A beanie, in conjunction with a big, warm coat, is your main line of defense against the biting cold of winter. Scientists may have debunked the long-held myth that "40-50-percent of heat escapes from the head," but wearing one certainly won't hurt. They'll keep your ears from crystalizing and crumbling off, your hair from catching falling snowflakes and, your forehead from facing the brunt of a frozen breeze.
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Your chosen style will determine how the beanie fits. If it's a fisherman beanie, for example, it'll run small, sitting at or above the ears, not below the lobes. A watch cap, on the other hand, will cover most of your ears.
Fisherman beanies were popularized in various navies and then by Jacques Cousteau, the ocean explorer. They are typically worn above the ears, mostly because they're knit that way — to be small and versatile. But some folks roll or fold theirs, turning a standard Watch Cap (see below) into a tiny beanie.
Want one? Find a fisherman beanie that suits you in our guide to the style.
Close your eyes. Think of the 2000s — a time when men wore their beanies unfolded, long but pulled back to their hairline (like a hair net). This is the no fold style. It's easy to wear, it completely covers your ears and it doesn't need much adjusting. Nowadays, they're rare, but they're still out there — look at Naadam's, for example.
Most beanies we know today descend from Watch Caps, which were standard issue in the American navy. They have a thick cuff that's folded and a sizable crown, which fits most heads thanks to its elasticity.
Bobble beanies come with a circular poof atop the crown. Lore says it was put there, so deck workers made others aware of their head height, making accidents less likely.
Most cotton beanies are woven tightly enough to keep the cold out. Needless to say, they won't be as warm as a wool beanie, but they'll do. And they're machine washable. If you put a wool beanie through the wash, it'll never be the same: it'll shrink or pill and probably stay that way.
Wool beanies are the warmest but also the easiest to break from its original form. They're a delicate accessory, which means you need to wear yours — if it's a fine cashmere, for example — with care, depending on the knit.
Acrylic fabric is the cheapest option, and it can be equally as insulating, albeit less breathable. You can find an acrylic beanie for under $15.