Black Berets were first adopted by the British Royal Tank Regiment during the First World War because they were far more practical than other military headwear in the cramped and dirty interiors of tanks. Soon, other regiments adopted berets—usually selecting a unique colour to differentiate themselves. In the modern Australian Army, for example, tankers wear black berets; infantry ‘Rifle Green’; commandos ‘Sherwood Green’; military police red and paratroopers, maroon. International Peacekeepers wear the famous ‘United Nations Blue’ beret.
Berets became a worldwide mass-fashion item from the 1920s onwards and have come in and out of vogue ever since. Famous beret fans include Pablo Picasso, Jean Paul Satre, Che Guevara, Brigitte Bardot, Beyonce, and (fictional character) Ferris Bueller.
Reviewed 15 November 2023