The 7 Best Buckets for Every Summer Look

Lack of Color’s Wave Bucket Hat combines the boldest colors with the coziest materials.

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Best Bucket Hats
Photo: Lack of Color/ Karen Mabon/ Amazon/ InStyle

Let's state the obvious: bucket hats are everywhere. The simple hat can be seen on everyone from Rihanna to Hailey Bieber, and according to JewelleryBox it's the eighth most popular trend of the last century. We definitely associate the hats with rappers, TikTok stars, and models today, but the accessory's origin is maybe a little less glamorous with a rich history behind it.

Resembling a bucket worn over your head, the lightweight hat protected Irish fishermen from the elements and was later adopted by different countries as part of their military uniforms, according to blog Hat Realm. Soon it started to make pop culture appearances on shows like 1960s' Gilligan's Island. It reached peak popularity in the '80s and '90s with the growing influence of hip hop. Artists like Big Bank Hank, LL Cool J, Run DMC, Aaliyah, and Enimen consistently sported the headpiece, making it a cultural symbol.

"There's a cool element to bucket hats which keeps them as a consistent staple in headwear all while protecting you from the sun," says celebrity stylist Jared DePriest Gilbert. "Someone wearing a bucket hat almost instantly passes the vibe check."

If you haven't jumped on the bandwagon yet, now's the time. We spoke to stylists and bucket-loving influencers to find the best hats — we even tested a few ourselves on the steamy streets of L.A. We crowned Lack of Color's Wave Bucket Hat the Best Overall since it offers that classic shape in bold colors and a seasonless material that's lightweight and comfortable.

Below, the best bucket hats to buy right now.

Our Top Picks

Best Overall: Lack of Color Wave Bucket Hat

Best Bucket Hats
Lack of Color

Also available at Revolve and Saks Fifth Avenue

What We Like: Designed by the bucket hat experts, this style comes in vivid colors, hugs your head like a towel, and is seasonless.

What We Don't Like: There are no grommets, unlike in the style from Aerie, for extra breathability.

Don't let the name fool you — Lack of Color's bucket hats are anything but bland. Repeatedly recommended by my sources, the brand specializes in all sorts of hats, from straw to tweed. "I think I own almost every bucket they have at this point," says Los Angeles-based influencer Alyssa May. "But if I had to choose one, it'd definitely be my Green Wave Bucket. It's such a great pop of color for summer and also perfect for color-blocking with your outfits."

The style comes in 16 different shades, including two animal prints. The fuzzy terry fabric can be worn all year round. But for the summer months, it doubles as a towel for your head — you can just plop it on after you get out of the pool or shower. The vegan fabric has a UPF rating of 50, so it will really protect your hair and scalp from sun damage. "Overall, I just love the quality," says May. "It's super comfy, I can wear mine for hours without any issues."

Materials: 100% Cotton | Colors: 16 | Brim: 7.5 cm

Best Splurge: Prada Nylon Bucket Hat

best bucket hats
Courtesy

Also available at Prada

What We Like: The Nylon material of this street-wear staple repels rain.

What We Don't Like: Because it's not very breathable, the material may overheat your head.

Both stylists and influencers interviewed recommend the Prada Nylon Bucket Hat as a must for those ready to seriously invest in the trend. Wishi stylist Yasmin Moinian calls it classic thanks to its authentic silhouette. Fashion influencer Sharena Chindavong picked the red for the pop of color but fell further in love with the hat's functionality. "It's nylon, so it's my go-to rain hat," says Chindavong. "It's perfect because I hate carrying an umbrella."

Made from recycled nylon, the hat retains more heat compared to other materials, so Chindavong likes to wear it in the winter in addition to rainy weather. As demonstrated by the #PradaBucketChallenge, which showcases influencers like Bella Poarch and Lil Huddy styling their own Prada bucket, the hat can be worn in so many different ways.

Materials: Regenerated Nylon Yarn, Cotton Lining | Colors: 14 | Brim: 5.6 cm

Best Value: Aerie Terry Bucket Hat

best bucket hats
Courtesy

What We Like: Nearly identical to the best overall, this design comes at a quarter of the price.

What We Don't Like: We wish it came in more colors.

Aerie's Terry Bucket Hat hat brought me out of my baseball cap rut. When I saw it online, it instantly reminded me of Lack of Color's Wave Bucket Hat. After receiving a complimentary sample, I can confirm it's just as stylish and comfy but practically a quarter of the price — a perfect dupe, if you will. Though it doesn't come in as many shades and sizes, the terry material looks identical (I chose Poet, a nice cobalt blue, that's almost identical to LOC's).

Wearing hats in the summer makes me nervous with the thought of greasy strands and sweat dripping down my forehead. Yet even as I wore this bucket by the pool, I wasn't overheated and itching to take it off. The fabric is slightly floppy but sturdy enough to flip up the brim to take a poolside selfie. It's easy to fold, so you can stow it away into your carry on for your next getaway.

We know this isn't the cheapest option on our list (The Hat Depot's Bucket hat took that award), but because of how closely it resembled our best overall, we'd be remiss not to call it out.

Materials: 100% Cotton | Colors: 4 | Brim: 6.5 cm

Best Color Range: The Hat Depot Bucket Hat

Best Bucket Hats
Amazon

Also available at The Hat Depot

What We Like: With more than 40 colors and a low price, you can stock up on this basic design without breaking the bank.

What We Don't Like: Reviewers say it runs large.

Recommended by fashion vlogger anonymously known as Mercy in her bucket hat vlog, this hat comes in more than 40 different colors. Stock up on bold and neutral tones or even some denim washes for an easy way to match your outfit. Made from 100 percent cotton, the hat is lightweight and even has grommets for extra breathability. DePriest Gilbert recommends choosing a simple design like this one in a neutral shade or favorite color for those new to the trend. That way you can test the waters without going too deep (financially speaking that is).

Materials: 100% Cotton | Colors: 42 | Brim: 5.5 cm

Best Printed: Karen Mabon Sun Hat

Best Bucket Hats
Karen Mabon

What We Like: Be ready for your next pool party with this hat's whimsical prints and extra-wide brim.

What We Don't Like: It's one size fits all, so it may be too big or small for some heads.

What better way to spice up a plain swimsuit than with a bucket hat in a cheeky print? As a designer and illustrator in London, Karen Mabon infuses all her hand-drawn prints with stories and characters. For those more comfortable with sun hats than bucket hats, this wide brim design is a good foray into the trend.

"I never thought of myself as a bucket hat person, but Karen Mabon kindly gifted me this hat, and I thought I'd give it a swing," says Chloe Anello, Senior Commerce Fashion Editor at InStyle. "Because it technically is a sun hat, rather than a typical bucket hat, it has a wider brim that fans out, giving me more sun protection. I find the ceramics print irresistible, too, but it comes in a plethora of others — breakfast, leopards, fruit, to name a few — for those less interested in having vases and plates splayed across their heads."

With its oversized fit and cotton makeup, the hat is breathable enough for beach days and it can withstand the surf n' turf. Got a little sunscreen or sand on the hat? Simply throw it in the wash.

Materials: 100% Cotton | Colors: 6 | Brim: 9.5 cm

Related: The Best Bikinis

Best Fuzzy: Lack of Color Teddy Bucket

best bucket hats
Courtesy

What We Like: Warm yet stylish, this sherpa bucket will replace your favorite beanie.

What We Don't Like: Reviewers say it tends to run large.

Beanies are too predictable, opt for a fuzzy bucket hat like Kendall Jenner instead. Even though May lives in Los Angeles, she likes to wear her sherpa bucket from, of course, Lack of Color on chillier days (supermodel Elsa Hosk has taken a few snaps in it too). Compared to other faux fur buckets — like Emma Brewin's bucket hat seen on the likes of Rihanna, Emily Ratajkowski, and Sophie Turner — this one isn't so fuzzy it resembles a Russian Ushanka (for the uninitiated, here's one), and the three neutral colors allow for easy integration into your wardrobe. Plus, the fabric is so soft, it'll feel like a warm hug for your head.

"Lack of Color has done such a great job creating the perfect build for a bucket hat and their selection of fabrics really helps make them stand out from the rest," says May. "I think it really helps that they offer different sizes, so that you can find one that fits well and won't give you any headaches."

Materials: Polyester | Colors: 3 | Brim: 7.5 cm

Best Straw: Janessa Leone Felix

best bucket hats
Courtesy

Also available at Revolve and Shopbop

What We Like: Combining crochet and the bucket silhouette, this style checks off two trends in one.

What We Don't Like: It's a little pricey.

If you're like me, wearing a huge beach hat just isn't your style. Luckily, a straw bucket like this one can be a happy alternative to the summer staple. Janessa Leone's selection stood out to me for their elegance. The hats have a taller crown and longer brim than traditional silhouettes, which lends them an air of sophistication, not to mention more sun protection.

I was kindly gifted the Felix, and the design looks even better in person. The raffia is very fine and lightweight, meaning there's no odd pieces sticking out, and it doesn't feel itchy or heavy after hours of wear. Plus it's crocheted, knocking off two trends in one, a la Hailey Bieber. The softness makes it packable and a little floppy, oozing beach vibes. Yet the chestnut shade looks so rich, I can definitely wear it in more upscale venues too. Honestly, I think I've been converted.

Materials: Crocheted Raffia Straw | Colors: 5 | Brim: 8.9 cm

Related: The Best Sun Hats

What to Keep in Mind

Materials

Consider what season you're shopping for when looking for a bucket hat, according to Wishi stylist Jesse Blumberg. For the summer, choose lightweight and breathable fabrics like cotton, terry, and straw. During colder months, a faux fur or sherpa bucket keeps you warm. And like Chindavong pointed out, a nylon bucket hat is perfect for the rain.

Color

From solids to psychedelic prints, the beauty of bucket hats is they come in so many different colors and prints.

"For someone new to the trend, I would advise selecting one that is a solid color, preferably black, white, or your favorite colors — mine is green," says DePriest Gilbert. "This way you can easily integrate clothing that already exists in your personal wardrobe and begin to get a feel for the different looks you can achieve while organically opting to wear."

Once you get more comfortable with styling the accessory, go bolder, like May who has more than 12 hats in her collection. "I am always looking for something vibrant with pops of color or fun patterns because it's the perfect way to add some personality to an outfit," says May.

Fit

Even within the bucket hat category, there are different shapes and fits. The traditional design is somewhat snug and features a short brim while others have a looser fit and a wider brim. The original fit looks more sporty and streetwear, while the oversized version lends itself to leisurely activities like lounging on the beach where you need extra sun protection.

"I love the more oversized fit on me. I try to avoid bucket hats that are tight or have a short brim, as I personally don't think they suit my face shape," says May. "My best advice would be to try on different hats in person. Hats are all made so differently and you won't really know how the build is until you try it on. "

Your Questions, Answered

How do I style a bucket hat?

Perplexed on how to style a bucket hat? Take a cue from Hailey Bieber, bucket hat babe, who's worn the accessory with everything from a romper to a bikini. Katie Holmes is another enthusiast who styles her hats with jeans and baggy pants. The conclusion? The options are endless.

"From jeans, dresses, to anything athleisure. I find myself wearing bucket hats on a daily basis — whether it's going to work, a night out with friends, or just a casual day at the beach," says May. "If I ever feel like my outfit is missing something, I will always reach for a bucket to bring it all together."

How do I find my hat size?

While some hats are one size fits all, others range from small to large. To find your hat size, follow the steps below:

  1. Using a measuring tape or piece of string, evenly wrap it around your head until it overlaps. Be sure to keep it about 1 inch above your ears for the most accurate measurement.
  2. Read or measure the length in inches or centimeters.
  3. Refer to the brand's size guide to find your corresponding size.
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