"I am not good at doing much with my hair," confesses gadabout activist Bianca Jagger, "so I can wear a beret and feel like I am dressed. You don't even have to take them off indoors, and I think that's what people like about them." Jagger speaks for a generation of celebrities who have learned the artful trick to being chic on a bad-hair day. The beret has become the '90s answer to the turban, a beauty secret usually associated with aging screen sirens who don't feel like bothering with their wigs.
But it's not only stars who are struck by berets. Sales doubled from 1991 to 1992, reaching an estimated $10 million, according to Casey Bush, executive director of the Manhattan-based Millinery Information Bureau. "For women," she says, "beret sales have even surpassed those of baseball caps.
Perhaps the latest beneficiary of fashion's trickle-up dynamics, berets have bounced back into style by way of American street gangs, who helped inspire Paris designers to send the jaunty hats down the runways again. Not that this particular chapeau, which originated with Basque peasants, had ever really fallen out of favor. "I don't think the beret ever went out," says actress Debi Mazar (TV's Civil Wars), who buys hers, by Kangol, in Manhattan's Times Square. "People are just get-ting hip In them again."
Which is something that worries trendsetters such as Jagger. "It seems to me," she says, "like too many people are wearing them right now." And that, of course, might soon make them old hat.