Why are beanie hats called beanies?

The humble beanie hat has taken on a life of its own in the past, becoming both an iconic fashion accessory and a cultural phenomenon, because it has become everyday wear for many people.

But where did this everyday item get its name? And how did it become so popular? Learn about the history behind this unique garment here.

Historically, Yet Modern: What Makes Beanie Hats “Beanies”

The history of a beanie cap is very long and it goes back to the beginning of the 19th century.

Because of its expansion, and many people who find it a useful piece of garment has developed in many different types.

There are propeller beanie, skull cap, knit cap, tossie cap, and ski hat are just a few alternatives to the original beanie hat. 

beanie history

As they come in many styles, they also can be made from many materials like cotton, wool, viscose, synthetic materials, and fleece. They can be in different fits, from slouchy and loose on top, to snug to the head. They can be decorated with embellishments, such as buttons, tassels, pom-poms, and other designs.

As everything that is beloved by that many people, guys and girls love beanie hats too, have more than one source of how they got that name. 

Sit tight because you are about to find out everything you wanted to know about beanie hats!

What Is a Beanie?

The Beanie hat is a warm, close-fitting knitted cap, but there is also a non knitted variety of skullcap. They can be made from wool cotton, viscose, synthetic materials. There are many types of beanies, so they can fit everyone, men, women, and children. They are very common pieces of garment, especially on cold days of autumn and winter.  

Beanie History

Beanie hats were first made in the USA in the early 1900s. 

Was the skull cap historically worn mostly by college students? Yes, but as knit caps are a very comfortable and warm solution for cold days, more and more people were deciding to start wearing them. By the time of the 1950s, they became regular pieces of cloths for college freshmen, as a form of hazing between new students, and they were known as college beanies, in medieval universities.

the brief history of the beanie hat

At the same time, they were more and more popular with the working-class, because not only that knitted style hats were saving them from the cold, but also, they were great to keep their hair out of the way and reduce the amount of sweat on their foreheads. 

But real BUM, both the hats had at the 1990s, because of fashion trends from that period.

Caps suddenly were everywhere, and everybody was wearing them because they are a great way to keep your head warm.

At the end of the 20th century, they have become one of the most powerful fashion statements, and they haven’t slowed since. 

Today, they are in practically every closet all around the world and there is not one person that does not own at least one piece of the propeller hat. They are worn by comic books lovers, surf lifesavers, they are even worn by people who engage in surf sports.

Why Are Beanies Called "Beanies"?

As is usually the case with everything that becomes as popular as these hats themselves, there is more than one story about how it got its name. Here, we will present you with the two most popular stories.

history of beanies

In the early 1900s, when this type of hat was invented, people in the United States of America where the slang term bean meaning “head” is used. And as these hats are close-fitted around the head, people started to call them beanie hats or simple beanies.

This theory comes from the fact that the cloth-covered button on the top of the beanie hat is the size of the bean seed, as, from that, the hat is called a beanie hat. 

Beanie Hats Today

As we said, today, beanies are one of the most popular winter garments, all around the world. With every passing day, there are more and more people who wear beanie hat.

This is because they are simple, warm, stylish, can be worn in almost every situation and almost every outfit, they are easy to clean, and even to make at home. Click for our guide to making a beanie.

Except for fashion statements, they are very popular with the working class, sportsmen, children (propeller beanie), and people who are experiencing hair loss, during chemotherapy (or any other reason).

To wrap things up 

Beanies are one of the most popular pieces of clothes today, besides other headwear like propeller harm baseball cap, etc. They have a history long for more than a century, and their name dates from that time too. There is more than one source for its name, but the two most popular comes from slang for word head which in the early 1900s was “bean” and the other source is from the fact that the size of the button on the hat was the same size 

Common‌ ‌Questions‌

what is a beanie hat

Why do people call Beanies toboggans?

Even if you call a beanie a monmouth cap, it is still really a "beanie". A common misconception is that beanies and monmouth caps are different things, but they are in fact the same. Monmouth is just a word that was used in the US and Canada and it eventually ended up in these two countries and became the name we use today. But if we look into the history of the beanie we can still see that it was always called a beanie, even when the word "Monmouth" was used for it. On the other hand, in Australia, New Zealand, UK, etc., the word Beanie was used since the start.

What do they call beanies in the South?

When southerners refer to beanies, they’re giving what used to be the universal name for the derby, the tuque, the newsboy, the wool toque, the stocking cap.

What do the English call a beanie?

The English call a beanie “a cap”, not a beanie. The two words sound similar and they’re both headgear, but beanie is actually a registered trademark of the Head Company and is used in America. The word “beanie” has been taken over and is now considered an American word. However, the word cap is short and crisp and covers both a beanie (the type of headgear on which you can fill up with sweets on Halloween) and a woolly cap (the type of headgear worn when it’s cold).

What is the difference between a beanie and a slouchy beanie?

Beanies were originally called slouch hats. However, as the hats grew in popularity they grew even more in the wrong direction. Now it is all about the size. A slouch hat that has a peak that is about 7-5 cm tall. In normal conditions, the peak will leave the soldier’s ears exposed as he’s marching. On some windy days, it would be knocked off his head if he didn’t have a strap around it. In some uncomfortable situations where the hat would be knocked off by the wind, soldiers would grab the brim and push it down, but it naturally popped back up. It developed a weird and unique look, and the soldiers started calling them “slouch” hats or “slouch”

Author - Fred Felton
Fred Felton          

Content Creator / Editor

Fred Felton is a copywriter, editor and social media specialist based in Durban, South Africa. He has over 20 years of experience in creating high end content. He has worked with some of the biggest brands in the world. Currently Fred specialises in the winter outdoors space, focussing on skiing and snowboarding. He is also a keynote speaker and has presented talks and workshops in South Africa.


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