Guys, we made it. Summer’s officially in full swing, and after the year we’ve all had, we’re pledging to soak up every damn minute. That means putting last year’s lockdown memories in storage to make room for the greatest summer of our lives. You’ve got our permission to play hooky from the mundanities of everyday life: Go ahead and take Wednesday’s Zoom calls from the beach. Squeeze in one more beer the last five minutes of happy hour. We’re all for it. But as carefree as we’ll be feeling this summer, there are two things we won’t be fooling around with: style and sun protection. That’s where bucket hats come in.
In the same vein as other retro summer staples, the bucket list has made quite the comeback. With its return, the bucket hat also reminds us it’s just as functional as it is trendy. With a brim that slants downward, the bucket hat is a great defense from the sun pounding down—not just on your face, but your neck too. It’s a story that began in turn-of-the-20th-century Ireland, when the bucket hat was invented as a foldable, convenient accessory worn by agricultural workers and fishermen. Originally constructed of cotton-tweed, the headwear was naturally water-resistant and featured a just-wide-enough floppy brim to provide ample protection for outdoorsmen who worked in the rain and sun (though knowing Ireland, there was probably a lot more of the former).
Throughout the 20th century, the cotton bucket hat became a staple in military uniforms in the following decades, eventually spawning its brother style, the flatter-brimmed boonie. But when the eclectic mod fashion movement of the ’60s rolled around, the bucket found its way into lookbooks in a variety of fabrics and colorways. In the ‘80s, it was on the head of every rapper and hip-hop artist, from Run-DMC to LL Cool J (who we can’t even picture without his red Kangol). And this year, the bucket hat’s resurgence in popularity is impossible to ignore. With these eight versions we’ve selected, there’s simply no excuse not to seek shade under a bucket hat this summer.
The Most Stylish Bucket Hats for Men
1. Diop Mud Navy Bucket Hat (shown above)
Inspired by prints, patterns, and motifs of the African diaspora, Nigerian-American designer Mapate Diop founded his eponymous label to encourage people to “feel connected to the truest sense of who [they] are.” Diop’s Mud Navy Bucket Hat comes in breathable 100 percent cotton, in both small and large sizes.
2. Neighborhood Dusters Bucket Hat
Made in Japan, Neighborhood’s floppy Dusters bucket hat comes in a cotton-nylon blend with an adjustable drawcord that wraps around the crown. An extended rim on the back offers solid sun protection for your neck, and an interior mesh panel assists with temperature control.
3. Prada Re-Nylon Bucket Hat
If there’s one bucket hat to splurge on, this classic black piece from Prada is it. Come for the sleek versatile look (complete with tonal cotton twill lining and the iconic triangle enameled logo plaque), and stay for the eco-friendly recycled nylon gabardine fabric.
4. Kangol Utility Cords Jungle Hat
Storied British hatmaker Kangol turns 83 this year, and still endures as one of the definitive purveyors of bucket hats. The Utility Cords Jungle is a new style that comes in cotton canvas. In case the chin cord with color-dipped tips doesn’t prevent you from losing this bad boy, the flashy shades of red and blue should help.
5. Jacquemus Green ‘Le Bob Gadjo’ Hat
Jacquemus kills the hat game with his range of supremely stylish head coverings, but we’re going for his shorter-brimmed version of the bucket hat: Le Bob Gadjo. It’s sturdy and water resistant thanks to beeswax finishing on the canvas. It boasts other cool features like a rear self-tie drawcord, a topstitched edge, and a silver Jacquemus logo on the forehead.
6. Stetson Waxed Cotton Bucket Hat
Whether you’re putting on the golf course or deep-sea fishing, Stetsons’ bucket hats will keep you nice and shaded in the midday sun. This version is made of British Millerain waxed cotton—the original manufacturer of the weather-resistant fabric—so it’ll stay dry when splashed with water and gain a cool patina over time.
7. Acne Studios Cotton-Twill Bucket Hat
Acne Studios’ navy cotton-twill bucket hat features the Swedish brand’s signature face patch embroidered on the side, and an internal browband to keep it snug on your noggin. It’s also stonewashed to lend a slightly faded appearance and has an interior lining with a contrasting brown shade.
8. Universal Works Printed Cotton Bucket Hat
Form meets function with Universal Works’ ultra-lightweight bucket hats, which feature a mesh lining and eyelets for enhanced ventilation on the hottest of days. The cult-favorite English brand sources cotton from a mill in Osaka, Japan, and makes their bucket hats in a range of camo-inspired patterns, including this tropical jungle theme.