While caps are mostly used to protect people from the sun and rain, fashion experts say there is a lot more that people can do with them. Image for representational purposes only. Photo Courtesy: iStock
As much as we hope, the summer heat isn't going away any time soon. To escape the impact of scorching sun, use of caps and bucket hats is important. Often people think it is an additional accessory, but it serves more than one purpose - style as well as protection. While most people are comfortable wearing the classic caps, experts say there is much more that can be done with the hats and caps. If one moves beyond the simple and plain ones, the rise of bucket hats is a proof.
While bucket hats are getting more and more popular, Sridharan says caps are staple that go beyond the trending styles. Ramprasad Sridharan, CEO and managing director, United Colors of Benetton India, explains, "From bucket hats to beanie and baseball caps, these are a trans-seasonal staple evolving in line with current trends. Bucket hat with a mix of function-enhancing details and elevated textures that add to its fashion-led potential." The versatility of caps can be seen with how they help with protection through light-weight materials like eco nylon, cottons, light weight denim, chambray, and blast performance fibres and co-ordinated with outfits. However, if there is one cap that has stood the test of time, it is the baseball cap, according to Sridharan.
Rajiv Bajaj, design head at Jack & Jones, agrees with Sridharan. "Currently, baseball caps, bucket hats, and crafted sunhats are popular in the fashion world. Baseball caps, in particular, have experienced a surge in demand as they have become essential items in many people's collections." This, he says, is partly due to the growing trend of work-leisure lifestyles and the increased desire to spend time outdoors. "To meet the demand for protective design, baseball caps are often made from weather-resistant materials like recycled polyester and nylon," he adds.
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Interestingly, Neha Chopra, co-founder of Delhi-based lifestyle accessory brand, Haands Free, says there is a shift in the way caps are perceived and used today. "Earlier hats were smaller and more functional; it has now moved towards being a fashion accessory and is a lot more stylish." It is also the reason why she points out that big oversized floppy hats and visors are in fashion this holiday season. "From beach sun basking to yacht rides, these head gears will find sightings in every holiday activity," she adds.
Bajaj agrees with Chopra and says the love for outdoors has further elevated caps and hats to fashion pieces. "This trend, often referred to as âThe Outdoor Boom', has influenced the evolution of fashion trends. Classic accessories like baseball caps and bucket hats are being modified to include functional features, catering to the needs of individuals seeking both style and practicality in their outdoor endeavours."
Caps moving beyond utility to a fashionable accessory
Even as many people use caps of different kinds, there are many others, who don't prefer caps of any kind; the fact that most people travel by the Mumbai local trains may dissuade them from carrying it along with them. However, one can't ignore that they protect us from the sun and rain. Chopra explains, "With increasing awareness on what the harmful side effects of the Sun UV rays are on our eyes and skin, protecting these organs have become increasingly important. Hats and caps are an extremely convenient way to protect your face from the day-to-day harmful long-term effects while looking stylish. People should definitely include a hat, cap and visor in their daily attire." Sridharan iterates, "Caps are style statement but otherwise it is a utility driven product which helps protect the head from direct exposure to sun/ climate conditions. With Global warming and rising temperature caps have now become a necessity."
Simply put, Bajaj says these are fashionable accessories that allow individuals to express their personal style and make a statement with different styles, colours, and designs. He adds, "They shield the face, neck, and eyes. They can also provide some defence against different weather conditions, offering coverage from rain, wind, and even snow." One mustn't forget that they have another use and that is to save you from bad hair days. "They can be particularly useful on "bad hair days" when individuals need a quick solution for managing their hair or keeping it in place," he reminds.
Bucket hats and their appeal
Now, that the music festivals and gigs are back in full swing, it has also become a part of the attire for most people. Seen mostly among the Gen-Z and millennials, who pull it off with a pouch, the hats can get a lot more credit that they get. Bajaj explains, "The bucket hat is versatile and can be worn throughout the year, making it a favourite among fashion enthusiasts. This trend has been reflected on fashion runways and in stores, as designers and retailers recognize the hat's adaptability and potential for unique designs." Their popularity, he says, can be attributed to their use by celebrities and influencers and that has made them a trendy alternative compared to traditional caps. But he says the popularity of the baseball caps cannot be ignored. "While bucket hats have enjoyed a surge in popularity, they coexist with baseball caps rather than overshadowing them entirely. Both styles have their unique charm and serve different purposes, catering to diverse fashion preferences and functional needs," he adds.
While bucket hats are popular during the summer because of the heat, their occurrence at music festivals shows how they are not only timeless but also versatile and can even function as not only casual but also formal looks, when required. "The bucket hat remains a key item for high-summer styling, that taps into the authentic 1990s trend, working well for both formal and casual looks", shares Sridharan. "Bucket hats are more of a style statement for youths. Older people maintain a modest, premium look that are appealing hence they can add bucket hats too in their wardrobe in basic colours and more comfortable fabrics," he adds.
While Sridharan says it can be a great accessory in the summer, Chopra differs. She says it can also come to the rescue in the rain, compared to caps which don't give full coverage to the neck. "Bucket hats are increasingly becoming more popular among the older generation for this reason." In fact, he adds that owing to their bulky nature, many younger people will still prefer caps and visors. "Older people tend to wear more bucket hats than caps. It gives better coverage and in essence looks great on any age group."
Pairing caps and hats with your attire
So, now that you are convinced about the need for it, it begs the question - is it really difficult to pair caps with your attire? Chopra simply denies it. "Caps and hats are definitely not difficult to pair with your daily attire," she says, adding, "Caps and visors go very well with athleisure attire or the staple jeans and tee, and hats go well with mini/middy dresses. As much as the cap/hat serves to protect your eyes and skin from the harmful UV rays, these head gear accessories have also become style statements and head turners."
Not only Chopra but Sridharan also believes there is more to caps than protecting people from the sun. He explains, "Accessories complement any and every attire. A classic snapback baseball cap can serve with maximum outfits and to add to the range, there can be a small fashion collection of bucket hats and statement caps. People can always snap back the cap with their bag. In case of bucket hats, they can cling well to the bags with the dog hooks."
While that is an easier way to carry it around, Bajaj says pairing caps and hats with daily attire is quite easy because it can add a stylish and casual touch to any outfit but totally depends on individual fashion preferences and the overall aesthetic one wants to achieve. For Mumbaikars or anyone traveling by public transport, there are a few considerations to keep in mind. "Firstly, prioritise comfort by opting for lightweight and breathable caps or hats, especially in a warm and humid climate like Mumbai. Materials like quick-dry or straw can provide ventilation and keep you cool during your commute." After that is sorted, he says it is important to choose caps or hats that fit securely and comfortably on your head, ensuring they don't easily fall off or get in the way while traveling. "Adjustable caps with straps or hats with a snug fit can be more practical for public transport," he adds. Lastly, it is easier if you choose versatile options so that they can go on any outfit. "Neutral colours like black, navy, or beige are versatile and can match well with different clothing styles and colours. Alternatively, choose caps or hats in patterns or designs that suit your personal taste while still being versatile enough to pair with multiple outfits," says Bajaj.
Follow these tips to pair your caps and hats
The muted colour works well for most people today but the bold colours can make a statement. On the other hand, neutral generic colour hats and visors are great to match with every look and attire. The basic from beige or baby pink cane to black and white always do the best for the day-to-day cap or hat. When looking for a statement hat and cap, you can opt for a pop colour or something like an oversized floppy hat to make heads turn.
The simple and shorter-brimmed caps are a 90s classic, but the smooth felts offer a more refined feel, giving caps the power to further transition into the present.
Adopting formal and premium fabrics can make staple items while showcasing how they can elevate styles such as bucket hats. Soft leathers and nylons reinforce the continuing demand for elevated sports looks.
Tweeds and checks offer a more familiar style not too distant from the flat cap that should suit the wearer. The wardrobe can have a mix of basics with few statement pieces. Coordinated caps with co-ord sets is a must for a style statement and for the complete look.