The Breton hat is styled after the hats worn by agricultural workers in Brittany, France. Fishing and agriculture have always been major industries in the French province, and these hats have come to be associated with nautical attire.
History of The Breton Style HatBreton style has always been associated with fishing and the sea. Breton sweaters were developed to protect fishermen from the cold winds offshore. Breton stripes were part of the French Naval uniform before Coco Chanel made them a civilian staple. The Breton style hat for men became popular when John Lennon wore a similar cap in the 1960s. The women’s variation experienced a revival around the same time. Fashion photographers captured women wearing the hats, and they were also worn to sailing regattas and outdoor events.
How to Wear a Breton Vintage HatThe women’s Breton is typically worn tipped toward the back of the head. When it features a larger brim, it can be seated flat on the crown. Bretons are usually made of lightweight fabrics that keep you cool in warm weather. However, a thick Breton cotton hat or womens Breton wool hat can take you into the cooler seasons.
A men’s Breton cap is often worn flat on the top of the head. The visor helps to shield your face from the sun whether you’re walking down the street or heading out on the boat. Men can wear the cap with just about anything. Although it works well with stripes, T-shirts and denim, the cap appeals to those with a steampunk vibe. The nautical hat has versatile charm that ranges from preppy to hipster.
Women have been adopting the trend of wearing men’s Breton caps. They’re usually paired with striped shirts, jeans or menswear. However, the conventional woman’s Breton can be worn with just about anything. Pair it with a sundress, slacks, jeans or a blazer. Queen Elizabeth has been known for donning a Breton from time to time, although she seems to prefer a more flat-brimmed style.
Accessorizing a BretonBecause the hat is a statement piece, you don’t need to force it to share the stage with large jewelry. Understated pieces, like pearl earrings and delicate bangles, can deliver pizzazz without overpowering an outfit. If you want to add accessories to the hat itself, you can wrap the base in a ribbon or decorate it with flowers.
Many of our hats come with detailing around the base. You can also find some with streamlined silhouettes. Your Breton can be your primary accessory all season long. Build confidence into your style whether you’re lounging by the pool, going to a sporting event or shopping around town.