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The beret has been around for centuries, and has been linked with a plethora of different types of people, countries and identities.1 It’s a hat with an interesting background, which is vital in understanding the importance of the beret in the BPP uniform. According to Dis Magazine archaeologists found traces of hats similar to the beret inside Bronze Age (3200-600 B.C.) tombs in Italy and Denmark, as well as depicted in sculptures and paintings across Western Europe.2  However, at the time, it was not known as a beret, but rather as a felt hat.  In the 15-1600s, the felt hat became a favourite among the poorest classes.3 Perhaps this was because of how cheap the felt fabric was, causing the accessory to be easily accessible. Jumping to the 1800s, finally the beret gains its name, and begins to hold a more political role, first appearing in Spain during the Second Carlist War.4 This is when Tomas Zumalacarregui, a leader of the Carlists appeared wearing a red beret, beginning a long line of revolutionaries and militarized persons, however the black beret remained a symbol for the poor across most of Europe.5 Finally, in the 1900s the black beret became more noticeable as a fashion statement for women.6  Artists, poets and actors were seen wearing black berets, adding a chicness and popularity to spark behind the hat. It continued to act as a fashion statement even through the 1940s and 50s, where it was adapted as a World War II staple.7 Perhaps this was because of its universal appeal.  It was cheap, and easily mass produced. In the 1960s, the beret finally took off as a very political item of clothing.  It was a signature of men like Che Guevara and Fidel Castro, two of Cuba’s most influential political revolutionaries, who wore black berets as they gave speeches and rallied for supporters to rise against the Batista government in Cuba.8 By the late 1960s and early 1970s, the BPP finally formed, taking the black beret for their own. The beret, with the other aforementioned elements “further symbolized their position as soldiers on the frontline. Yes, there were functional and political reasons for the way the Panthers dressed, but style was also part of the equation.”9  The beret continued to be adapted by others, very heavily in fashion, being worn by Monica Lewinsky in 1990 while meeting President Bill Clinton, and multiple times across the runway.10  From 2010 to now the two worlds of fashion and politics have collided. This is evident in Beyoncé’s BPP inspired performance during the Super Bowl halftime performance where she dressed her dancers in black berets, to a Chanel 2017 runway show, which took place in Havana, Cuba, paying tribute to the countries former leader.11        

1 Rachel Lubitz. “The History of the Beret: How a Peasant’s Hat Turned into a Political Statement.” Mic. Online

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2 Ibid.

3 Ibid.

4 Ibid.

5 Ibid.

6 Ibid.

7 Ibid.

8 Ibid.

9 Ibid.

10 Ibid.

11 Ibid.

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