Whether known as a “knit cap,” “sock cap,” “ski hat,” “watch cap” or “burglar beanie,” the beanie is no longer associated solely with winter wear — and suddenly, this fashion accessory seems to be on every other head you see.
“The beanie is associated with several overall aesthetics that have been gaining momentum in recent seasons,” explains Whitney Kessler, accessories expert from Stylesight. “As ’90s grunge and hip-hop and skate looks have uptrended, so has the beanie.”
Different vectors of popularity apparently are responsible for getting men as well as women to embrace the beanie.
“For men, street brands like Carhartt have fueled the beanie’s prominence, and the media haven’t been a major factor,” Kessler says.
The media have, however, played a role in shaping women’s fashion sensibilities. “While women’s runways have also taken their cues from urban looks, the media have reinforced and propelled the item forward by translating it from a styling perspective for the female masses,” Kessler says. She points to “it-girls” like DKNY’s Rita Ora and Cara as showing women how to wear new, directional styles.
The many fabrics of beanies
Along with widening its fashion sphere, beanies also are being made in a variety of fabrics. Once woven mostly from thick wool, knit caps now are available in a wide range of fabrics and blends. “While wool will offer the most warmth in winter months, cotton is definitely more versatile,” Kessler advises. “Thickness and density also play parts in determining warmth — and fine textures tend to be the most seasonless.”
In terms of looks for men, they are favoring short, skull-hugging silhouettes — a style that also happens to also be the most functional for warmer months, Kessler says.
For men, especially, logos can help communicate the overall message that a guy is trying to convey. For example, Kessler says, a skate brand will strengthen the message of a skate aesthetic.
“Conversely, the spectrum of women’s aesthetics that incorporate beanies is much more diverse, and logos are only compatible with a portion of the scope,” she says. And simpler often is better. “While a logo or slogan might contribute to some looks, a plain beanie will always work.”
As for where and when to wear a beanie, the sky’s the limit.
“At this point in time, knit caps are being worn everywhere all of the time by someone,” Kessler says. “Styling a knit cap is very subjective; while many people feel most comfortable wearing them with casual, urban, and/or sporty attire, others are embracing looks that are elevated by embellishments and even veil attachments.”