HERE’S MY problem with umbrellas. You and everyone else pop one up at the same time during a rainstorm, and then nobody can see very well. I fear I’ll poke someone in the eye—or just as bad, they’ll poke me. The other problem, well, it used to be more of one, is leaving it somewhere you can’t remember. And say, if there happen to be wind gusts and rain, the umbrella—even a more expensive one—has the nerve to turn inside out, leaving you with no alternative but to curse and swear until you can—possibly—right its position or give up and throw it away in disgust.
MyLittleBird’s Nancy McKeon has had her own umbrella misadventures, mostly while walking her dog, a process that has special requirements. “You’re holding a leash and, if it’s raining, an umbrella. So now what do you do when the dog poops? You wind up holding the umbrella between your arm and your neck while picking up crap, all the while the dog is pulling to get a move on already. It’s hard to do without letting go of the umbrella, the dog or the poop—or all three. (Though I must say it’s entertaining to watch…someone else.) A lot of people solve the problem with a hood but my hoods are always too big and flop down over my eyes. I tried a baseball cap, just to keep the top of my head from getting drenched. But I have a hard time seeing peripherally from under that giant bill, especially when wearing a mask.”
For her daily dog walks, Nancy decided to purchase a vinyl bucket rain hat in red. Which prompted me to browse for other candidates, too, in light of inevitable downpours to come. While doing so, I discovered several attractive, serviceable sun hats, as well as a few that brave both rain and shine. Below, our hat-buying suggestions.
LEFT: The bucket hat—with its downward-facing brim—has moved in and out of favor. This spring, it’s back in vogue. Tory Burch’s “Bon Voyage” PVC Rain Bucket Hat ($109), with a travel-theme print, does double-duty for future getaways, rain or shine. The waterproof plastic shell ensures your head stays dry, the brim keeps your face protected from the sun. RIGHT: LL Bean’s H2Off Rain Bucket Hat ($44.95), made of lightweight, waterproof polyester fabric, with nylon lining, will rebuff the rain while looking summery with its spray of white polka dots on a turquoise background. The bucket hat bonus: You can crumple them up, toss them in a bag and not worry about bending a brim or collapsing a crown.
LEFT: Ganni’s Woven Cotton Wide-Brim hat ($115, Mytheresa) looks similar to a bonnet one of Alcott’s Little Women would have worn to shield their pale faces from the sun. Charmingly retro, but not at all prissy in this smart khaki-green. RIGHT: In case of frightful summer storms, choose sides. Wear Chico’s water-repellent Reversible Rain Hat (Chico’s, $29) with the leopard print showing. We can’t promise to scare away the raindrops, but the fabric is water-repellent.
LEFT: The functional, durable boonie hat was a favorite of the military during the Vietnam War. The wide brim defends against inclement weather and sun exposure, while the chin strap secures the hat in place. Rains’s Boonie Hat ($34), made from a waterproof fabric with a matte finish, is available in shiny beige and black, but we’d choose the striking silver. ABOVE RIGHT: Serious outdoors people, take note. The Tilley TH8 Charlotte Hemp Sun Hat ($90) is designed for maximum sun protection with fabric that has the highest ultra-violet protection factor— 50+. With a system of cords both front and back, it will stay put in high winds, float in water (important for mariners) and a finish that repels the rain. And it’s guaranteed for life. Depending on your whim, you can wear the brim turned up or down. BELOW RIGHT: A little hip-hop, a little California surfer, this Nylon Boonie Hat ($50, Need Supply) with flat, flexible brim, mesh lining and cotton drawstring is designed by streetwear brand Stussy.
LEFT: This Francine Lightweight Sun Hat ($170, Bloomingdale’s) comes from my favorite milliner, Aussie Helen Kaminski, whose hats never fail to frame faces in the most flattering ways. To justify the price tag, I would wear it on rainy days, too (it’s water-repellent). RIGHT: DC’s home-grown boutique Proper Topper sells a variety of hats—from fancy fascinators for Kentucky Derby-like events to much more casual styles like this navy-and-white Rain Bucket Hat ($25, Proper Topper). It’s water-repellent, packable and adorable.
LEFT: I’m a sucker for slickers, which is why this Wide-Brimmed Vinyl Rain Hat ($17.79, Amazon) appeals. Available in nine colors (including red, which Nancy purchased), it’s inexpensive protection from the elements. RIGHT: Beach bound? Athleta’s water-resistant Baja Bucket Cap ($42) with removable chin straps makes a handy travel companion, folding up into a hidden, interior pocket for easy-peasy packability. It also comes in a cheery red.