How to form an army beret

Written by jhonna moye
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How to form an army beret
The United States Army now wears a black beret as the standard uniform headgear. (uniformes image by Marco Antonio Fdez. from

The United States Army began wearing the black beret as their standard headgear on June 14, 2001. When a soldier is issued a new beret, it is in a roughly circular, flat pancake shape and must be formed to the head for proper wear. It is the responsibility of the individual soldier to form their berets properly.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Beret
  • Scissors
  • Razor
  • Warm water

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  1. 1

    If your beret came with a sewn-in liner, carefully cut the lining away. Army-issued berets do not have this lining, although some commercially sold berets may. The liner will interfere with the final form of the beret.

  2. 2

    Ensure the adjustment cords on the back of the beret are untied. Place the beret on your head, draw the cords until they make the beret snug on your head and tie the cords. Remove the beret and cut off the ends of the cords against the knot.

  3. 3

    Using warm water, wet the beret thoroughly. When the beret is wet all the way through, gently squeeze to remove excess water.

  4. 4

    Carefully shave the entire beret inside and out. This removes the loose wool fibres from the surface as well as slightly thinning the beret, making it easier to shape.

  5. 5

    Place the beret on your head and adjust so it is in the proper position for wear. The beret will have a small cardboard stiffener inside, known as the flash, which should be placed directly over your left eye. The bottom band of the beret should be approximately one inch, or two finger widths, above the eyes, and level all the way around the head.

  6. 6

    Grasp the flash with your left hand. With your other hand, pull the material on the left side so it comes snugly across your head, then smooth the material from back to front so it lays directly on your head all the way to the back of the flash.

  7. 7

    Smooth the material down the back of the flash. At this point, the beret should be smooth against your scalp on the left side and from back to front, with all excess material on the right side, and should lay smoothly against the back of the flash.

  8. 8

    Continue holding the flash, and make a fold with the excess material across the corner of the right side of the flash, so a drape over the corner is formed.

  9. 9

    Continue to work the excess material pulled to the right of the beret until it makes a neat crease along the right side of the beret. Once the material is smoothed and fitted to the form of your head, you are done shaping your beret. Make sure to wear the beret until it is dry to ensure it retains the form you have shaped it in.

Tips and warnings

  • Continue to re-wet the beret as needed while forming.
  • Do not use hot water to form the beret. The berets are made of wool, and will shrink if the water temperature is too high.

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