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When it comes to fashion, aesthetics play a significant role. However, many fashion staples have had a lasting impact because they are not only fashionable but also functional. One such item was the bucket hat.
The bucket hat appeared in the early 1900s in Ireland as a way to protect farmers and fishermen from the elements. The downward-slanting brim helped shield wearers from the rain. The original hats were made of raw wool that contained waterproof lanolin. They were easy to clean, and you could fold them to fit in your pocket, making them highly portable.
Years later, bucket hats became standard issue for the troops during World War II and the Vietnam War. These hats were made of olive cotton for camouflage and were used to protect the heads and necks of soldiers. Since troops were stationed in jungles, the lightweight cotton hats provided more relief from the heat than the traditional wool alternatives would have.
While the bucket hat served as a functional piece of clothing for many years, it wasn’t until the 1960s that it became fashionable. At the height of the mod movement, new bucket hats were made of felt and other stiff fabrics to maintain a particular aesthetic for women’s hats. However, the traditional tweed fabric remained popular among men throughout the 1970s.
In the 1980s, the bucket hat became the sought-after headgear for rappers in the hip-hop community. Many rappers wore these style of hats in music videos and on album covers. However, despite its popularity among rappers, the bucket hat never quite acquired the fame of other hats.
Some believe the reason for the hat’s lack of popularity has to do with its utilitarian roots. Others believe its association with characters like Bob Denver from the TV show “Gilligan’s Island” has impacted the general perception of the hat.
However, despite not being considered high-fashion, bucket hats persist as a style option and even make appearances on the runway from time to time. Within the last decade, several designers have tried to revive the hat by creating variations on the old design, including bringing the hat back to its functional, waterproof roots. Additionally, they have found a niche market among professional archers, since the flexible brim is perfect for shielding an archer’s eyes from the sun while not interfering with the string of the bow.
While we don’t see crowds filled with bucket-hatted heads, there’s no denying that it’s a favorite within certain circles. Even though the bucket hat hasn’t made a full-fledged return to fashion, it’s still considered a classic hat and won’t likely go away anytime soon.