The History of the Beanie: How it Became a Household Item

While many people are familiar with beanies and often wear them to accessorize or complement their outfit, few know that they “originated” from the early 1900s, in America. At the time, bean was a slang word used to describe the head. 


  • When first created, beanies were not designed to be fashionable but made for the necessity of warmth and to keep hair back from the face.
  • It took more than a century for them to find their way into fashion trends.
  • Originally beanies were primarily worn by men.
  • A now uncommon name for beanies is Wool Knit Cap.
  • While the first major documentation of Beanies is from the early 1900s in America, it is believed to have actually been a product dating back as far as the 14th century. 
  • Beanies were originally made from wool but are now commonly made with fleece and other synthetic materials.


Looking back at the 14th century, the beanie was known as the Monmouth Cap, named after the town Monmouth in South East Wales. It has been documented to have gained popularity for its warmth and simplicity. By the 16th century, it had become a standard for the common workforce to wear them on their day to day jobs. From the rising of popularity in Monmouth through England, eventually, the wool hats made their way to Canada where they were recreated to be known as the tuque. Under the new name, tuques became a symbol for French-Canadian nationalism with the imprint of the maple leaf on France’s liberty cap.

Fast forward to the mid to late 1900s and the simple creation has been adapted across many countries and cultures. What started out as a means to keep warm has become an international trend. While beanies are still commonly used to keep the head warm and hair out of the face, they’re now worn by men and women abroad. Other common names for the product are knit cap, uhlan cap in the British Army, the Scandinavian tophue, and tuque is the French-Canadian name. 

While there are a variety of styles and versions of the design for beanies, all are known for their tight and snug fit on the head. Through many decades, the beanie has been recreated, restyled, and become a common household item. It doesn’t appear that the simple idea will be replaced with another hat any time soon, only designed with a new style every so often.