Winter might have been awash with berets and beanies, but with summer comes the panache of floppy bucket hats and wide-brimmed beauties. Like sunscreen, summer hats are important for protection against UV rays, but they’re also a way to level up your outfits, even if that outfit is just some cute togs.

Marking a return to Brigitte Bardot’s 1960s Saint-Tropez style, designers are releasing hats that almost double as umbrellas. Others nod to ’90s nostalgia with zany prints and terry towelling.

Here are our favourite styles – perfect for beach lounging – of summer 2020/21.

Bucket hats
Over the past few years, bucket hats have evolved from an ironic comeback to a fully-fledged summer essential. Lucky Folk’s version – in sunny yellow – is made from 100 per cent cotton towelling. It’s soft and durable and can be easily folded and thrown into a beach bag. For $45, Sunday Social’s red gingham hat will add pop of colour to any outfit (and pairs great with a picnic rug). Channel ’70s flower power with Camp Cove Swim’s wide brim bucket hat – and matching Green Garden bikini collection.

For something timeless, there’s Lack of Colour’s woven raffia straw bucket hat or Paris Georgia’s classic black style. Contemporary Danish label Cecilie Copenhagen has also translated the time-honoured hand-loomed pattern of its traditional keffiyeh scarf into a lightweight hat design. It’s available in camel and red, ocean and green, and plum and violet.

Sun hats
Wide-brimmed. Raffia straw. Snug fit. These are all qualities of a top-tier sun hat. And whether you need one for your next (yet distant) Europe trip or this weekend’s picnic, we’ve got you covered. Avenue’s Angelina sunhat is crafted from 100 per cent raffia straw and features shells as cord ends. It rolls and folds easily so it's perfect for your summer getaway. Byron-based label Feather Drum’s frayed-edge sun hat is floppy, which means comfortable and easy to pack. The wide brim on this panama hat delivers extra protection for those who want a functional sun hat, but don’t want the look of a functional sun hat. Another goodie to protect you from the sun is Will & Bear’s wide-brim desert sun hat. Some other favourites include New Zealand label Marle’s Nonna hat, Sarah J Curtis’s very pretty new scalloped brim hat and The Paloma hat which features an exaggerated 35-centimetre brim that is woven over five months by artisans from the Andes of Ecuador.

Australian Helen Kaminski’s hat label started by chance in 1983 after she handcrafted a raffia hat to protect her children from the sun. "I left one of my hats at a shop in Manuka, Canberra. It sold before I got back home. The shop owner told me she could have sold five in an afternoon,” she explains on her website. This classic hat continues to be one of her most popular styles.

If making a statement is your bag, go New York-based millinery label Lola Hats’ The Spinner. The deep, back-dipping brim provides plenty of sun coverage, and the hat is so flexible you can wear it while lying on the sand. To travel, just roll it up like your yoga mat and stick it under your arm (a la French baguette). An equally statement-making piece is Lola Hats’ umbrella-sized Smoke Rings style. The oversized hat will get softer with each wear. To restore its crispness, iron it swiftly on cotton setting with lots of steam.

Visors
Many deem visors an ineffective means of protection from the sun, but what they lack in head protection they make up for in breathability. Although, the coverage on this vintage-inspired visor is ideal for the Aussie sun. And it’s handmade to order in Brooklyn, New York. A similar style by the same label – but available from Australian designer Lucy Folk’s website – is this straw visor. Go sporty-chic with Camilla & Marc’s cotton version or minimal in Arms of Eve’s natural style. It’s available in three colours: light tan, dark tan and black, and it’s just $40. Meanwhile, Helen Kaminski’s collaboration with Aje is a chic addition to any wardrobe.

Caps
Caps mean business. And they come in handy whether you need to go for a run or complete an off-duty look. We think it pays to invest in a stylish option for days when your car brand’s merch just won’t cut it. Our picks include Viktoria & Woods classic style, Adelaide label ORTC’s cute Dachshund cap and Norse Projects’ twill sports cap.

Add colour to your look with Verner’s cotton cap with a multicolour stripe print or Kenzo’s bright logo lid. Or add texture with Will & Bear’s corduroy cap.

Boaters
Boater hats were popularised in the late 19th and early 20th century. For a 21-century look, though, wear it slightly tilted – either to the front or to the side. Avenue’s Willow boater is hand crafted in Ecuador from high quality Panama straw. Its structured brim features a scalloped edge detailing and makes plenty of shade. Other straw styles include Janessa Leone’s classic straw boater, which is made from bao fibre (straw derived from Raffia and sourced from Madagascar palms). These fibres are boiled and dried before they are handwoven into the bodies, which are then stiffened and blocked into a hat. And Will & Bear’s Harvey boater, which is made from 100 per cent natural straw with soft rose tones. For an extra $20 you can purchase carry clips to prevent it from going walk-abouts. Ace of Something’s felt boater is a festival essential. And because it’s made of 100 per cent Australian wool, it can be worn in winter too. For added texture, there’s the label’s zigzag woven straw hat.

Fedoras
Ah, the fedora. Most recognised on gangsters, mobsters and … Indiana Jones? Lack of Colour’s version takes cues from those vintage men’s styles. It’s made from 100 per cent Australian wool and finished with a soft suede band. Melbourne-based label Billy Bones Club also makes 100 per cent wool felt fedoras. They are available in jungle green, salted caramel, black Betty, brown sugar and more. And Fallen Broken Street has crafted a classic fedora in chocolate brown.