A beret (pronounced Template:IPA in English, except in American English in which it is pronounced Template:IPA) is a soft round cap, usually of wool felt, with a flat crown, which is worn by both men and women.
Berets are worn by many military and police units, and in some countries are particularly associated with elite units, who often wear berets in more unusual colours (such as the maroon of Commonwealth parachute troops, the green of the Royal Marines, French Commandos ("Bérets verts"), and American Special Forces, the scarlet of the elite Soviet Internal Troops (Spetsnaz) and Police Tactical Unit of Singapore, the beige or tan of Commonwealth special forces units (SAS, CSOR) and U.S. Army Rangers, or the wide black of French Chasseurs alpins, the first military unit to have worn berets).
Wearing the beret
The beret when properly worn fits snugly around the head, and the soft crown can be shaped in a variety of ways – it is commonly pushed to one side. Berets were originally worn by Northern Basque peasants (from the border area of Southern France, and Northern Spain) and were knitted from wool. Today berets are normally made from wool felt.
Uniform berets feature a headband or sweatband attached to the wool, made either from leather or silk, sometimes with a drawstring allowing the wearer to tighten the hat. The drawstrings are, according to custom, either tied and cut off/tucked in or else left to dangle. The beret is often adorned with a cap badge, either in cloth or metal. Some berets have a piece of buckram or other stiffener in the position where the badge is intended to be worn. Berets are also often lined with silk, imitation silk, or other material, though in some militaries the liner is removed in order to shape (called "forming") the beret.
The headband is in most cases apparent, but it can also be folded in (Basque style beret).
Berets in the military
Berets have been a component of the uniforms of many armed forces throughout the world since the mid-20th century. A light blue beret is the international symbol of the United Nations Peacekeeping forces. Military berets are usually pulled to the right, but the armies of some European countries (including France) have influenced the pull to the left.
The use of berets as a military headdress dates back to the creation of the French Chasseurs alpins in the early 1880s. These mountain troops were issued with a new style of uniform which included several features which were very practical and advanced by the standards of the time, notably the large and floppy blue beret which they still retain (see below). This was so unfamilar a fashion outside France that it had to be described in an English encyclopedia in 1911 as "a sort of tam o'shanter hat".
Berets have features that make them very attractive to the military: They are cheap and easy to make in large numbers, they can be manufactured in a wide range of colours to enhance branch or regimental esprit de corps, they can be rolled up and stuffed into a pocket without damage and they can be worn with headphones (this is one of the reasons why tank crews came to adopt the beret). However, they are not so useful in field conditions for an infantryman, as they do not offer the protection for the face against sun and rain that a peaked or wide brimmed hat does.
The beret was found particularly useful as a uniform for armoured vehicle crewmen, and the British Tank Corps (later Royal Tank Corps) adopted the headdress as early as 1918. German AFV crews in the late 1930s also adopted a beret with the addition of a padded crash helmet inside. The colour black became popular as a tank crew headdress since it did not show oil stains picked up inside the interior of a vehicle. Black berets continue to be worn by armoured regiments throughout the Commonwealth.
Berets have become the default military headdress of the late 20th and early 21st centuries, just as the tricorne, shako, kepi and peaked cap were in various early eras. The beret is now worn by the majority of military personnel across the world. The three major hold-outs were the United States, Russia, and China (PRC) - all have now followed the example of the other armies in adopting berets.
- Black — Royal Australian Armoured Corps
- Fawn — Special Air Service Regiment
- Light blue — Australian Army Aviation
- Scarlet — Royal Australian Corps of Military Police
- Dull cherry — Parachute units
- Rifle green — Royal Australian Regiment
- Sherwood green — Commando
- Slate grey — Royal Australian Army Nursing Corps
- Dark blue — other personnel
Black berets are worn in the Royal Australian Navy, and blue berets in the Royal Australian Air Force, but only with working/combat attire. Terracotta berets are worn by Multi-National Force and Observer contingents. In all cases, the beret is pulled to the right and a badge worn above the left eye.
Berets are common in most parts of the Army, and are usually worn for special occasions, but also regularly by certain forces.
- Green — infantry, all troops that do not wear another colour
- Olive-green — Jagdkommando, the Austrian special forces
- Black — mechanized troops, anti-tank troops, artillery, reconnaissance
- Dark red — Jägerbataillon 25
- Scarlet red — guard
Berets have been worn by Belgian military personnel since World War II. Berets vary in colour according to the regiment, and carry a crest pin (sometimes on a coloured background patch) which is of gold colour for officers, silver for noncommissioned officers and bronze for troops.
- Maroon — Paracommando Brigade HQ/1 Para/3 Para/Special Forces Group/Parachute Training Center
- Green — 2 Commando/Paracommando Brigade Field Artillery/Commando Training Center
- Green (bigger size, basque type with folded-in brim, with boar's head pin) — Chasseurs Ardennais regiment
- Brown — Infantry
- Black — Engineers and Armoured troops
- Dark blue — Artillery
- Cobalt blue — Logistics and administration troops
- Grey — Transmission troops
- Bright red — Military police
- Grey-blue — Air component
- Light blue — former Land component Light aviation (now part of Air Component)
- Dark navy blue (no crest pin, but embroidered crest) — Navy component
- Dark green — Medical component
Berets were first worn in the Canadian Army in 1937 when tank regiments (at that time part of the infantry) adopted the black beret of the Royal Armoured Corps. The black beret, which is now the headdress of the Royal Canadian Armoured Corps (RCAC), was first worn by the Essex Regiment (Tank), now renamed The Windsor Regiment (RCAC). This was because the other new tank units were ordered to wear the headdress that they had while serving as infantry. The Essex Regiment (Tank) was a new unit, formed as a tank regiment, with no connection to the Infantry. As such, it picked the headdress that was worn by the Royal Tank Corps of the British Army.
During the Second World War, a khaki beret was adopted throughout the Canadian Army, with the Canadian Armoured Corps (later Royal Canadian Armoured Corps) wearing the black beret and parachute troops wearing the maroon beret adopted by British airborne forces. The 2nd Canadian Parachute Battalion (the Canadian component of the First Special Service Force) wore a red beret with the dress uniform. Wartime berets were much fuller in cut than postwar berets.
After the Second World War, a series of coloured berets were adopted, with infantry regiments wearing scarlet, rifle regiments wearing dark (rifle) green, the armoured corps wearing black, and other arms and services wearing midnight blue berets, with a large coloured "flash" in corps colours - dull cherry for the Royal Canadian Army Medical Corps, Emerald Green for the Royal Canadian Dental Corps, etc. The coloured flashes were not popular and replaced in 1956 with forage caps bearing coloured bands in corps colours. The midnight blue beret itself was retained, however. 
When the Canadian Forces unified in the late 1960s, the rifle green beret was adopted as the CF standard. The RCAC successfully fought to retain its distinctive black beret, and the Canadian Airborne Regiment wore the maroon beret until the unit was disbanded. Scottish and Irish infantry regiments wear tam o'shanters, glengarries, balmorals or caubeens instead of berets. The berets listed below are the current standard:
- Maroon — jump-qualified personnel in parachute units. These are currently Charlie Company, 3rd Battalion Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry; Mike Company, 3rd Battalion Royal Canadian Regiment; Alpha Company, 3rd Battalion Royal 22e Régiment; Para Company, The Queen's Own Rifles of Canada
- Black — Royal Canadian Armoured Corps, other personnel employed in armoured trades, Canadian Navy
- Scarlet — qualified Military Police
- CF green (also known as "rifle green") — other army units
- Postman blue (official designation; informally "Air Force blue") — Canadian Air Force
- Blaze orange — Search and Rescue technicians
- Rusty orange — personnel on duty with the Multinational Force and Observers (MFO), Sinai
- Tan — CANSOFCOM (Canadian Special Operations Force Command) units such as Joint Task Force 2 (JTF2) and the Canadian Special Operations Regiment (CSOR) have adopted a tan beret similar to the beige beret worn by Britain's Special Air Service
The beret is used with service dress as formal headdress (especially after the move away from the forage cap in the 1990s) as well as with CADPAT clothing as garrison dress and as a form of combat dress. In certain cases the beret is even used as Ceremonial Dress, most commonly in units of the Royal Canadian Armoured Corps.
China, People's Republic of
- Dark greenish brown — Infantry
- Dark blue — Navy
- Dark sky-blue — Air Force
The Armed Forces of the Czech Republic use berets (known as radiovka) for both battledress and display uniform. The colour of the beret is defined by the branch of the armed forces. The beret displays the small state coat of arms and the badge of rank of the individual. 
- Orange — Civil defence troops, Engineering Brigades
- Maroon — 4th Rapid Deployment Brigade (Airborne), 601st Special Forces Group
- Dark green — Reconnaissance troops
- Light green — Other ground forces (mechanised infantry, armour, artillery, NBC protection, etc.)
- Dark blue — Air Force
- Grey — Logistics, Medical troops
- Black — Military Police
The Royal Danish Army uses berets for all its personnel. The Navy and Air Force also use berets.
- Green — Support troops; artillery; engineers; home guard
- Red — Military police
- Burgundy — Jægerkorpset (special forces)
- Black — Other combat units
- Dark blue — Royal Danish Navy; Royal Danish Marines
- Light Blue Gray — Royal Danish Air Force
The Finnish Defence Force uses berets with cap badges for the Army, Navy and the Air Force. The berets are worn in "clean" garrison duties such as roll calls and with the walking-out uniform, but not with the battle dress. Until the mid-1990s, the beret was reserved for troops with special status, such as the coastal jägers and the parachute jägers, but is nowadays used by all units. In the winter, berets are replaced by winter headgear.
Berets are also used by the Finnish Frontier Guard, which is a military organization under the aegis of Ministry of Interior.
- Olive-green (Badge: silver lion's head) — Army
- Olive-green (Badge: golden lion's head with a crown) — Finnish Rapid Deployment Force and units abroad
- Blue (Badge: Air Force insignia) — Air Force
- Blue (Badge: silver griffin) — Army aviation
- Blue (Badge: Harp and sword) — Military bands
- Dark blue (Badge: Anchor and Lion) — Navy (including coastal troops, but with the exception of coastal jägers)
- Black (Badge: Armored head) — Armoured Brigade
- Green (Badge: Golden sea eagle's head) — Coastal jägers
- Maroon (Badge Arrow and parachute) — Parachute jägers or special jägers (Utti Jäger Regiment)
- Olive-green (Badge: Golden bear's head, sword and fir tree twig) — Frontier jägers
The military beret originated in the French Army, in the form of the wide and floppy headdress worn by the Chasseurs alpins (mountain light infantry) from their foundation in the early 1880s. A tight-fitting version was subsequently adopted by French armoured troops towards the end of World War I. Between the wars special fortress units raised to garrison the Maginot Line wore khaki berets. The beret in red, blue or green was a distinction of the Metropolitan, Colonial and Foreign Legion paratroop regiments during the Indochina and Algerian wars. After 1962 the beret in either khaki or the colours specified above became the standard French Army headdress for ordinary use.
- Wide black — Chasseurs alpins and other mountain troops (the wide beret's nickname is the tarte (tart))
- Green — Naval Commandos; Foreign Legion
- Dark blue — Air Commandos; Troupes de Marine
- Red — Paratroops (except the Foreign Legion) (this colour is called amarante)
- Electric blue — Army Light Aviation
- Black — all other army troops
The German Heer uses berets with cap badges for every branch of service. The Luftwaffe and the Navy issue navy blue berets only to their ground or land combat units (called Luftwaffen- and Marine-Sicherungsstaffeln). Berets are usually worn at special ceremonies and roll calls, although units with a special esprit de corps, especially armoured and mechanized infantry (Panzergrenadiere) battalions, wear their berets all the time.
- Black — armoured units, including amoured reconnaissance and the now disbanded panzerjäger (anti-tank)
- Dark red — special units, including airborne troops, mountain troops, army aviation, division airmobile operations (DLO; 'Division Luftbewegliche Operationen), and Division Special Operations (DSO; Division Spezielle Operationen), including the KSK (Kommando Spezialkräfte)
- Light red — support units, including artillery, engineers, intelligence, psychological operations (Operative Information), anti-aircraft, supply, NBC protection, signals, electronic warfare, transport, topography, and military police
- Moss green — infantry units, including Jägertruppe, Panzergrenadiere (armoured infantry), and ceremonial guards (Wachbataillon des Heeres); military bands
- Dark blue — medical units
- Navy blue — Luftwaffe (air force) and Deutsche Marine (navy) infantry and ceremonial guards; multinational units (e.g. Eurocorps)
The beret colours worn by the Hellenic Army are as follows:
- Dark blue — Army general use
- Light blue — Presidential Guard
- Black — Armoured Corps
- Green — Special Forces
- Dark red — Army Aviation
- Light red — Airborne Troops
Icelandic armed services commonly use berets.
- Green — Infantry regiments (except light infantry and rifles)
- Dark (rifle) green — Light infantry and rifle regiments
- Maroon — The Parachute Regiment and Special Forces
- Black — Armoured Corps
- Grey — Army Aviation Corps
- Scarlet — Corps of Military Police
- Navy blue — Other corps and regiments
Republic of Ireland
The beret colours worn by Óglaigh na hÉireann (Irish Defence Forces) are as follows:
- Black with red patch behind capbadge — Permanent Defence Forces
- Light green with bottle green patch — Reserve Defence Forces
- Bottle green — Army Ranger Wing (Sciathán Fianóglach an Airm)
- Red — An Cor Póilíní Airm (Military Police)
All personnel wear a common capbadge, a sunburst insignia with the letters "FF" inscribed above the left eye of the beret; this is the ancient symbol of the Fianna, the elite forces of Irish warriors.
- Main article: Israel Defense Forces insignia
Israeli Defense Forces soldiers wear berets only on formal occasions, such as ceremonies and roll calls, and in disciplinary situations such as court martials and imprisonments. The beret is placed beneath the left epaulette The beret colors are as follows:
- Olive green — general corps, recruits, general logistic corps
- Black — armored corps
- Turquoise — artillery corps
- Maroon — Paratroopers Brigade, general staff units (Sayeret Matkal and others)
- Light green (lime) — Nahal Brigade
- Purple — Givati Brigade
- Brown — Golani Brigade
- Camouflage/Tiger-striped — Kfir Brigade
- Deep green — Intelligence Directorate, field intelligence corps, border police
- Orange — Home Front Command
- Light gray — engineering corps
- Blue — military police
- Deep blue — navy
- Gray — air force
Italian Army personnel used to wear a garrison cap alongside the combination cap, until the early 1970s when the garrison cap was replaced by the beret. Until the early 1980s the general Army colour for the beret was khaki, the black being reserved to armoured units. The colours presently used are:
- Maroon — paratroopers
- Blue — Army aviation
- Black — all Army units except the above-mentioned ones
- Green — Navy special forces (Incursori)
- Teal blue — Air Force guards
- Red — Carabinieri Hunters Squadron
- Dark green — GICO
In the Mexican Army, the beret is worn by:
- Maroon — Paratroopers
- Black — Special Forces Units (GAFEs)
In the Mexican Navy:
- Black — Paratroopers
When the Royal Netherlands Armed Forces acquired new modernised uniforms (designed by the Dutch couturier Frans Molenaar) in 2001, the berets changed as well. Since 2004, soldiers of the Royal Netherlands Army have worn a petrol (blue-green) beret, whereas previously they wore brown.
The following colours are also used (before and after the modernisation):
- Black — Armour and Cavalry
- Green — Commandos of the Korps Commandotroepen
- Maroon — Airmobile troops of the Air Manoeuvre Brigade (one third of the brigade is on jump status)
- Grey-blue — Royal Netherlands Air Force
- Dark blue (near black) — Royal Netherlands Navy (Royal Netherlands Marine Corps wear a red patch behind the beret-flash)
- Bright blue — Koninklijke Marechaussee (Royal Gendarmerie)
The only Dutch military units that do not wear a beret are the Gele Rijders (Horse Artillery), who wear a blue garrison cap with yellow trimming.
All regiments and services have their own distinctive colours. There are quite a lot, but the number of colours in the logistic services was reduced in 2001. This colour is shown in a patch of cloth behind the beret flash. The intendance (maroon), transport troops (blue), military administration (pink; hence the nickname 'Pink Mafia'), technical service (black), and medical troops and service (green) lost their colours and all now wear yellow patches.
- Infantry — Red, except:
- Grenadier Guards — Red with blue border
- Rifle Guards — Green with yellow border
- Fusilier Guards — Orange with blue border
- Regiment van Heutsz — Black with orange border
- Limburg Rifles Regiment — Green with maroon border
- Korps Commandotroepen — Black with dark green border
- Cavalry (Armour) — Blue with white, red or orange border
- Cavalry (Reconnaissance) — Blue with black border
- Artillery — Black with red border
- Engineers — Brown
- Signals — Blue with white border
- Logistics — Yellow
- Legal Affairs — Black with white border
- Psychological and Sociological Service — Red
- Protestant Chaplains — Black
- Catholic Chaplains — Blue
- Jewish Chaplains — Black
- Humanist Society Chaplains — Bright green
- Hindu Chaplains — Bright blue
- Troops in Initial Training — Red
- Royal Military Academy Cadets — Red with yellow border
- Physical Training Instructors — Blue
- Technical Staff — Maroon
All soldiers in the New Zealand Army wear rifle green berets, except for Special Air Service, who wear a sand or ERCW colour. Personnel of the Royal New Zealand Air Force wear dark blue, while the Royal New Zealand Navy wear black.
The Norwegian armed forces use the beret as a garrison cap, but some units (mostly armored vehicle personnel) also use it in the field. The Norwegian beret and all other headwear except those of the Navy always have the current king's cipher as a badge; currently this is a numeral 5 inside an H, for "Harald V". The navy has a crowned gold anchor for their enlisted personnel, a crowned gold anchor surrounded by a circle of rope for their petty officers, and a crowned golden anchor surrounded by leaved branches for officers. The colours used are:
- Bright blue — 6th Division (except armoured troops, mechanised infantry and military police)
- Dark green — all army forces located in Finnmark
- Black — Armour; Intelligence
- Khaki — 2nd Battalion
- Emerald green — Telemark Battalion
- Maroon — Army Ranger Command
- Red — Military police
- Olive green — other army units
- Olive green with silver badge — recruits in His Majesty's The Kings Guards; Krigsskolen
- Dark blue — Royal Norwegian Navy
- Air force blue — Royal Norwegian Air Force Base Defence Units
- Air force light blue — Royal Norwegian Air Force Air Defence Artillery Units
The special operations units of the Navy wear the same berets as the rest of the navy. However they have a coloured patch behind the cap badge, the colour of which determines the unit:
Black berets were introduced before World War II for tank and armoured car crews. During World War II, berets were widely adopted in the Polish Army on the Western Front. After the war in the communist era, berets were worn only by armoured units (black), paratroopers (red) and marines (light blue). After 1990, the beret became the standard headgear in the Armed Forces of Republic of Poland. The following colours are in use:
- Light Blue — Marines
- Black — Armoured troops
- Brown — Territorial Defence
- Green — Army general use
- Red — Airborne troops and Special Operations
- Scarlet — Military Police (Gendarmerie)
- Steel grey — Air force
- Grey — Operational Mobile Reaction Group (GROM)
The black beret is also the distinctive headgear of World War II veterans, particularly Armia Krajowa veterans.
In the Portuguese Armed Forces, the following berets are in use:
- Emerald green — Paratroopers
- Brown — Army general use
- Black — Cavalry (except Cavalry Paratroopers) and Military Police
- Red — Comandos
- Grass green — Special Operations
- Navy blue — Marines
- Sky blue — Air Force Police
- Black (or dark blue) with a green strip on the lower half — Republican National Guard (GNR) Infantry Regiment Operational Battalion (public order and special operations units)
Until 1975, the following berets were also in use:
- Yellow — Mozambique Special Groups
- Crimson — Mozambique Parachutists Special Groups
- Camouflage — Angola and Mozambique "Flechas" (covert operations special forces)
Russian military structures (both Armed Forces and Internal Troops) use the following types of berets:
- Sky blue — Airborne troops (VDV)
- Black — Marines
- Dark green — Internal Troops (formerly, and still sometimes unofficially, black)
- Scarlet — Interior Troops, distinguished duty
- Orange — Search and Rescue and Emergency Ministry troops (EMERCOM)
The Serbian Armed Forces wear the beret as their standard headgear. The following colours are used:
- Green — Army
- Black — Military Police
- Maroon — 63rd Paratroop Brigade and some other special forces
- Steel blue — Air Force
- Navy blue — Navy
The Singapore Armed Forces adopted the beret as their standard headgear. The different color divisions are as follows:
- Green — infantry
- Black — armour
- Khaki — guards
- Maroon — commandos
- Blue — support and artillery & navy
- Air force blue — Air Force (contrary to its name, the beret is closer to green in color)
The berets are all adorned with the Singapore Armed Forces coat of arms, with the exception of the Air Force beret and navy beret which are adorned with their respective cap-badge. Officers in the navy have a different cap-badge from the enlisted men.
The South African Army wears the beret as its standard headgear. The different color divisions are as follows:
- Green — infantry
- Black — armour
- Maroon — Parachute Regiment and Special Forces
- Blue — Logistics
- Camouflage — 61 Mechanised Infantry Battalion Group
The berets are all adorned with the unit's insignia. Some of the traditional units wear other headgear - for example, the Cape Town Highlanders Regiment and the South African Military Health Service.
Berets are mostly limited to the elite units of the South Korean Military, such as:
- Black — Army Special Warfare Command (adorned with the Airborne badge); ROTC
- Red — Air Force Combat Control Team (CCT)
- Maroon — Air Force Special Air Rescue Team (SART)
- Green — Marine Corps Force Reconnaissance
- Camouflage — Navy UDT/SEAL Team and armor
Other than these units, several secret commando units (mostly disbanded in the mid-1990s) formed to infiltrate North Korea during the Cold War days wore black berets and adorned them with the badges of individual units. Korean liaison soldiers serving in the U.S. Eighth Army (KATUSA) have also been wearing black berets along with American uniforms since that beret became a standard headgear of the U.S. Army in 2001.
As of 2006, there have been several proposals within the Korean Ministry of Defense to replace the current field cap with a dark-colored beret as the standard army headgear.
South Vietnam (defunct)
- Red — paratroopers
- Green — marines
- Brown — rangers
- Black or Green — special forces
- Black — palace guards
- Tan — political officers
The beret is used in the various armed forces of Sweden. The colours used are:
- Black (earlier dark blue) — armoured/mechanised units; Life Guard
- Maroon — paratroopers
- Bright red — musicians
- Dark green — Cavalry, which includes the army ranger battalion, the ISTAR-unit, Airmobile battalion, military police and the ceremonial guard.
- Green — amphibious troops and coastal rangers
- Dark blue — all other units and for units serving abroad. Was also worn by troops in the coastal artillery prior to 2001
- Blue — Helicopter Flotillia (helicopters)
- Brown — home guard
The beret is worn by all Swiss armed services, as well as various cantonal police forces and customs.
- Green — infantry
- Red — artillery
- Dark red — rescue troops
- Black — armoured and mechanised units; signals and headquarters troops
- Claret — mechanics; logistics troops; maintenance troops; territorial troops
- Grey — "Military Security": military police, fortification maintenance personnel, NBC specialists, special military security (Festungswachkorps)
- Deep blue — Air Force (including paratroopers)
- Light blue — medical and veterinary personnel
- Yellow — military observers on OSCE missions
The beret is used in the various armed forces of Thailand. The colours used are:
- Maroon — Paratroops, Special Forces
- Khaki green — Army Reserve Force Students
- Black — all other Army units, Air Force, Thahan Phran, Paratroop Police, Border Patrol Police
- Camouflage — Royal Thai Marine Corps
The black beret is also worn by ordinary police in certain situations.
- Black — Armored vehicle personnel
- Green — Gendarmerie
- Light blue — Commandos
- Maroon — Special forces
The British Army beret dates back to 1918 when the French 70th Chasseurs alpins were training with the British Tank Corps. The Chasseurs alpins wore a distinctive large beret (see above) and Major-General Sir Hugh Elles, the TC's Colonel, realised this style of headdress would be a practical option for his tank crews, forced to work in a reduced space. He thought, however, that the Chasseur beret was "too sloppy" and the Basque-style beret of the French tank crews was "too skimpy", so a compromise based on the Scottish tam o'shanter was designed and submitted for the approval of George V in November 1923. It was adopted in March 1924.
During the Second World War the beret was also adopted by the Commandos and Parachute Regiment. Later in the war, a rather baggier beret-like hat, called a General Service Cap, was issued to all ranks of the British Army (with RAC, parachute, commando, Scottish and Irish units excepted), to replace the earlier Field Service Cap. The GS Cap was not popular, and after the war was replaced with a true beret.
Today, every British military unit wears a beret, with the exception of the Royal Regiment of Scotland and Royal Irish Regiment, who wear the tam o'shanter and the caubeen respectively (the Scots Guards and Irish Guards, however, wear berets, as frequently do the Royal Irish Regiment on operations). Many of these berets are in distinctive colours and all are worn with the cap badge of the service, regiment or corps. The cap badge for all services in the UK is usually worn directly over the left eye, with some regiments allowing a little variation dependent on size, shape, and the cockading or flourishing of the badge.
The colours are as follows:
- Khaki — Foot Guards, Honourable Artillery Company, Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment, Royal Anglian Regiment, Duke of Lancaster's Regiment, Royal Welsh, Yorkshire Regiment
- Light grey — Royal Scots Dragoon Guards, Queen Alexandra's Royal Army Nursing Corps
- Brown — King's Royal Hussars, Royal Wessex Yeomanry
- Black — Royal Tank Regiment, W (Westminster Dragoons) Squadron, Royal Yeomanry
- Dark (Rifle) green — The Rifles, Royal Gurkha Rifles, Small Arms School Corps
- Maroon — Parachute Regiment, other troops serving in airborne role (not necessarily jump qualified)
- Beige — Special Air Service, Special Reconnaissance Regiment, including attached troops who are not SAS/SRR-qualified
- Sky blue — Army Air Corps
- Cypress green — Intelligence Corps
- Scarlet — Royal Military Police
- Green — Adjutant General's Corps (except Royal Military Police, who wear scarlet, and Military Provost Staff, who wear navy blue), Military Provost Guard Service
- Navy blue — all other Army units (except Scottish and Irish line infantry regiments), Royal Navy, Royal Marines who are not commando-qualified
- Commando green — commando-qualified Royal Marines (including Special Boat Service), other commando-qualified troops serving in commando units
- RAF blue — Royal Air Force (including RAF Regiment) 
Members of the Royal Tank Regiment, Army Air Corps, Parachute Regiment and SAS never wear any other form of uniform headgear except the beret (i.e. they do not wear peaked caps). Troops from other services, regiments or corps on attachment to units with distinctive coloured berets often wear those berets (with their own cap badge). Colonels, brigadiers and generals usually continue to wear the beret of the regiment or corps to which they used to belong with the cap badge distinctive to their rank. The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, the only remaining independent fusilier regiment, wears a feather hackle on the beret. Other ranks of the Royal Welsh also wear hackles.
Former regiments and corps, now amalgamated, that did not wear navy blue berets included:
- Khaki — Green Howards, King's Own Royal Border Regiment, Prince of Wales's Own Regiment of Yorkshire, Duke of Wellington's Regiment, Reconnaissance Corps, infantry motor battalions in World War II
- Dark (Rifle) green — Light Infantry, Royal Green Jackets, Devonshire and Dorset Light Infantry, Royal Gloucestershire, Berkshire and Wiltshire Light Infantry, Rifle Brigade, King's Royal Rifle Corps, 2nd King Edward VII's Own Gurkha Rifles (The Sirmoor Rifles), 6th Queen Elizabeth's Own Gurkha Rifles, 7th Duke of Edinburgh's Own Gurkha Rifles, 10th Princess Mary's Own Gurkha Rifles
- Black — all Royal Armoured Corps regiments in World War II, Westminster Dragoons, Berkshire and Westminster Dragoons
- Maroon — Glider Pilot Regiment and glider-borne units
- Green — Women's Royal Army Corps, women in Officers Training Corps (now wear navy blue)
The United States Army Special Forces are generally known as "green berets" for the color of their headgear. Other United States Army units can also be distinguished by the color of their headgear, as follows:
- Jungle green — Special Forces
- Tan — 75th Ranger Regiment and Ranger Training Brigade
- Maroon — paratroopers (82nd Airborne Division and 173rd Airborne Brigade)
- Black — all other Army units
Berets were originally worn only by elite units of the U.S. Army. Hence, there was controversy when in 2001 the United States Army adopted the black beret, previously reserved for the Rangers, as standard headgear for all army units.  The Rangers are now distinguished by tan berets.
The wearing of berets in the United States Air Force is somewhat less common, but several career fields are authorized to wear berets of differing colors, as specified in the following list:
- Maroon — Pararescue
- Scarlet — Combat Controllers
- Pewter grey — Combat Weathermen
- Blue— Security Forces
- Pewter green — Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape specialists (SEREs)
- Black — Tactical Air Control Parties (TACPs)
Black berets are also authorized as an optional-wear-item for women E1-E9 in the United States Navy.
Berets in other paramilitary organizations
The Police Cadets, Riot unit and the members of the Special Operations Unit of the National Commissioner of Icelandic Police (Víkingasveitin) wear black berets. High ranking members of the Reykjavík Air Rescue Unit are entitled to wear orange berets.
Dark blue berets are worn by the Polizia di Stato and blue berets by the Polizia Penitenziaria.
The Polícia de Segurança Pública (PSP) Intervention Corps wear navy blue berets, the Personal Security Corps (Corpo de Segurança Pessoal) (VIP bodyguards) wear sky blue berets, CIEXSS teams (explosive disposal) wear black berets, and the PSP Special Operations Group wear emerald green berets. The Guarda Prisional (Prison Guards) wear black berets.
Black berets were worn by all members of the Singapore Police Force until 1969, when the peaked cap was introduced. The beret was, however, retained for specialist forces, such as officers of the Special Operations Command (SOC) and the Police Coast Guard, as well as the Gurkha Contingent. A dark blue beret is worn, although the Police Tactical Unit of the SOC switched to red berets in 2005. The Gurkha Contingent began wearing khaki-coloured berets from 2006.
Members of the Singapore Civil Defence Force attached to a headquarters element, or on overseas missions, also wear black berets. These are adorned with the SCDF crest, and may sport a flash in certain specialist units, such as the Rescue Dog Unit and the elite Disaster Assistance and Rescue Team.
Auxiliary police officers of CISCO Security Private Limited don dark blue berets when performing escort and other high-risk duties, as do specialist forces of the Singapore Prison Service. In addition, student cadets of uniformed youth organizations such as the National Police Cadet Corps and the National Cadet Corps also wear berets of different colours.
Several police SWAT teams belonging to different municipalities wear either maroon or green berets; Seoul Metropolitan Police SWAT team (Unit 868) wears maroon berets, while Incheon Metropolitan Police SWAT team (Unit 313) wears green berets.
Spain and the Basque Country
The beret, boina in Spanish or txapela in Basque, was introduced into Spain during the First Carlist War. Carlists wore red berets (txapelgorri in Basque, which later also came to mean "Carlist soldier") and Isabellines white ones. The red beret became a Falange symbol when Carlism was merged into it after the Spanish Civil War.
Today the Basque police force, Ertzaintza, wears red berets.
ETA guerrillas may wear black berets over hoods in public appearances.
SO19, the armed response unit of the London Metropolitan Police, used to wear dark blue berets, and were nicknamed the 'Blue Berets'. Today, they generally wear baseball caps.
Berets in civilian organizations
Aside from armed forces, berets are associated with a variety of other different organizations.
- Berets are worn by some scout groups, notably in Hong Kong and Britain, where green berets are worn. The Hong Kong Air Scouts wear blue berets. Canadian Scouts eliminated their navy blue beret in the late 1990s, but it is slowly making a comeback among the older members in various forms, such as red for Rover Scouts in British Columbia.
- In Britain, berets are worn by the Sea Cadet Corps (SCC), Army Cadet Force (ACF), Air Training Corps (ATC) and Combined Cadet Force (CCF). These are in the appropriate service colour, with ACF and CCF Army Section units wearing the beret of the regiment or corps to which they are affiliated.
- Berets are worn by the Royal Canadian Army Cadets. They wear the same colour as their affiliated regular force unit, unless there is no affiliated unit, in which case a black beret is worn.
- Navy blue berets have been the standard headdress of the Royal Canadian Legion as well as other veterans' groups in Canada. 
- The Guardian Angels have adopted a red beret as a recognizable item of clothing 
- Some security companies in Hong Kong such as Securicor wear berets.
- Members of the youth committee of the Mexican Red Cross used to wear a red beret, and black berets were worn by parachutists of the same institution. These were phased out in 2006, when a new uniform was issued.
- Sousaphone players in marching bands typically wear berets because the regular combination cap would get in the way of the bell. All members of the Ohio State University Marching Band wear scarlet berets with a "Diamond Ohio" flash when not wearing their uniform hat (essentially, whenever they are outdoors and not performing).
- Most active members and supporters of the Black Panther Party wear a beret, generally either black or red.
- Members of the Civil Air Patrol who attend National Blue Beret (NBB) in Oshkosh, Wisconsin during the EAA AirVenture airshow can earn blue berets along with the Saint Alban's Cross, and the title of Blue Beret. Members of the Indiana Wing who achieve the classification of Ground Team Member level 2 (GTM2) are also awarded blue berets. CAP members who attend Hawk Mountain Ranger School and achieve the Advanced Ranger level are awarded black berets.
The beret was once considered the national hat of France and is part of the stereotypical image of the Onion Johnny. It has diminished in popularity, just as hats for men all over the world have waned in popularity. Still considered a matter of French pride, it is worn by both women and men. Black is the traditional colour. There are only two manufacturers left in France that make berets.
Some British comedians have been identified with the beret; Chris Langham is recorded as having announced to actor Ken Campbell that he has named the tassle or stalk which is present in some berets the langham, after himself. Michael Crawford also wore a beret as Frank Spencer. Other entertainment figures identified with the beret include Jamie Hyneman of MythBusters, and Fred Berry who played Rerun in What's Happening!! and What's Happening Now!! (as well as in real life).
- Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1911 Edition
- Australian Army Standing Orders for Dress
- Dressed to Kill (Service Publications, Ottawa, ON, 2001) ISBN 1-894581-07-5
- Bercuson, David J. Eye on Defence, article in Legion Magazine Mar/Apr 2006: "As time passed, and the very name "Airborne" lost its ability to put government ministers into shock, Canada's paratroopers were even allowed to don the maroon beret, the international symbol for parachute soldiers."
- PLA Caps and decorations
- Edict about military uniforms (in Czech)
- Gordon, David. Uniforms of the WWII Tommy (Pictorial Histories Publishing Company, Missoula, MT, 2005). ISBN 1-57510-122-X
- BBC website on British headdress
- The Army Black Beret
- Army Cadet Dress Regualtions CATO 46-01
- Article in Legion Magazine, Jan-Feb 2006
- Guardian Angels website