Are Bucket Hats Unisex?

We’ve heard the queries of many people about whether or not bucket hats can be worn by both men and women. So we wrote this article to give you a complete answer.

Are bucket hats unisex? The design of bucket hats is gender-neutral. Men and women first wore bucket hats as a protection from the rain because of the wide, downward-sloping brim and the heavy-duty cotton material. Since then, bucket hats have evolved into a fashionable accessory for women and a military uniform for men.

While bucket hats are generally wearable across sexes, major social faux pas can happen when the selection and styling processes go wrong. Just like any other unisex accessory, the supposedly easy sporting of bucket hats can be a hit-or-miss affair. Don’t be a fashion victim and read this thorough guide on how to select and style bucket hats wisely.

Selecting the Right Bucket Hat

Selection is the key to successful styling. A number of factors influence the selection of bucket hats: brand names, designs, materials, prices, availability, and so on. However, all these seemingly confusing factors fall under one simple question: What are you using the bucket hat for?

Purpose is supreme. Once you know your ‘why’, answering your ‘which’ question is easy-peasy. Let’s take a look at the question, ‘which material to choose for a bucket hat’. The list of material options is:

  • Cotton - appropriate for warm weather

  • Denim - great for cold weather

  • Nylon or polyester - durable, waterproof, and breathable, easily the ideal material for outdoor activities

  • Fur, wool, plastic, or straw - unconventional materials for bucket hats, great for fashion statements

Say, you are buying a bucket hat for your next Bali trip and you anticipate rainy weather. You’ll want a hat that’s travel-friendly, versatile, and weather-proof. Immediately, your choice will be narrowed down to nylon or polyester. 

The same holds true when you want a hat for a themed party. Know your purpose and simply choose a bucket hat that matches your purpose. Once you do, styling becomes second nature. 

To further help you with classifying what appears to be a varied collection, we’ve categorized three different bucket hat types: basic, fast-fashion, and custom hats. 


Basic Bucket Hats

“Slow fashion” staples like basic bucket hats were invented for practical purposes. Originally, bucket hats were called fisherman hats. In the early 1900s, Irish farmers and fishermen relied on buckets hats to shield them from the sun and the rain. The hat is designed with a downward-sloping brim, wide enough to direct the raindrops to the ground. They also have eyelets in the crown that ensure good ventilation during hot or humid weather.

Tips: Do stick to the basics, and the basic bucket hats are plain-colored, functional hats that can be easily folded and shoved into your pockets and bags. Pick solid unisex colors of green, red, black, cream, and brown with minimal prints. White bucket hats are great but prone to dirt and stains. 

Fast Fashion Bucket Hats

Learn to distinguish between a fad and a classic piece. Recently, transparent bucket hats are making a grand come back in the fashion world. You see models accenting their voguish outfits with clear, structured bucket hats. They’re trendy and unisex, you might want to invest in a few pieces to spice up your wardrobe.

Nonetheless, these fast fashion items are not as timeless and versatile as you’d like them to be. Some can be worn multiple times, but many others are reserved for special occasions only, or are very context specific. Let’s look at a few examples:

  • Colorful ribbon bucket hats are cute, and you see Korean men fashion endorsing them. But in other cultures, this style is associated more with femininity.

  • Sturdy transparent plastic bucket hats are fashionable. Men and women can wear them, too. But they cannot be neatly folded without creating unpleasant lines.

  • Straw bucket hats give off the perfect vintage summer vibe. They’re unisex and catchy, yet less versatile and rather inconvenient to carry around. 

Tips: Do go out of your comfort zone. Mix and match different sorts of hats, not just bucket hats. Buy a few artsy pieces at reasonable prices. Style variation is great, but don’t splurge on fast-fashion items. They quickly go out of season.

Custom Bucket Hats

Personalization is a top trend even in the fashion world. You only have to invest in affordable basic bucket hats, then proceed to customize them. Add patches, ribbons, prints, and stones to your otherwise generic-looking bucket hats. You can even go to the extent of dyeing your hat. 

Tips: Try personalizing. It’s a fun and engaging process. Plus, you can be sure you don’t bump into somebody with exactly the same hat. Do seek design inspirations from the web, magazines, or from friends. You can print or embed initials, logos, and gems. Keep the design minimal for wearability purposes. Try a basic black bucket hat. Black is a great color to play with and doesn’t get dirty easily. 

Style Guide for Bucket Hats

An ugly hat can look spectacular when worn with style. Let’s get you ready for sporting your bucket hats.

Generally speaking, men and women follow different styling patterns for clothes and shoes. But interestingly, with bucket hats, styling guides can be unisex.


The most visible way to style bucket hats is to accessorize them. Feel free to instantly attach your statement pins and buttons to your bucket hats. They add more individuality to your otherwise plain commercial hats.

Play with the folds and angles

The easiest styling technique is to play with the folds and angles. Here, I’ll walk you through three main looks. First up: the street style look. Bucket hats were popularized by rappers like LL Cool J in the 90s. You can imitate the look by wearing the hat low on your head and pairing it with a camouflage-print clothing. 

A casual look is achieved by simply tipping the hat at an angle or folding up the brim at the front of the hat. In terms of color, lighter hats exude a more relaxed vibe. Pair your casual bucket hats with softer fabrics such as cotton pants (for men) or boyfriend jeans (for women) to complete the casual look.

Finally, the formal look has a more serious appeal. Dark-colored, structured hats will fit the criteria. Try to wear your bucket hats straight on your head without any brim folds. This gives you a slight air of Charlie Chaplin (even if his was a bowler hat).

Mix and Match

Hats are accents. You cannot focus too much on styling a hat without investing in a proper outfit. More so, the mix and match process is a bit complex: something you learn with experience. So don’t be afraid to experiment.

Street-style looks use camouflage bucket hats, tight tops and baggy, ripped jeans. Casual looks are created with cream cotton hats folded on the sides, paired with dresses (women) and loose pants/shorts (men). Formal styles combine the classic black wool or felt bucket hats and a suit.

Yes, the looks are conventional. But you can always pair a preppy hat with a structured dress or a military hat with casual jeans. Sport outfits look cool with the rustic fisherman hats, too. Don’t be afraid to wear your water-proof, chin-strapped bucket hat over your down jackets next winter.


The Best Bucket Hat

If you search the web, so many items pop up in the list that you end up more confused. While there is no one “best bucket hat”, you will definitely find a great one if you look for the following features:

Functional - wide brim, giving maximum sun protection

Durable - quality fabric

Stylish, but not “trendy” - easy to mix and match

Convenient - foldable travel-sized hats

Sustainably made - environmentally-friendly dye