the same time!

Army2.jpg
 

cooncatbob

Practically Family
Messages
612
Location
Carmichael, CA.
NonEntity: Turns out the Beret that my friend got for me in Paris isn't a Hoquy.
The label on the crown says "Vrai Basque. The label on the Basque beret is sewn to the liner, the Hoquy is glued down. The faux leather band in the Hoquy is flat sewn like in a fedora. The band in the Basque beret was wrapped like the red military beret but without a draw string.
Does anyone know who could make a new leather band for my Basque beret?
Lisa the coworker who gave it to me has passed away, she was the person who hired me and we worked together for 21 years.
2223807912_f93b42b3e2.jpg

2223807956_3386c66de6.jpg

2223017295_08eee24779.jpg
 

D.W. Suratt

One of the Regulars
Messages
183
Location
South Carolina
mtds said:
Thanks, RockBottom. I winced when I read the reference to the Special Forces and berets to the Marines. I vividly remember the reaction within the Marine community when the Army changed their uniform to include berets. Ouch. Otherwise, an informative and interesting article, even for this cap wearer.


At one time the Marines did consider wearing berets, but the idea was nixed because it was felt that the look was to foreign. I was in the army pre, and post beret. Like I said I always thought the special forces guys look alright in them, but as an average grunt(11b Infantryman) I never took to them. It was basicly a PR move buy the army for recruiting purposes.
 

RockBottom

One of the Regulars
Messages
178
Location
Carlisle, PA
D.W. Suratt said:
At one time the Marines did consider wearing berets, but the idea was nixed because it was felt that the look was to foreign. I was in the army pre, and post beret. Like I said I always thought the special forces guys look alright in them, but as an average grunt(11b Infantryman) I never took to them. It was basicly a PR move buy the army for recruiting purposes.

Shinseki thought it would help his broader effort to change the institutional culture from heavy/conventional to light/expeditionary.

And, of course, some airborne units were using red ones in the additon to the SF green ones.
 

NonEntity

Suspended
Messages
281
Location
Southeastern U.S.
cooncatbob said:
NonEntity: Turns out the Beret that my friend got for me in Paris isn't a Hoquy.
The label on the crown says "Vrai Basque. The label on the Basque beret is sewn to the liner, the Hoquy is glued down. The faux leather band in the Hoquy is flat sewn like in a fedora. The band in the Basque beret was wrapped like the red military beret but without a draw string.
Does anyone know who could make a new leather band for my Basque beret?
Lisa the coworker who gave it to me has passed away, she was the person who hired me and we worked together for 21 years.
2223807912_f93b42b3e2.jpg

2223807956_3386c66de6.jpg

2223017295_08eee24779.jpg

Yes, the Hoquy on the left is, as I said before, its Deluxe model, second from the top of the line.

You do not provide any information on the red beret on the right, and the photo is too small for me to read the label, but it is a typical military-style beret.

The "Vrai Basque" in the center is not a name I recognize, but many if not most Basque-region berets are labelled with hundreds of different names. The Basque beret is not a product in which you can look at its brand name--Hoquy, Jaxson, Borsalino being the big ones--and draw any conclusions about its quality. The purpose of my Beret Clinic, which I plan to continue when I have the time, is to educate folks on what to look for to evaluate quality.

Anyway, depite the label and that it probably was made in the Basque region, this Vrai is definitely not a Basque-style beret. It is what I would call a civilian version of a military-style beret. Civilian because it's satin-lined, has the ornate label, and is in a specific size (as opposed to military-issue which are all the same size with the ribbon to adjust to the fit). Military because the sweatband is leather piping surrounding the edge; that's essentially what makes a military-style beret a military-style beret, once the stiff piece of cardboard inside to hold up an insignia has been removed.

The leather sweatband piping on a military-style beret is not of the finest leather, flexes a lot, and is right up against the perspiration on your head. So, it should come as no surprise that it breaks down and that yours crumbled when you had it dry-cleaned. Even so, there's a lesson there: NEVER take anything with leather in or on it to a dry cleaner that does not have a leather specialist certification, which should be displayed where his licenses and such stuff are. To prevent rot, you can periodically treat the leather with Pecard's Leather Dressing, but that won't help you now.

From a purely rational perpective, it would make no sense to have new piping stitched on because that's going to certainly cost more than a new, similar beret. Last time I looked at www.tamberet.com, it had the Montgomery Beret on sale for $14.95. But, of course, your beret has sentimental value. Since this is a first for me, I'm sorry I cannot recommend anyone by name to do the work. I would try a cobbler, as they have the skills and the tools, but you'd probably have to furnish your own leather, though, maybe from Tandy Leather Co.

I apologize for saying the Green Berets were Marines instead of Army. I know that. It was late and I was very tired when I typed that.

I see that no one has done the homework.

Am I going to have to get the "board of education" down off the wall and paddle you people. Oh, I see that some of you might actually enjoy that. All right, for you, your punishment will be no paddling!
 

skbellis

One of the Regulars
Messages
207
Location
DeKalb, IL
Super Lujo

"3. The "Super Lujo" beret is often offered in combination with what two other proper names that begin with "E." What are they, and how would you evaluate the quality of this beret?"

I own several military berets (since I do WW2 British reenacting), but the only Civilian type beret I own is the aforementioned Super Lujo. I have to admit that I really don't know much about berets, but I did alot of searching on the web before I purchased this one ( http://www.basquemarket.com/newcat_i814585.html?catId=33531 ) . I am very happy with the quality. The wool is very nice and it is very weather resistant.

Is this an acceptable Basque beret??

Cheers,

---Scott
 

Edward

Bartender
Messages
23,426
Location
London, UK
It's a form of headgear I was always slightly wary of - given a] a notion it'd look stupid on me (think Frank Spencer rather than hepcat), and b] the various military and para military connotations it might have. Growing up in Northern Ireland, b] in particular could easily have been the fast track to a damn good hiding. ;) I do have a black military beret I picked up about four years ago - once in a blue moon I'll wear it around the house. It still has the red star on it that I put on it when I bought it. I don't think I have any photos, but it was purchased for a 'colours of the rainbow' theme birthday party I went to dressed as che Guevara ("Red" - geddit?).
 

NonEntity

Suspended
Messages
281
Location
Southeastern U.S.
skbellis said:
"3. The "Super Lujo" beret is often offered in combination with what two other proper names that begin with "E." What are they, and how would you evaluate the quality of this beret?"

I own several military berets (since I do WW2 British reenacting), but the only Civilian type beret I own is the aforementioned Super Lujo. I have to admit that I really don't know much about berets, but I did alot of searching on the web before I purchased this one ( http://www.basquemarket.com/newcat_i814585.html?catId=33531 ) . I am very happy with the quality. The wool is very nice and it is very weather resistant.

Is this an acceptable Basque beret??

Cheers,

---Scott

Your beret is not just acceptble, but is among the very best. The felt is extremely dense, and has a Teflon coating that makes it truly waterproof. The black leather sweatband is very nicely made and attached, and the red ribbon that runs through it adds an appealing flourish. Note that this beret's label is sewn into the lining; as mentioned in the Clinic, that's always a sign of high quality. At $37.00 plus S & H from Basque Market, it is a very good buy, as well, though it was just $29.95 until recently

But before folks run to get the Super Lujo, it has features that may nix it for some. It is available only in black; that's why I did not get it. Also, BM stocks it only in 7 1/4, 7 3/8, 7 1/2, and 7 5/8. You can request a smaller or larger size (call 800-766-0409), but that means BM has to special-oder it from France, and that translates into a very long wait. BM is the only vendor that I know of that sells this beret in the U.S. If anyone knows of another vendor that offers it, please let us know who and the price.

The most significant possible downside is the Super Lujo's wide diameter, which may not look right on certain people. I'm not sure, but I think it's 11 1/2 inches. It's possible you could special-order a narrower one, but that's pure speculation. Scott, would you please measure the diameter of yours and report back?

You did not take a stab at answering Clinic homework question no. 3, but you had the answer right there on the BM web page for which you provided a link. One "E" is for Elosegui, the name of the 150-year-old factory in Tolosa where the Super Lujo is made. The other "E" is for Euskal Herria, the brand name on the label.

I'll go ahead and answer the other homework questions.

1. Berets may be fully, partially, or un-lined. Which is best and why? How do these three categories of lining track with overall quality?

Linings, in and of themselves, are neither good nor bad. It's a matter of personal preference. One might desire an unlined beret because it is cooler, easy to clean, and if dropped in the ocean, can be squeezed out and good to go with no damage whatsoever. Someone else may want a lining to make it somewhat warmer and like the finished appearance. BUT, partial or full linings tend to be found on the better-quality berets, though they are no guarantee of it.

2. Borsalino berets indicate they are made in France. Where? How would you assess their quality?

The name Borsalino equates, in the minds of many, with the highest quality. However, Borsa does not make its own berets. They are outsourced to a manufacturer and made per Borsa's specs. There are only two factories in the Basque region making berets. One is the Elosegui, the oldest and dating back to 1858, in Tolosa, and the other is the Pierre Laul. part of BEATX Co., in Oloron St. Marie, the "manufacturing capital." So that answers part of the Bonus Question.

I have not been able to confirm that the Borsalinos are made at one of these two plants, but assume that they are, since they're the only two in the Basque region, and they are Basque-style berets. It's possible that they are made in a factory in another part of France, however. If anyone knows, please speak up.

Borsa quality? Well, that's a matter of personal taste, because they are quite different. Available in a wide array of colors, the felt is relatively dense but rather thin and quite soft; the sweatband is a very, very thin, almost delicate leather like I've seen on no other and is very comfortable; it features a full satin lining, with, of course, the Borsalino name. It's a wide diameter, which combined with the thinness and softness, gives it a floppy appearance. Myself, I'd give it a "B" for quality, but I do not personally like the looks of it on me.

The last part of the Bonus Question, "What is the quality of the berets being made at these two plants?" is kind of a trick question. The answer is that the quality is all over the place. These factories make berets according to the specifications dictated by someone else, which range from feather-light hats that you can see daylight through with no sweatband at all, to the Super Lujo and equivalents.

Vendors either have the plants put in the label or glue their own in later, and then sell them under hundreds of names worldwide. This is the very thing that makes selecting a beret sight-unseen so difficult--the name is usually meaningless, and even when it's a familiar one like Hoquy or Jaxon, since they have so many quality levels in their lines, the brand name signifies little.

However, the most recognized name in berets, Kangol, which no longer makes them in England or France, sells several models that are very consistent in quality. Neither the fine beret it once was nor garbage, Kangol offers a middle-of-the road product in almost any color in the rainbow. They're not great and they're not awful, but they are predictable.

Hopefully, this Clinic, which I plan to continue, combined with input from others here, will lessen the difficulty in buying a beret that meets your expectations.
 

leo

One of the Regulars
Messages
106
Location
OH & DC
Thanks for the beret clinic. My only beret is packed away somewhere in the garage because I discovered years ago that my wearing it could cause an unfortunate international incident.

Celebrity beret factoid: Adam on Mythbusters seems to get high praise by FLers because of his good taste in hats: Akubra, etc. His partner, Jamie, always wears a beret. They did a special show about where they get all their "stuff" and it was revealed that Jamie buys his berets in a local surplus store. When Adam razzed him about it, Jamie shot right back that there was no way he would ever wear one of "those things", referring to Adam's Indys/fedoras, etc.

My wife heard me laughing from two rooms away. ;)

Bill
 

NonEntity

Suspended
Messages
281
Location
Southeastern U.S.
That's an exquisite English-made Kangol Anglo-Basque beret you have there, Vintage Betty, and you wear it well. It appears to be in superb condition, and I would consider it a collector's item. A few questions not revealed by the pics, if you please:

How is the label attached to the lining--sewn, glued, or is the writing on the lining itself?

What color is it, black, navy, or dark brown?

When and where did you get it, and how much did you pay?

Do you--or anyone here, for that matter--know approximately when it was manufactured?

I have been searching for other top-quality berets other than the Super Lujo, and I think I found one, but I saved the web site address in my favorites under another screen name, so I'll have to go there to fetch it and post it here later.

Now, I would be delighted if anyone could furnish any info or even speculate about my favorite beret, which was my mother's, of all things, and I've never seen another quite like it. I don't have photos, but here is a detailed description:

Exterior - Thick, dense wool felt. 10 3/8 inch diameter. Midnight navy color. There is no top knot, but there is an ever-so-slightly thicker, barely detectable little spot in the center of the crown. My mother says the beret never had a top knot, but it's possible it once had one and was cut off before it came into her possession. Then again, it may have never had a top knot, and the tiny lump could be a vestige of the manufacturing process.

Interior - Unlined. Sweatband: none whatsoever, and that's the most interesting thing about it. The felt is folded under and "welded" back into itself, making for a seamless edge without any stitching--sort of a Cavanagh edge, to borrow from the world of fur felt fedoras. Stamped into the top center of the crown in white lettering is the following:

Barets Knitted C.D. 18
BERET INDUSTRIES LTD.
1953
(symbol resembling an up-pointed arrow or Christmas tree)​

No, that "a" in the "Barets" on the top line is not a typo, but since the first part of the next word is worn, I'm not certain it's "Knitted," but that's the only word I've been able to piece together that fits with what's still legible.

At 55 years old, the beret is still in perfect condition, and will probably last practically forever, as there is nothing--lining, sweatband, ribbon, or stitching--to tear or decompose.

Any ideas?
 

Trotsky

A-List Customer
Messages
422
I have so many berets:

My WWII British SAS in both a tasteful maroon and sand coloured.

French Foreign Legion, x 2

German, Israeli, Swiss, you name it, most with insignia. The British are the ones who really started the beret=elite forces connotation thanks to the Paras getting them.

Fun fact: the Paras disliked the damn things at first, thought them far to "French" and if you look at some early photos of the Paras in the war you'll see a wide range of headgear as the lads kept their parent units badges.

BTW, the German early war armored troops beret was really a disguised crash helmet. I have a more modern West German copy. THATs why they look all Pilsbury-ish.
 

NonEntity

Suspended
Messages
281
Location
Southeastern U.S.
Very interesting, Trotsky. You are a true collector of military berets. Would love to see some pics; if not, for our education, please describe some of them in detail.

I got the web site promised above, http://voyage123.com/realsw/tresors/berets.htm. It's a U.K. registered company operating out of southwest France. Methinks the folks running the site are not particularly fluent in English, as some of the language there is downright hilarious.

From the description, these Basque-style berets appear to be of the finest quality. The Bakarra Excellence has a partial lining, and the Sancho a full lining, but they are otherwise the same, constructed of dense wool with a genuine leather sweatband. Note that they are offered in 10-, 10 1/2-, and 11-inch diameters, a very good thing.

However, the single, exterior photo stinks, so there's no pic or even description of either the lining or the label, and nowhere does the site say just what color the beret is, though it appears black or dark navy. They say these berets are made in the Bearn region--a rock's throw from the Basque region--so that would have to be the Blancq Olibet factory, but for you who were paying attention in the above Clinic, that means nothing.

The price for these berets is very high. The Sancho, including uninsured shipping to the U.S., translates at the current Euro conversation rate into about $66. Though that's almost double the price of the Super Lujo from Basque Market, unlike it, they are available in three, smaller diameters. In the big picture, that's still not a lot of money, and they may very well be worth it. They say each beret is made to order, which means it takes about a month to get one.

Personally, I need more information and so contacted 123Voyage through its site for specifics two weeks ago but have yet to hear back. I'll keep you posted when and if I do.
 

NonEntity

Suspended
Messages
281
Location
Southeastern U.S.
D.W.,

I know you hate wearing berets, but if you re-up, well, they go with the job.

As a soldier's headgear, from a purely practical standpoint, berets are a mixed bag. On the up side, they are warm in cool to moderately cold weather, virtually waterproof, and can be cinched up tight with the ribbon to prevent them from blowing off. On the down side, they are uncomfortably hot in weather from room temperature on up. And, since they have no bill, there's nothing to keep rain off your face and and out of your eyes, as well as nothing to shade the eyes when spotting targets or firing a rifle.

Now, remember, I like berets, but when the U.S. Army switched to them for its regular enlisted soldiers, I did not like that move at all. Nothing against you "grunts," but the beret was a strong and readily identifiable symbol of special, AKA "elite" military forces, and I know many of them objected to the move to berets for all, even if they were of a different color and insignia.

As someone mentioned above, it appears the switch was to increase recruitment. The Army figured the beret, with its elite association, would have a halo effect and draw in more folks to join up. The switch may have had just the opposite effect, as many associate the beret with the left--jazz musicians, Che Guevara, beatniks and hippies, artists and film directors. Of course, many other nations' regular armed forces and U.N. troops wear the beret these days, so it could also be a get-on-the-bandwagon type of thing.

It would be great if someone would post some pics of the exterior and interior of the current black Army-issue beret. By the way, does anyone know who manufactures the U.S.-issue military berets? Please don't tell me they're made in China!
 

RockBottom

One of the Regulars
Messages
178
Location
Carlisle, PA
NonEntity said:
D.W.,

I know you hate wearing berets, but if you re-up, well, they go with the job.

As a soldier's headgear, from a purely practical standpoint, berets are a mixed bag. On the up side, they are warm in cool to moderately cold weather, virtually waterproof, and can be cinched up tight with the ribbon to prevent them from blowing off. On the down side, they are uncomfortably hot in weather from room temperature on up. And, since they have no bill, there's nothing to keep rain off your face and and out of your eyes, as well as nothing to shade the eyes when spotting targets or firing a rifle.

Now, remember, I like berets, but when the U.S. Army switched to them for its regular enlisted soldiers, I did not like that move at all. Nothing against you "grunts," but the beret was a strong and readily identifiable symbol of special, AKA "elite" military forces, and I know many of them objected to the move to berets for all, even if they were of a different color and insignia.

As someone mentioned above, it appears the switch was to increase recruitment. The Army figured the beret, with its elite association, would have a halo effect and draw in more folks to join up. The switch may have had just the opposite effect, as many associate the beret with the left--jazz musicians, Che Guevara, beatniks and hippies, artists and film directors. Of course, many other nations' regular armed forces and U.N. troops wear the beret these days, so it could also be a get-on-the-bandwagon type of thing.

It would be great if someone would post some pics of the exterior and interior of the current black Army-issue beret. By the way, does anyone know who manufactures the U.S.-issue military berets? Please don't tell me they're made in China!

Two lieutenant colonels work for me. I'll grab one and check theirs out.
 

MagistrateChris

One of the Regulars
Messages
127
Location
Central Ohio
Part of the uproar about the general issue beret in the Army was the choice of the black beret, which had previously been designated as headgear for Rangers. That's how mine was issued to me. Dark green was for the SF boys. Maroon/red to the 82nd Airborne. I believe in the past, the 101st Airborne (Air Assault) had its own beret as well. By making the blak beret general issue, it seemed to diminish the value of that issued to the Rangers over the years. The tan/khaki beret currently issued to Rangers gives them back their identity, but at the cost of their history.

I recall reading once upon a time that Navy SEALs issued a beret. Anyone know if that's accurate?

By the way, my beret is on a shelf with numerous other items of my personal history. Purely decorative, not worn any longer. Doesn't fit anymore, as I don't wear a high and tight haircut.
 
Top