Granny's first serious encounter with wearing a beret was at school. We had
a new headmistress take over our girls' secondary modern and with her came
a radically different up-to-date uniform though still not obligatory.
Out went the ugly navy-blue gym-slip and white blouse, in came a mid-green
A-line skirt, finely striped cotton shirt in red and white with simple red ribbon
twist at the collar. To top the lot, the piece de resistance, a soft-green beret
with a swinging red silk tassel at the rear and school badge on the front. Wow,
did we look smart!
Interestingly, looking back to my education in which we were streamed into A, B, or C classes, it is my impression that the 'A' streams who were apparently keener on their education, were the ones who chose to wear uniform. Other more rebellious girls turned up to class in what was deemed by the school as unsuitable attire which more than once occasioned them being sent home to change as their fashionable too-tight straight-skirts and high-heels stopped them from actually mounting the tall science-lab stools!
Certainly since leaving school nearly sixty years ago, I have never worn a felt beret though envious of those that can carry them off successfully since they radiate a certain chic associated largely with the French. Indeed, the Breton beret is well recognised and the practical appeal of similar headgear worn throughout Europe since the Middle Ages was taken up in earnest with the advent of the military tank in the First World War. Of necessity tank operatives needed close fitting hats that would keep on as they slipped through the small openings into their vehicles. Their berets were so successful that they were taken up by other armies and today, by different colours, method of shaping and badges, we are able to differentiate readily between forces and nations.
Granny only occasionally adorns herself with a hat nowadays and when she does, it is in Autumn or Winter with a knitted or crocheted one that drapes more along the softer lines of those worn in the past by Scots, painters, poets or other Bohemian types. Granny has a large choice of berets, as it is a favourite winter occupation to crochet new ones - the photo will show you exactly what I mean!