The Beanie: Centuries-Old Fashion and Function

It is hard to go anywhere these days and not see people wearing beanies. As far as headgear and fashion go, we can barely separate the two. Beanies have become the all-purpose headgear for both men and women. Moreover, they go with just about everything. But where do they come from?

Today’s youth might consider beanies a relatively new piece of fashion. After all, most Americans only wore them in cold weather prior to 2000s, whereas today, we are just as likely to wear them in the middle of the summer. Well, it turns out that beanies are a centuries-old item of clothing. Back in the day, they weren’t a fashion statement. Beanies were all about keeping warm.


The Early Years: Monmouth Caps

The term ‘beanie’ is relatively new. Way back when the caps were first invented, in the 12th century, they were known as Monmouth caps. They were named after the town in which they were first produced. Welsh hatmakers made two types of Monmouth caps at the time. One was a seamed cap with a button on top. The other was a knitted cap very similar to modern beanies.

As Monmouth gradually became famous for the caps, makers began using more expensive materials to construct their products. They also started adding beautiful embroidery as well. By the 13th century, Monmouth caps were all the rage among the fashionable in Wales.

From Monmouth Cap to Woolen Beanie

The Monmouth cap continued to evolve over the next several hundred years. By the time the 18th century rolled around, Monmouth caps were all about fashion for females. Because they were still mainly functional for men, there was less emphasis on fashion for the products made for them. Also notable at this time was the transition to wool.

Where silk, velvet, and even taffeta were acceptable materials in the 12th and 13th centuries, makers had transitioned primarily to wool by the 18th century. Moreover, almost all beanies at that time were single-piece hats of knit construction.

Makers in Monmouth also began exporting their wool caps at that time. By the 19th century, they were all over the world. Other makers began getting in on the game too, but Monmouth retained its reputation as being home to the best and most fashionable beanies.

The Modern Beanie

That brings us to the modern beanie, a knit cap that is both fashionable and functional. In the early 1900s, the beanie began infiltrating colleges and universities thanks to students looking to establish their own fashion trends. Many of those same college students went on to keep wearing beanies as adults. So much so that the beanie became an item of workwear in the 1950s.

Manual laborers turned to wearing beanies to both protect their heads and keep their hair out of the way. And of course, they really took off in northern environments because they kept the heads of outdoor workers warm, even on the coldest days. From the 1950s through the late 1990s, beanies were more functional to most of the people who wore them.


Today, beanies are for everyone. Men, women, and children wear them year-round. You tend to see them more during the winter months, but beanies are not restricted to cold weather wearing.

If you are looking for a new beanie, we invite you to check out our store. You will find a great selection of knit caps from manufacturers you have come to know and trust. Now would be a good time for a new beanie, given that Salt Lake City winters can get pretty cold.

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