Sun Visors Aren’t Just For Grandmas, Golfers, or Kardashians

An ode to the half-moon headgear, the underdog of millinery.

By Jessie Schiewe

Sun visors are the latest cool headwear in the fashion world. (Art:  Maria Karambatsakis )

Sun visors are the latest cool headwear in the fashion world. (Art: Maria Karambatsakis)

When I saw Kim and Kourtney Kardashian rocking matching black and yellow sun visors on Instagram to mark National Sibling Day last year, my first reaction was: Dammit! Then I thought, What am I going to do now that my kooky style signifier is officially a thing?

I’ve been wearing sun visors for five years, and one of the main reasons why I’ve enjoyed them so much is because they aren’t cool. In fact, you could say they’re the antithesis of it. Nine times out of 10 I’m the sole person wearing one, and in a sea of fedoras and baseball caps, they make me easier to spot in a crowd.

Photo: The Kokomo Visor by  Maurie + Eve

Photo: The Kokomo Visor by Maurie + Eve

I’ve always had an awkward relationship with hats. Blame it on my head shape or face structure, but they’ve just never looked good on me. Whether it’s a straw beach hat, a flat-top bolero, or a J. Lo floppy one, hats always looks goofy or pompous when on my head. Even when I had cancer as a teenager and went bald, I refused to wear hats, opting for bandanas or wigs instead.

Sun visors entered the picture only by accident. I was visiting my grandmother a few years ago, helping her clean out her closets, when I found a trio of braided, straw visors on a shelf. They smelled a bit like moth balls, but I was able to look beyond that. I liked the fact that they had velcro enclosures so I could fasten them as tightly as needed. Even better, I could still wear my hair in a bun or ponytail when I put one on.

The writer sporting one of her many sun visors.

The writer sporting one of her many sun visors.

My grandma hadn’t worn the visors since the ‘80s and had no issues parting with them. Even though they were slightly dorky — very “senior chic” — I was elated to have found a solution that was unique and versatile.

The first time I wore one of the sun visors in public was to a Fourth of July party, with my hair in a topknot secured by a white scrunchie. Combining the two retro items worked a kind of magic because I received several compliments on my headgear that day. Emboldened, I started wearing them more often, and by the end of that summer, I was a convert.

Since then, I’ve added to my sun visor collection. There’s a Korean homegoods store near where I live that stocks a number of brightly colored cotton models that clip to your head. Unfortunately, those can sometimes cause headaches if you wear them for too long, so I also buy ones that are secured with twisted cords or ribbon ties.

Town Talk, a 100-year-old, family-run company based in Louisville, Kentucky, has become a favorite of mine ever since I stumbled upon their online store. Their sun visors are glitzy and playful, decorated with rhinestones, animal print fabrics, and even hot chili pepper patterns.

For a more square-shaped visor, there’s Glove It, which also employs bling and bright patterns. You can even buy gloves, towels, and bags to match with your visor.

And it’s not like you have to go to a special sun visor store to get your hands on one. Now that they’re “cool,” you can find them at tons of shops, including Forever XXI, Lululemon, Asos, Free People, Dolls Kill, Urban Outfitters, and many others.

Photo: Straw sun visor by  Urban Outfitters

Photo: Straw sun visor by Urban Outfitters

Of course, Rihanna has been wearing sun visors for even longer than I have, with the first reported sightings of her wearing one dating around 2012. But in 2018, sun visors officially went mainstream. Tommy Hilfiger sent them down the runway. Dior gave us the definitive version, in brightly colored perspex. Burberry did them in plaid. And, since fashion always trickles downwards, places like Ross and Target now sell them, as well.

Am I bitter? Kind of. It was fun standing out, and I miss having people come up to me and start conversations purely because of my unorthodox headwear. Now, when I wear my baby pink gingham visor, I just look like a Kardashian wannabe trying desperately to be trendy.

Like most things in fashion, the Reign of the Sun Visor probably won’t last long. Still, when the rest of the world moves on to the next big hat craze — the safari helmet, perhaps? — I’ll still be wearing them, proving once and for all that sun visors aren’t just for grandmas, golfers, or Kardashians.