Army berets consist of a wool beret with leather strip that fits snugly around the top of the head. The wool is shaved and then the beret is soaked and formed then allowed to dry in the new shape. An Army flash or patch is sewn on the front and the unit crest (for enlisted soldiers) or shiny brass rank (for officers) is pinned on the centre of the flash. Black berets are worn by all Army soldiers except those in paratrooper brigades such as the 82nd Airborne who wear a dark maroon beret. US Army Rangers wear a tan beret, and the Special Forces soldiers wear a dark green beret as per their nickname "the green berets."
Take the beret and flash to a local sewing shop that specialises in military uniforms and alterations. Have the flash sewn on to the beret. It is best to have this professionally done due to the plastic guard that is inside the front of the beret to support the shape.
Hold the beret with one hand (your non-dominant hand) and hold a disposable razor with your dominant hand. Very gently begin to run the razor in short strokes over one section of the beret. This produces a sort of fuzzy lint that collects on the razor as well as around the razor's head and on the beret. Throw the lint out as it collects to keep the razor clear.
Shave the beret, going over only one small section at a time. If you try to shave too large an area at once you may cut the woven threads that comprise the wool fabric. As you shave you will see the woven, almost zigzag, pattern in the beret fabric. Stop shaving an area when you see this and move on to the next section.
Hold the beret up in good lighting and make sure there are no uneven areas once the entire beret's outside surface has been shaved. Carefully shave the uneven areas so the entire beret surface is smooth and consistent.
Soak the beret with water. This can be done simply by running it under the tap, preferably in a bathroom with a mirror. If possible, try to avoid getting the flash wet, especially if there is a lot of white on the flash as the fabric or thread dyes may bleed. Squeeze out slightly but keep it very damp.
Place the beret on your head, looking in a mirror. Position the flash over the left eye, centred over the eye, off-centre with the face. Tug on the extra beret fabric, pulling down to the right side of the head (away from the flash) while holding the flash in place. When the beret has been shaped to Army standard, leave on the head until approximately 75 per cent dry. Then remove and place in a safe spot to dry completely.
Be very careful when shaving the beret near the flash and near the leather rim at the bottom as the razor can snag flash threads and destroy the flash or cut the leather strip making the beret unwearable.
Tips and warnings
- Be very careful when shaving the beret near the flash and near the leather rim at the bottom as the razor can snag flash threads and destroy the flash or cut the leather strip making the beret unwearable.