Summer is finally making its presence felt, which means it’s time to start pulling out those warm-weather pieces. You’ll likely have your sunglasses sorted by now, but have you started thinking about hats?
To save you from reaching for that trusty battered beanie, we’ve pulled together a comprehensive guide on hats for the summer.
So, from the most important styles to how to find the one that suits you, here’s how to get headwear right this season.
The Baseball Cap
First developed by the Brooklyn Excelsiors in 1860, the baseball cap became widely popular by 1900 and the style’s continued use in the sport is why we still love them today.
A baseball cap either comes ‘fitted’ (in predetermined diameters) or with a plastic, Velcro or elastic adjuster, which allows the cap to adapt to the wearer’s head size; ‘snapback’ is a name now widely used to identify modern baseball caps that feature the classic plastic snaps fastening system.
This type of hat might have been the ideal accompaniment to tie-dye T-shirts and baggy jeans in the 1990s, but recent seasons have seen the style work its way into the modern sports luxe and athleisure uniform.
For a contemporary streetwear look, try wearing patterned or slogan designs with longline tees and vests in black/white, slim jeans/joggers, and a pair of leather trainers. Alternatively, for a nattier take, opt for a minimal, plain colour style made from premium fabric and combine with a shirt and some tailored shorts.
“Simple outfits can be accessorised with a good snapback,” says Arianna Larelli, a design assistant at Topman. “Clean Scandi-inspired styling – think minimal outfits with strong lines such as tailored shirts and fitted trousers – can really benefit from a good baseball cap.”
The Bucket Hat
If you’re not all that hot on the snapback, the humble bucket hat makes for an on-trend alternative. The bucket hat – also known as the fisherman’s hat – was introduced around 1900, originally being crafted from wool or tweed and worn by Irish farmers for protection while ploughing the fields, lending them the early nickname ‘Irish walking hats’.
Later, during the Vietnam War, US soldiers wore cotton versions of the bucket hat and – much like contemporary staples such as chinos and the bomber jacket – the style was appropriated for civilian use following the conflict as they became popular among the peace movements of the 1960s and 1970s, and later, the dance music movement of the 1990s.
Fast-forward to 2015 and they are trending again, after making a controversial return to fashion’s collective consciousness last spring/summer. Like the snapback, they combine well with streetwear-inspired pieces such as printed vests and oversized/skater-fit tees, as well as casual warm-weather staples such as short-sleeved shirts and board shorts.
Unlike the baseball cap, however, the bucket hat is summer-specific, so remember to pack this one away once the sun starts to fade come September. “No one wants to see a bucket hat in winter,” says Adam Walker, Managing Editor of The Male Stylist. “It looks a tad tragic.”
Due to the range of designs and sizes available on the current market, snapbacks work with most face shapes, although those with short or round faces should be careful due to its wide front brim, which can make it appear smaller or wider than it is. Our advice would be to take some time to try on and experiment with a number of styles before purchasing.
A good quality cotton or wool hat in a colour you like will be a safe investment. While many snapbacks now include contrast stitch panels, default to your own personal taste when browsing. If in doubt, go for subtle details and muted shades rather than punchy prints or bold hues.
“Don’t buy a style simply because it’s currently trending. Instead, try a few on and look for versatile designs that will work with your existing wardrobe,” says Adam Walker.
The bucket hat, on the other hand, is best suited for long and round face shapes, with the angled downward facing brim providing a shortening and balancing effect, respectively.
Key Brands: Lifers, New Era, Topman, Brixton, Obey, Supra, Stussy, ASOS, Penfield, Ebbets Field Flannels, Vans, Supreme, Huf, Hype, Carhartt.
- Penfield Palm Leaf Bucket Hat In Black And Green
- Vans Undertone Bucket Hat In Blue
- Topman Black Striped Bucket Hat
- Asos Bucket Hat In Colour Block
- Lifers Seersucker Reversible Bucket Hat In Black
- New Era Bucket Hat With Orchid Print
- Penfield Baker Bucket Hat
- Obey Grandeur Bucket Hat
- A.p.c. Mens Navy Bob Bucket Hat
- New Era Melton 9fifty Giants Snapback – Size? Exclusive
- Lifers Neppy Snapback Cap In Black
- Stussy Stock Snapback Cap In Burgundy
- Asos Snap Back Cap In Off White With Floral Peak
- Topman Black Floral Snapback Cap
- New Era Fresh Snapback Cap
- Brixton Rift Snapback Cap
- Ebbets Field Flannels Two Tone Plain Strapback Cap
- Topman Charcoal Melton Snapback Cap
The Pork Pie
An umbrella term for a handful of hat styles that can trace their roots as far back as 1830, the pork pie hat is still going strong almost two centuries later.
Originally made popular in Britain at the beginning of the 20th century as the ‘man about town’ look became popular, the style saw a resurgence in the 1920s when American silent film actor Buster Keaton sported the hat in many of his films. The designs Keaton wore were actually self-made by converting fedoras and other hats into what we now know as the pork pie, complete with its signature flat top and short brim.
On the runway earlier this year, Kit Neale showed bright pork pies in primary colours for autumn/winter 2015, while Breaking Bad‘s Walter White, along with his alter ego Heisenberg’s clear penchant for a pork pie, has led to traditional iterations of the style becoming increasingly popular with a new generation.
More formal than the likes of the snapback and bucket hat, pork pie hats are well-suited to smarter attire. As Adam Walker puts it: “If you want to smarten up in the heat, the pork pie hat can add a classic feel to your sharper outfits.”
From summertime suiting to separates like short-sleeved shirts and lightweight chinos, this silhouette arguably works best with clothing that’s firmly on the spiffy end of the spectrum. You could try sporting a minimal pork pie with a streetwear-inspired ensemble, but it’s best to approach that route with caution – unless your name is Pharrell.
The pork pie’s traditionally stingy brim is best suited to gentlemen with shorter faces, as it will not overpower or make the face look smaller than it is.
A pork pie with a short, flat crown can also help to balance longer face types by giving the illusion of width without adding any extra height.
Those men with round or square faces should avoid this type of hat and instead opt for something like a fedora.
Key Brands: ASOS, Topman, Christys’, Bailey, Goorin, Jaxon, Kangol, Lock & Co., Ted Baker, M&S, New Look.
- Ted Baker Pietop Printed Trim Hat
- Bailey Waits Pork Pie Hat – Black
- Bailey Darron Pork Pie Hat – Tobacco
- Topman Straw Pork Pie Hat
- Asos Pork Pie Hat In Black Felt
- Autograph Pork Pie Trilby Hat
- New Look Black Contrast Trim Straw Hat
- Jaxon Hats Crushable Pork Pie – Brown
- Goorin Brothers Julito Collazo Pork Pie Hat – Tan
- Jaxon Hats Crushable Pork Pie – Black
- Kangol Hats Kross Pork Pie Hat – Natural
- Reggie Pork Pie Bleached
The ideal hat for the man looking to make a statement while sheltering from the summer sun, the typical fedora is 4.5 inches high and includes a crease along the length of the hat, with a ‘pinch’ towards the front.
Derived from a traditional Tyrolean brimmed hat, the fedora first became popular in Europe in the early 20th century, with its fame extending to the US in 1924 when a style worn by Prince Edward while on a royal visit was copied and mass-produced by Sears Roebuck.
Although classic felt and wool designs can be worn year-round (even in summer), making them an excellent addition to any modern hat collection, lightweight straw fedoras are most suited to the warmer months of the year, with their woven construction allowing your head to breath while offering the required UV protection.
When it comes to styling, try a black straw/wool fedora with a simple cotton collarless shirt or linen Henley and a pair of straight-leg trousers. Chelsea boots will complete this smart look, while loafers or drivers can help you pull off a more casual brown felt or beige straw design, worn with a simple slub T-shirt and slim jeans combination.
Today, the fedora comes in a wide variety of brim widths, materials and crown types (even the positioning of the pinch can vary), which means the style can work for the majority of face shapes.
Here are some quick tips when it comes to picking your perfect style:
- Short Faces: Go for tapered crowns, which provide a lengthening effect. Avoid wide brims that will make your face appear shorter than it is and tilt your fedora back slightly.
- Long Faces: A medium or short crown height is best, as you don’t want to add even more length to your face. The brim should be wider in order to add width and balance, while you would also benefit from tilting your hat slightly forward.
- Square Faces: Opt for a wide-brimmed fedora with a full or round crown and fully snapped up brim – its natural curvature will help counterbalance your straight-edged jaw line.
- Round Faces: Round faces tend to appear a little short, so try a medium height crown with a slight taper to help lengthen. A wider brim that is fully snapped up will add angles and definition to this face type.
Key Brands: AllSaints, Goorin, Borsalino, Lock & Co., Bates of Jermyn Street, Christys’, Brixton, Catarzi, River Island, Topman, John Lewis.
- Allsaints Bronson Fedora
- Brixton Messer Fedora Hat
- Catarzi Wide Brim Fedora Hat
- Goorin Snare Wide Brim Fedora Hat
- Catarzi Wide Brim Fedora Hat
- Borsalino Rabbit-felt Fedora Hat
- Christys Hats Foldaway Fedora – Brown
- Brixton Baxter Straw Fedora
- River Island Green Straw Fedora Hat
- Topman Straw Fedora
- John Lewis Seagrass Fedora Hat Navy
The Panama Hat
A Panama hat is a brimmed straw hat that was originally produced in Ecuador in the 17th century. Traditionally woven by hand from toquilla straw, which only grows in the coastal mountains of Ecuador, to this day the best versions on the market still come from Cuenca, the most accessible city in the mountain region, where the majority of the weaving is carried out.
The perfect accompaniment to a cotton or linen summer suit due to their breathable open weave, Panama hats have long been associated with tropical leisure time. Having experienced a rise in popularity over the past couple of years, Burberry was one of the brands to really champion the style for spring/summer 2015, effectively confirming that now is the time to give the Panama a whirl.
“Lightweight hats are always great for days at the beach, music festivals or holidays – the Panama hat works well on warm summer nights as it won’t look ridiculous once the sun goes down,” explains Adam Walker.
We suggest teaming a straw or cotton Panama with neutral- or pastel-coloured lightweight suiting, a breathable linen shirt and pair of suede loafers for an ensemble that wouldn’t look out of place at Pitti Uomo.
And it’s best to keep your outfit simple. “Overcomplicated styling will ruin a look,” says Arianna Larelli. “Too much going on in one outfit will just seem cluttered and you want to aim for a thrown together relaxed feel.” So that’s a no to a boating blazer, pink shirt and anchor-print chinos, we’re afraid.
Panama hats come in a multitude of styles and silhouettes – including both the fedora and pork pie – because it is the construction technique and materials used that essentially makes this type of hat a ‘Panama’.
Therefore, heed the advice given in previous sections above and pick a hat shape and brim width that suits your particular face type.
Key Brands: Loro Piana, Marks & Spencer, Reiss, Goorin, Borsalino, Lock & Co., Christys’, Jigsaw, Gucci, Howick, River Island, Olney, Charles Tyrwhitt, John Lewis, Jack Wills.
- River Island White Straw Panama Hat
- Olney Wide Brim Panama Hat Natural
- M&s Collection Luxury Panama Hat
- M&s Collection Straw Panama Hat
- Loro Piana Toquilla Straw Panama Hat
- Jigsaw Panama Hat
- Reiss Salt Woven Panama Hat Stone
- John Lewis Panama Hat Natural
- Lock & Co Hatters Classic Woven-straw Panama Hat
- Panama Hat
- Gucci Woven-straw Panama Hat
- Christys Exclusive Liberty Panama Straw Hat White/blue
Whichever hat you go for this summer, it’s worth thinking about longevity. What suits you and your existing wardrobe? And which hats are adaptable to the majority of your favourite looks?
Finally, there’s only one rule you need to remember when trying to pull off any style of headwear, as Arianna Larelli explains: “Just wear your hat with confidence, that’s the real key.”
What’s your go-to hat? And how do you like to style it?
Make sure you let us know in the comments section.