The Ultimate Guide To Wearing Your Beret

The beret remains an unusually complicated piece of equipment, given it’s essentially a leather-rimmed bag of coloured wool felt.

Originally pressed into service for the British military by the Royal Tank Regiment in 1924, beret use has grown substantially since then, and so has the variety of ways in which they are worn.

The beret remains an unusually complicated piece of equipment, given it’s essentially a leather-rimmed bag of coloured wool felt.

We examine the headgear's history alongside the many forms it has taken atop heads in the British Armed Forces. 

The Royal Scots Dragoon Guards, Scottish & North Irish Yeomanry

Today the Regiment still wear the grey beret as a tribute to "those terrible men on grey horses", as described by Napolean Bonaparte.

Staff Sergeant Gary Reiley was on-hand to provide a demonstration for the camera on correct beret shaping/ form, and was filmed before the Scottish and North Irish Yeomanry adopted the same grey beret as their paired regular Regiment, the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards.

Royal Marines:

Official guidance from the Royal Navy on the beret explains the headpiece "shall be worn evenly on the head, with the sweatband 2.5 cm above the eyebrows, the badge centred over the left eye, and the crown pulled downward to the right.

The break of the sweatband shall be worn centred at the back of the head, with no drawstrings visible."

Royal Air Force:

The advice from the Recruit Training Squadron at RAF Halton is similar to that of the Royal Marines with the black band of the beret following the form, sitting 2.5 cm point above the eyebrows.

All "surplus material must be pulled down over the right ear and the badge clearly displayed in a position directly above the left eye.

The adjustment ribbon is to be secured with a knot and the surplus ends hidden from sight."

Royal Tank Regiment:

When the beret was introduced in late 1924, officers wearing it discovered to their general horror that the tank appeared to be retreating over the left ear.

As officers bought their own badges the matter was soon put right for them by reversing the direction of the tank.

It took a great deal of argument by the Colonel Commandant to get the other ranks badge changed by the time of the general introduction of the beret in May 1925. 

The Parachute Regiment:

The maroon beret has been an international symbol of elite airborne forces since it was chosen for British airborne forces in World War II.

This distinctive head dress was officially introduced in 1942, at the direction of General Frederick Browning, commander of 

the British 1st Airborne Division. The colour of the beret was reportedly chosen by his wife, the novelist Daphne du Maurier. 

Corporal Lee Hewitson: "The maroon machine. It's earned, not issued."

Below, an excerpt from Forces TV's PARA Platoon where the recruits were shown how to shape their beret and allowed to don the lid for the first time.

Royal Gurkha Rifles:

Official guidance from the Royal Gurkha Rifles was difficult to come by.

The regiment declined the opportunity to film due to contesting opinions from top brass on "correct beret form".

The beret remains a contested, curious and personal part of the military uniform, with countless military threads and forums debating how to shape a beret correctly.

Whatever the best or worst form may be, what is for certain is the argument will rage on and on for many years to come...

How do you wear your beret? Comment below and send us your pictures...