We read with mixed emotions the news that the U.S. Army is dropping the beret from its official combat uniform after soldier complaints. On the one hand, the overall foppishness of the beret tends to cancel out the otherwise serious, assertive message of the rest of a combat uniform. But on the other, some people have actually managed to make berets look cool. We thought we'd take a look at some noteworthy beret-wearers so we can remember that the beret will still continue to have a life outside of the Army.
7. Thelonious Monk Probably the greatest argument in favor of the beret -- or at least the beret in certain hands -- was this jazz great. To be sure, the dude could've worn a freakin' babushka and made it cool. Of course, by donning a beret, Monk unwittingly caused a lot of beat "poets" to follow suit, assuming it would make them cool. But it only made them kinda douchey.
7. John Wayne in The Green Berets Fed up with unkempt rabble-rousers burning flags and waving peace signs, The Duke decided to show these ungrateful hippie bastards just how awesome war is, and just how awesome the people who fight in awesome wars are -- especially people who wore the awesome titular hat. Strangely, this did not spawn a nationwide fashion trend.
6. Linus Pauling No, he didn't win either of his two Nobel Prizes for beret-based activities, but his apparent fondness for the hat later in life signaled to budding scientists that science and flair aren't mutually exclusive.
5. Prince No, Prince Rogers Nelson didn't seem to favor berets himself, but we challenge you to come up with a more memorable song featuring a beret in the chorus. In fact, it's damn near impossible to hold any sort of conversation about berets without this song creeping into consciousness. And trust us, we've tried.
Yeah, we know -- you saw it coming. And so did she -- HEY-OH!
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3. Patty Hearst "Patty Hearst heard the burst of Roland's Thomson gun and bought it." Good enough for us.
2. Che Guevara One of the most iconic berets of all time. If it weren't for this dude, how would college freshmen know what posters to hang on the wall?
1. Sam Kinison We don't know if he made wearing a beret cool, but he certainly made it louder than hell.
Bonus: Faye Dunaway in Bonnie and Clyde Not to be messed with.