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Beanies Through the Decades – A History of the Humble Beanie

Beanies: A Hat With a History

Hats of all kinds have been around throughout history, usually as an absolute necessity to stay warm and protect our heads from the elements. It’s by chance that even though we devised modern ways to keep warm, hats remained a fashion statement, even though there are plenty of other ways to keep warm. And one of the most long-lived styles that has survived even today is the beanie. Though the beanie is decades old, it is still considered a hip fashion item.

HUES BOA knew we wanted a beanie in our line because the style is versatile with loads of looks, and they’re universally loved.

What is a Beanie:

A beanie is just a knit hat that doesn’t have a brim and fits snugly on the head. They can be cuffed or not, and they go by other names, like skullcaps, ski hats, knit caps, or even stocking hats. In the past, they might have been called a calot, a toque, or a dinky. It’s hard to recall any other hat with so many different names for the same style!

But as versatile as the names it’s been known for is the style a beanie can represent. Beanies appear in all fashion lines, from runway to sportswear; influencers, models, and celebrities wear them. So we know beanies are everywhere, but where did beanies come from? And how did they weave their way into our list of classic must-have pieces, like the denim jacket and the white t-shirt?

You can purchase the HUES BOA BLACK LABEL BEANIE here.

The First Beanies: Made to Warm Heads

History tells us that these tight-fitting hats probably go back to the 12th century. But the hat closest to the modern-day beanie appeared in the 1500s in Monmouth, Wales, where a close-fitting knit hat became popular. For years, it was even called the Monmouth hat.

Fast forward to the early 1900s, beanies showed up in the US. Workers found them helpful in covering their heads outside and protecting their hair from dust and dirt. Often, they were worn by coal miners or factory workers. And beanies are not the first fashion statement rooted in the industrial era! [link to hoodie article] They were also popular in the U.S. Navy and worn by workers on submarines and ships.

Beatniks and Beanies Through the Decades of the 1950s and ‘60s

After a few decades as a staple of working wear, the beanie fell out of favor. But, like most trends, they pop up again at some point. The beanie came back around the 1960s when a different group took the beanie and made it hip again. Beatniks started wearing these to symbolize rebellion against more formal headwear, like formal top hats. Instead of an industrial symbol, beanies started to take on a vibe, a token of a bohemian individual mixing their own style as they mixed their poetry beats.

So, although beanies weren’t mainstream then, they were still players in the alternative world, symbolizing cool. You also started to see a little more decor on beanies instead of being solid black or navy. Embellishments, like geometric patterns or pom poms, were a way to customize them with personal flair.

Beanies In the Punk Music Decade

 

The headwear continued in the 1970s and blew up a bit, thanks to the punk rock scene. The Ramones and their fans wore them, so they quickly became a symbol of the anti-establishment. They were worn slouchy, with a low profile, meant to stand out against mainstream, clean-shaven hairstyles and tight fits of tailored clothing.

Youth would show they were one of the cool kids by wearing a leather jacket and a beanie with pins and patches or often provocative sayings or images that rebelled against the status quo (hello, our HUES BOA beanie?) Skaters and sports fans wore beanies, too, adopting their own take on the punk aesthetic.

How the Beanie Fit In the 1990s

 

Through the decades of the 1990s, beanies had a total resurgence, riding the wave of skater and hip-hop cultures. The grunge scene was blowing up, with Kurt Cobain as the ringleader, and his beanie style became the ultimate accessory.  Rocking a beanie was like having an instant pass to the underground cool crew, keeping that edgy vibe alive and well. 

Beanies found their spot in the Golden Age of Hip-hop, as artists like Snoop Dog, Kanye, and Eminem wore them, and they gained cred as an accessory on the broader music scene.  By this time, there were varieties, too, like cuffed or super loose and slouchy styles and distressed or ripped beanies.

Beanies Through the Decades To Now

 

Currently, wearing a beanie can be its own fashion statement, or it can be a simple accessory for warmth while hiking or snowboarding. The thing about the beanie is that throughout the decades, this headwear has reinvented itself over and over. HUES (Heave Utilizes Every Shade) sees the beanie as a key piece of our brand. Our custom black satin label is a staple. And we think it might prompt people to ask what the HUES logo stands for.

People of all ages, from kids to grandparents who were kids during the Beatnik era, see a beanie as part of their outfit. The style and color choices are infinite. Beanies have evolved from working class to subculture, to punk, to skater, to hip-hop, to an accessory for anyone, at any price level– which tells you a lot about social change and how fashion can be a signal.

 

Beanies transcend generations, embraced by people of all ages, from the youngest kids to grandparents who once reveled in the Beatnik era. It’s more than an accessory; it’s a piece that has evolved seamlessly through environments and styles. From its roots in the working class to stints in subcultures, punk, skater, and hip-hop scenes, the beanie has emerged as a fashion chameleon accessible to all, regardless of price point.

 

This evolution is a testament to the profound impact of social change through clothing, illustrating how fashion always serves as a powerful signal reflecting the dynamic shifts in our cultural landscape. We’d say that echoes what we are about at HUES BOA, too, as we want our clothing and message to bring about a shift toward unity in our culture and our world.

You can purchase the HUES BOA BLACK LABEL BEANIE here.

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