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Cult item: bucket hat

By Matt Glazebrook, 31 May 2015

To be honest, we're as surprised as you. But it looks like the bucket hat is entering its second consecutive summer as the must-have unlikely retro accessory of the season. Perhaps it's its versatility that makes the humble bucket such a phoenix-like headgear choice: after all, how many other garments are equally at home on the heads of rhyme-slinging rap superstars, street-styling fashionistas, 80s Australian cricketers and gardening pensioners? Not many. To try to get to the bottom of its enduring appeal, we delve into the history of this most distinctive, divisive lid below.

cult item: bucket hat

Picture: Rex

Early days

The bucket hat first acquired its unique shape as part of the outerwear arsenal for turn-of-the-century Irish farmers and fishermen. The sloping brim helped sluice rainwater away from the noggin of the wearer (fairly essential, we imagine, for Irish farmers and fishermen), while the foldable cloth structure allowed for easy pocket stowage if the clouds parted. As the 20th century progressed, this humble headgear passed from the peasantry to the landed gentry, reimagined as a tweed 'walking hat' for the leisure classes (as modelled by Sean Connery in Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade).

cult item: bucket hat

Picture: Getty

The 80s

The bucket's practicality meant that a lightweight, canvas iteration proved popular wherever standing around in the sun was required, from anglers and cricket players to army grunts and desert-based gonzo journalists (Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas author Hunter S Thompson was a celebrated devotee). But it wasn't until a fresh-faced rapper out of New York named LL Cool J stuck a fuzzy red Kangol version on his bonce that the bucket hat emerged as a true youth style icon. 

cult item: bucket hat

Picture: Getty

The 90s

Across the Atlantic, it was guys with guitars rather than men with mics who claimed the bucket as a key staple of on-stage style. Stone Roses drummer Reni was rarely pictured without his eyes obscured by the bucket's brim in the late 80s and early 90s while, a few years later, Oasis frontman Liam Gallagher found the classic floppy brim ideal for glaring out moodily from. Even today, no festival is complete without a few roving gangs of lads clad in buckets and Fred Perry shirts, affecting the traditional Manchester lope.  

cult item: bucket hat

Picture: Getty


The latest bucket hat revival has been fuelled by traditional audiences as well as new ones. Rapper Schoolboy Q is probably the most prominent champion of the old-school-meets-new-school hip-hop bucket, but plenty of others, from Earl Sweatshirt to Kid Cudi, have hopped aboard the bandwagon. Make like Joey Bada$$ (left) and rock a camo version with comfy basics like brown chinos, a white tee and denim jacket for a classic street look.


At the same time, fashion folk of both genders (Rihanna is notable advocate) have taken the bucket in ever more high-end directions of late. Take a cue from the Rag & Bone SS15 collection (right) and match your hat to a crisply monochrome shirt and smart shorts combo for a ripped-from-the-catwalk smart/casj getup that's heatwave-ready without sacrificing your swag levels.