The Balaclava Is The Surprising Fashion Accessory Of Winter (Yes, Really)

Say hello to a warm head.

Paola Locatelli wearing a yellow balaclava

by Natalie Hammond |

You're either a hat person or you're not a hat person. But even hat people might find the latest trend in headwear a little - how should we put it? - head-scratching. Balaclavas. According to global search platform Lyst, balaclavas (and, crucially, their slightly more wearable cousin, the knitted hood), should be on your radar this winter. In mid-October, global searches were up 64%, with shoppers saving balaclavas from Paloma Wool, New Balance, Weekday, and Miu Miu (the luxury brand responsible for the balaclava brigade), to their wishlists. Since then, they've trickled down to the high street - and made major waves on TikTok and Instagram (@mimimoocher's post got almost 30,000 likes).

All the influencers wore Miu Miu's, which, with its buttoned chin fastening and ever-so-slight peak, almost look like high-fashion bonnets. Sounds weird, but it's something really quite wonderful when you see it on Paola Locatelli. She styled hers with a faux-fur coat, bare legs and chunky stomper boots, proving that there's nothing babyish about the bonnet.

Alexa Chung wearing a bonnet
Alexa Chung wearing a bonnet ©Getty

As well as luxury and high street brands, a crop of independent knitwear designers has cornered the market when it comes to handmade balaclavas. ROWS, a knitwear brand based in York, makes knitted hoods to order in yellow, blue, white, brown and natural (although you can also contact the team to enquire about custom colours). And for anyone feeling the stirrings of creativity, you can also download the knitting pattern for £4.50.

MILA Èt MILA, a handmade knitwear and jewellery brand based in Berlin, is another influencer-favourite. She has all kinds of styles made from merino, angora, cashmere, mohair and cotton, available in sugary shades like candy floss and pistachio.

Finally for some styling advice. Since the balaclava/bonnet is kind of like a bow - naturally very sweet - you need a counteracting force like pumped-up trainers, a puffer jacket or some cargo pants (Locatelli's stomper boots would also do the trick) to make it look grown-up. Suddenly, winter's not looking so bad, is it?


SHOP: The Best Balaclavas

Shrimps, Bram Bonnet, £195
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& Other Stories, Knitted Cashmere Hood, £40
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Miu Miu, Crochet Virgin Wool Hat, £420
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Ruslan Baginskiy, Hooded Cotton-Blend Snood, £130
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Reserved, Ladies Cowl, £19.99
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Penelope Chilvers, Ribbed Wool Balaclava, £149
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Rows, Bug Hood Lemon, £65
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Zara, Ribbed Knit Hood, WAS £14.99 NOW £5.99
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Maje, Wool-Blend Balaclava, £55.30
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Weekday, Lotta Hood, £18
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Reserved, Wool-Blend Balaclava Beanie, £29.99
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Paloma Wool, Angels II Balaclava, £50
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Weekday, Harmony Hood, £18
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Baum Und Pferdgarten, Lizzi Hat, £59
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