Some throwback trends inspire more incredulity than others. While the return of crop tops and Clueless miniskirts should surprise exactly no one — those looked pretty hot the first time, after all — it's the pointedly ugly pulls from the back of our collective fashion closet that really get heads scratching. We're now two years deep into the Birkenstock revival. That's a lifetime in fashion — long enough for J.Crew to tout their return, Jeffrey Campbell to knock them off, and Fashionista to declare them dead. And yet, my white Birks still make guys literally point and laugh on the subway. Ditto the baggy jersey: Man repelling is real, guys.
And yet, the '90s revival marches on unfazed. And this time, it's churned up another defiantly unsexy nugget from our past: Yes, ladies, it's the bucket hat. The floppy headgear most recently associated with tourist moms, babies at the beach, and late-period Woody Allen has been staging a legit fashion comeback. It's been spotted at men's and women's fashion shows from Burberry to Isabel Marant, leading The Guardian to pose the Seinfeldian question, "Bucket hats: what's the appeal?"
But, the versions spotted on the catwalks are the result of a trickle-up effect that's been slow-burning for a couple years now. This is, first and foremost, a hip-hop, streetwear trend, as anyone who's visited a Supreme store, or follows A$ap Rocky or Schoolboy Q on Instagram will surely know. Understanding that the reference points are more L.L. Cool J in a Kangol and '80s b-boys than babies in need of sun protection is the key to understanding the bucket hat's appeal.
Rihanna's recent embrace of the style has been deemed the defining fashion moment of the World Cup finals. And, for good reason: RiRi makes the bucket hat look tough and sexy instead of its default mode, goofy and sexless — an alchemy that Aaliyah was probably the last star to master. We're officially calling it a tipping point: This is the summer the bucket hat goes big. Find yourself a fly one, pull the brim low, put all thoughts of this dude out of your mind, and click ahead to see how our 11 favorite early adopters are wearing it. And, maybe prep yourself for a little nudging and pointing: It's the price you pay for being first on the ugly.