It wasn’t that long ago that a man without a hat was not a man fully dressed. Today, hats aren’t terribly common, but they can add flair to any outfit — as long as you know how to wear each hat style correctly. Here are a few of the most common hats in style in 2021 and tips on integrating them into your wardrobe with success.
Too many good hats are viciously maligned due to the current cultural reputation of the fedora. Not all soft-brimmed hats are fedoras; fedoras have a specific teardrop shape, a low crown and a lengthwise crease with a pinch near the front. If you like the look of the fedora, wear one with a slightly wider brim, which will separate you from the stereotypical fedora-wearing jerks out there.
Traditionally made from braided palm fronds, the panama hat hails from Ecuador and is a wardrobe staple for tropical climates. Light and breathable, the broad straw brim offers shade without trapping heat against the scalp, providing a stylish and functional accessory for your vacations to warmer climes. The panama hat is only suitable to wear seaside alongside more casual clothing — no suit and tie.
Not to be confused with the newsboy cap, which is rounder and fuller, the flat cap is a favorite amongst sophisticated celebrities. However, you can’t throw a flat cap onto any outfit and call it sophisticated. Your style should already be smart casual — a polished-yet-relaxed look that can be difficult to master. You might take inspiration from European men’s fashion, which tends to be a bit more tailored than the typical American men’s wardrobe.
The beret isn’t reserved for the French and the French alone. Mostly unstructured, the beret is among the most forgiving of headwear because you can wear it properly in several positions to change up the lines and messages of your look. Like the flat cap, the beret is best paired with smart casual clothing, but certain berets can also be appropriate for semi-formal settings.
Parents just don’t understand that their old-school fashion is exceedingly on-trend. So many elements of your dad’s wardrobe are in style right now, from his chunky white sneakers to his garish Hawaiian shirt, but the dad hat is perhaps the accessory that you absolutely must-have in your wardrobe. Essentially a relaxed baseball cap with a slightly curved brim, the dad hat adds a vintage vibe to any casual look.
No longer a hat only for winter practicality, the humble beanie is easy to integrate into almost any style, any time of year. The beanie does tend to increase the casualness of an outfit, so you shouldn’t try to don a beanie when you are aiming for a truly formal look. Still, from athletic and streetwear up to business casual, a beanie could make you look cool.
Unironically, bucket hats are back. However, they aren’t yet quite as versatile as the dad hat or the beanie. For now, you should only buy and wear a bucket hat if you have mastered other elements of American street fashion, like matching sweatsuit sets, multiple layers of shirts or vertical stripes. Pulling a bucket hat over anything more refined will probably make you look like Woody Allen — which is definitely not a good look.
A symbol of masculinity and individualism, the cowboy hat is one of the few pieces of men’s headwear that remains a must-have formal accessory for a small section of the population. Whether you buy a straw cowboy hat or invest in a leather cowboy hat handcrafted for you, you need to be respectful of the piece and what it represents. This means wearing the hat properly alongside your best blue jeans and a button-up shirt, and it means never messing with another man’s hat.
This is the easiest piece of advice to give: Don’t wear a top hat. In 2021, the only people who can wear top hats are performers, and even then, they should only wear them while they are performing. While you might think of the top hat as fun and whimsical, it always comes off as weird. You can find plenty of more appropriate formal headwear, like the flat cap or the fedora, so don’t waste your money or closet space on the top hat.
You don’t need a hat to complete an outfit — but you might want one. If you are dipping your toes into more intricate men’s fashion, you should try adding a hat on top, just for fun.