Garment Stories: Hunting Ensemble Beanie

This is a new category born out of my burning wish to tell this one thing… It’s not #100wears just yet for this one, and it is long way from being beyond repair, but it’s a lovely gem of a garment and the story behind it makes it even lovelier.

The cutest thing happened last week. I received the best gift in a long time. And here comes my lesson learnt (as a receiver of such gift) about gift giving: the best material gift is the replacement of something the receiver loved and then lost/wore out/grew out of. Of course, this is not applicable to irreplaceables (pets, people, etc.), so don’t be daft about it, but if you know somebody well enough to know that they have lost a material possession they were fond of, that would make sense to own again and haven’t replaced it yet, here’s your perfect opportunity to show how loving and attentive you are. Boom!

The other way of telling this is ‘my partner gave me a hat that’s very similar to the hat I had until last February and I couldn’t be happier about it’.

So going back a while… I found a red knitted hat among C’s possessions in 2013/2014. I have no idea where it came from, but it was cute and practical, and I started wearing it. As an adult I’ve developed sensitive ears, and year-round swimming (and hating the blow dryers) and bicycle wind don’t help. And I always felt cool when wearing. Few things have that power, so I cherished the little red beanie.

With time it got a patina of meaning and inside jokes, especially about being part of the crew taking after the aesthetics associated with Jacques Cousteau and Wes Anderson’s The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou. But during a beer festival in February 2018 I somehow lost it. Yeah, you tell me about the benefits of losing a hat in -17ºC Latvian winter. I looked for it, I wrote the organizers but that beanie was gone… the n-th proof that I am pretty reckless with my things and because of that it probably fell out of my pocket and was shoveled away by a snow/garbage truck. Sad.

I can’t even claim that all I wanted for Xmas was a little red hat, because after a few Pinterest searches I just assumed that the hat I was left with was the gray one I crocheted for C in 2012/2013, so I just wore that one. Yes, very in line with my ‘use up what you’ve got‘ ideology… it’s a fine hat, but it’s a long way from being as visually interesting as the red one. Sorry, gray hat!

I had basically forgotten about the red one when C showed up one day after work with a little package for me. Ta-dah! He had gone beyond a lazy Pinterest search and found Hunting Ensemble Fine Merino Beanie in bright red. 100% merino and made in Germany. This is what I meant before talking about perfect desired presents that bring so much joy…

The new hat also sparked an interest in learning – well, doing a basic google search – about the little red hat. Turns out it has a fun name (‘cap comforter’) and a long history in civil engineering diving that then TV made it Coustou’s trademark. Well, he was wearing it anyways and it looked good on the color TV. Read up: The Incredible Story Beneath Jacques Cousteau’s Famous Red Hat and An incredible Follow-Up to Jacques Cousteau’s Famous Red Hat. Googling ‘standard diving dress‘ you’ll see several historic photos with divers hugging the bonnet under their arm and sporting a knitted cap.

I unpicked the brand tag from my and now I have the perfect anonymous red beanie. It’s so similar to the old one I could have illustrated this with last year’s pictures and nobody would have found a difference… Ha!


Have you received something very special this festive season? Have you ever had any successful replacements of this type? Do you lose things often?

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