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The beanie is bear to get right. The right materials, the right styling, the right roll. Too small or too twee and you’re a would-be Zissou whose winter headwear is just this side of a yarmulke. Pop the crown too far and you look like you’re wearing a woolen condom, which, though potentially ribbed, is not for anyone’s pleasure. Go too slouchy and you’re early-aughts David Beckham at which point your shoes shapeshift into square-toed Diesel sneakers.
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Ah, the perils of staying warm while looking cool.
I’ve worn a lot of beanies in my time in Maine — from a gorpy handknit slapper to LL Bean’s collab with Todd Snyder to luxe cashmere from FE Castleberry to a got-it-at-the-gas-station blaze orange Carhartt (best way to avoid getting shot during hunting season) — and I’m here to tell you that this fall and winter are all about the Merz b. Schwanen waffle beanie.
Merz B. Schwanen Unisex Sturdy Beanie
If you know Merz, it’s likely because Carmy wears their impeccable white t-shirt on The Bear. It was the shirt that launched a thousand Google searches. It’s a banger of a t-shirt. But the loopwheel-obsessed German brand has much more to offer. Their Good Basics collection is a gold mine of well-made, well-considered staples and the waffle beanie is the perfect intro to investing in every day, foundational pieces.
It’s made of a sturdy merino wool in Portugal and the waffle knit is a perfect antidote to every other ribbed beanie out there. You get texture without going for a cable or Aran knit (no shade there, but it’s a move), and the colorways are perfect for fall. I’m partial to clay. No Cousteauvian red in sight.
Best of all, the beanie comes with the ideal roll already creased in. Out of the box, the guy has a dashing two-inch cuff, which sits either above my ears if I pop the top just a wee bit, or will sit over the ears when I pull it down. Fake fall or real fall, you’re covered, literally. The hat tells you how to wear it, and the hat is right.
Bonus points for the fact that the only visible branding on the hat is a postage-stamp-size tag with Merz’s very charming swan logo. And if/when you fall in love with the beanie and think to yourself, “Man I wish I could put this beanie on the rest of my body,” you’ll be glad to know it also comes in sweatshirt form.
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