A beanie is a popular type of hat traditionally worn by boys and men, although its popularity among females is on the rise. Beanies are typically simple hats made of cloth that do not have a brim. They were designed specifically for the purpose of keeping the head warm during winter months. Beanies are placed snugly against the head in order to trap heat, and received their name from the early 20th-century "bean," which was slang for "head."
One typical style of a beanie is made from triangular pieces of cloth that are woven together. Common materials used to make this type of beanie include twill, felt or leather. Woven beanies, or skullcaps, were the earliest form of hats and have been found by archaeologists on buried bodies in many countries. The woven variety of a beanie is very popular among laborers and those who participate in some sports because it keeps the sun and sweat out of the eyes.
Another type of beanie is the knit or crocheted variety. Also known as stocking caps or ski caps, these beanies are warm and stretchy, and are worn low on the head, with the cap covering the ears and forehead. Knit beanies are typically constructed from wool, fleece or another synthetic material. These beanies may be a solid color, or they may be branded with designer logos and insignias. Some knit beanies may also be adorned with a pompom. During the 1990s, the knit beanie became very popular with the grunge/skater crowd.
No discussion of beanie hats would be complete without the mention of a propeller beanie. This type of beanie was of the woven variety, and came complete with a propeller affixed to the top of the hat. Propeller beanies rose to popularity in the 1940s among the science fiction and geek/nerd demographic, but it was a fad that quickly faded. This hat spawned the phrase "propeller head," which was sometimes used to refer to technology-savvy individuals.
Beanie hats are also often referred to as: stocking caps, ski hats, toboggan hats, skull caps, knit caps, knit hats, wooly hats, or toques (mostly in Canada).
Beanies in Pop Culture
There have been many references to the beanie historically in popular culture. In the "Archie" comics, Jughead Jones could be seen wearing a type of beanie. Spanky from "The Little Rascals" and Goober Pyle from "The Andy Griffith Show" also often wore beanies.