Having recently determined the threshold for beanie weather, we can move on to truly important matters: buying the best beanies to wear during beanie weather. A great beanie is the gloriously simple, cozy accessory that keeps your head warm (depending on how you choose to wear it) and your fits topped-off. Not all beanies are created equal, as a result. There’s a certain know-it-when-you-wear-it je ne sais quois to the best beanies—and to that end, we’re firm believers that there’s no such thing as the one best beanie. Most GQ editors have a stack of them, accumulated over time. Some were splurges—soft cashmere for a buzzcut head, maybe, or a freaked-out version to offset the midwanter blahs—and some were $12 gas station grails, with plenty in between.
To help you build out your roster, we’ve pulled together 25 of the best beanies we could find, in a variety of styles, fabrics, and colors. Give yourself some options. (And don’t sleep—we find the coolest beanies tend to go away right when the cold really kicks in.)
The Best Beanies Shopping Guide
The Best Beanie, Period
Warmth, softness, a length that’s neither clownishly slouchy nor impishly short, and a little visible luxury for good measure—that’s exactly what this Industry of All Nations number delivers in spades. It’s crafted from sustainably-sourced Bolivian alpaca wool, which feels like a newborn kitten against your skin and will keep your noggin toastier than a fresh mug of cocoa. It’s not cheap, at $80, but that’s a relative steal for a knit that’s rarer than cashmere, with a stealth wealth factor off the charts.
The Best Budget Beanie
When Uniqlo first landed stateside in 2007, the biggest draw to its sparkling NYC flagship was the towering wall of preposterously affordable cashmere sweaters. While we’re sad that its formidable and affordable cashmere beanies won’t be around for this season, the brand’s all-cotton ribbed beanies pretty damn great—and even more wearable year-round. The cotton is smooth, soft, and breathable (a godsend for those of us with sensitive skin), and the hat comes in all sorts of natural, easy-to-pair colors. Grab a few now and don’t worry much when you inevitably leave one in the back of an Uber.
The Best Splurge-Worthy Beanie
While Uniqlo is out here democratizing cashmere, SoCal’s The Elder Statesman remains focused on using it in the most relaxedly opulent ways possible. The brand generally follows the “if you have to ask” pricing principal, which leads to a $506 beanie. But damn—what you get for that kind of dough is 100% finest-of-the-fine cashmere mixed with silk, for both added softness and textile-based flexing, hand-dyed in a checkerboard blue. Laidback never looked so luxe.
The Best Suit-Ready Beanie
You’re probably used to seeing the word “donegal” attached to a beefy sweater worn by some guy with a beard and a few sheep, but the fabric has plenty to offer anyone who doesn’t live in the Scottish moors. In beanie form, the distinctly flecked wool has the weight to hang with a tweed suit and brogues and the looks to bring a little extra seasoning to your jeans-and-Blundstones weekend beater fits. Unsurprisingly, we’re fans of donegal beanies from Drake’s, worked up in all sorts of cool-weather colors—deep burgundy, burnt orange—that have some personality of their own.
The Best Throwback Beanie
As per usual, the best available version of a classically American thing—in this case, the old-school ribbed watch hats favored by WWII naval officers, Boston dock workers, and every third person in the Rocky movies—comes from Japan. RoToTo’s traditional fisherman beanies are knit from a tough-as-nails acrylic blend, and will look best paired with some ruddy cheeks and a lovably gruff attitude.
The Best Cable Knit Beanie
Inverallan, the U.K. knitwear savants behind our favorite chunky cable knit cardigan, also apply their untouchable cable-knitting prowess to headwear. Chances are, if something is warm enough for a Scottish fisherman battling before-dawn winds on the North Sea, it’s warm enough for your 40-minute commute.
The Best Eco-Friendly Beanie
Recycling is good for the planet and your fits. This stretchy, chunky beanie from Patagonia uses a fully-recycled blend of polyester fleece to keep your noggin supremely toasty.
The Best Cute-As-Hell Beanie
Made from a comfy mohair-blend dyed a dazzling array of red, yellow, and baby blue, Marni’s beanie brings a funky, winter-appropriate twist on the bucket knit hat you lived in all summer. Wear it with…anything. Don’t overthink this hat.