Bucket hats weren't always worn as a fashion statement. The bucket hat was invented in the early 1900s as a lightweight, easy-to-carry (and fold up into a pocket) type of protection for farmers and fishermen working outside. The lanolin used to make these early bucket hats made them naturally waterproof, and the downward sloping brim ensured rain went straight down and away from their face, hence it was initially designed as rain protection. It was later repurposed during the Vietnam War to protect soldiers' necks from sunburn and to keep their heads cool by being constructed of lightweight cotton.
Soon after, the 1960s took it upon themselves to transform it from a useful item into a fashion staple. Aside from the traditional felts and tweeds used to stiffen and create the bucket hat, it was also seen on several of the decade's icons, like Hunter S. Thompson and Bob Denver from Gilligan's Island. The bucket hat was reinvented once more in the 1970s, this time by Elton John and Big Bank Hank from The Sugar Hill Gang in 1979, paving the way for 80s Hip Hop musicians to elevate it to full street style prominence. The rappers of the 1980s are responsible for placing it on the fashion map.
The bucket hat has become synonymous with the 1990s, due to everything from skate culture to British pop stars wearing it as a fashion statement. Tyra Banks and other supermodels of the 1990s wore them with loose jeans and layered shirts.
Prada attempted to revive them in the mid-2000s by concealing them behind a bombardment of peacock feathers, and Jay Z wore one in his Big Pimpin' music video, which helped them recover some sort of cool factor. Still, they didn't really take off until the 2010s, when fashion decided it was time for bucket hats to make a comeback thanks to more hip hop and rap performers. Earl Sweatshirt, Kid Cudi, and Nas were all seen wearing one in the 2010s, before it stayed dormant for over a decade.
Bucket hats were officially deemed in by the fashion pack in 2018, and they were here to stay. In 2018, Rihanna donned a matching Versace snakeskin dress and bucket hat, which she later incorporated in her Fenty X Puma line, while premium companies like Chanel and Louis Vuitton conceded defeat and added a bucket hat in their S/S collections.
The bucket hat has never gone out of style since then, and it's still a great wardrobe necessity for this summer. We're not sure why we all adore it so much - perhaps it gives us a nostalgic nod, perhaps it's because it's universally flattering, or perhaps it's because we don't have to go on an endless search for the perfect one. They've been seen on the heads of everyone from supermodels to pop singers in every print, colour, and style conceivable, and they're not going anywhere.
How to Wear A Bucket Hat
A bucket hat is a must have for a festival ensemble. Spending long days exposed to the elements, either in the scorching sun or torrential rain, a bucket hat will keep your head dry and the rain out your face equally as well as it protects your neck and face from sun.
Go for an all-out street style approach by returning to the bucket hat's fashion beginnings. Baggy t-shirts, bermuda shorts, and oversized sweatshirt dresses, combined with tube socks, chunky trainers, and a statement bucket hat in a strong colour or design, will help you stay true to the bucket hat's OG aesthetic.
Keep it retro with a style influenced by the 1990s. For the ultimate casual Summer attitude, think slip dresses layered over t-shirts or cropped t-shirts and jeans. Bonus points since it shields you from the sun while still nailing this season's style.
If you want to stay true to the humble origins of the Bucket Hat (or Fishing Hat if you will), you can always don a pair of waders and spend the day fishing. Or if fishing isn’t your idea of a good time, they provide great protection from the elements while hiking.