My relationship with my khaki bucket hat has become one of discipline. It’s perched atop my belt ladder (it’s real if you name it), right next to my mirror, and my hand twitches for it every day. But I’ve reasoned I can only wear it only a couple times a week lest my reputation begin to meld with it, rendering me more of a “bucket hat person” than I feel I am. Because it’s not really the hat itself that I find so appealing (it’s cheap, a little small, features an unidentified brown stain), it’s the way it makes my outfits feel instantly more complete—not to mention more fun.
Hats do that. This is why I was unsurprised to find that as I clicked through the street style offerings of Milan Fashion Week, all my favorite outfits featured them: baseball hats, wool hats, bucket hats. As with my beige boy, it’s not really the hats themselves I was drawn to (although they are good). It’s the way they punctuate the outfits below, rendering what might otherwise be simple looks into something more memorable and communicative.
Take the styling of this blue baseball cap:
The outfit called to me for a bunch of reasons: The gray pleated slacks contrasted with a dainty knit tank; the unlikely crop of her brown cardigan, the shade of which plays nicely off the neon orange of her sunglasses; the simple gold chain knotted around her neck in conversation with the handle on her baby blue bucket back. But it was the cobalt blue baseball hat that made all of it feel special, and told me something about her in the process (that perhaps she’s a little more casual than her slacks might indicate, a little more boyish than her neckline would have me believe). It’s the hat that made me consider the art of everything she paired it with.
Or what about this wool riding number?
As a self-proclaimed champion and protector of the dignity of Granny Smith apples, I’m surprised to say this woman’s crochet bag of them was the last thing I noticed in this photo (although I do have questions). The first thing was the oversized alpaca sweater, and then it was the two-tone skirt mingling with the knee-high boots—all appealing in their (luxe) simplicity. But had it not been for the rust wool riding hat, I’d have never noticed the textural harmony of the outfit, which is ultimately what made me want to bookmark it. It also made me think she’s (physically, emotionally) soft, a quality I’d like to transmit myself. Also, vis-a-vis the fruit, I strive to be as benevolent.
But this (nylon?) bucket hat is almost an outfit unto itself.
I’ll admit the first thing I clocked here was the tie-dye shirt layered under the princess-sleeved cardigan (a surprising choice). The oversize denim shorts are good too; I especially appreciate the rare finished hem. But what would this outfit be, truly, without the bucket, tucked neatly over her ears and forehead like a protective shield against unwanted thoughts? It’s the perfect outfit topper in that it underlines the self-possession her other choices hinted at. I don’t even need to see her shoes to know who she wanted to be on this day (dressed down but buttoned-up, moody but in a fun way).
I think I’m drawn to hats because they offer a period at the end of the sentence my clothes are trying to write—one that other accessories like jewelry, belts, and bags rarely manage to do for me in the same way, either because they feel too feminine for my taste or too stylized for my laidback inclinations. Hats, meanwhile, are simple: one piece of gender-neutral fabric, one stylistic reference, one punctuation mark.
There are other interesting lessons to be gleaned from our Milan Fashion Week street style photos (like the power of a voluminous beige dress worn with simple brown sandals), so click through below if you’re in the mood to bookmark, too.
Photos by Matthew Sperzel.