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A Guide to the Many Types of Sun Hats

It is scientifically proven that exposure to the sun encourages your body to produce Vitamin D and increase serotonin levels so you feel happier and healthier. However, it’s also common knowledge that too much of the ultraviolet (UV) rays can have negative effects that lead to permanent damage. Protect your head, face, and neck without sacrificing your plans to play outside by investing in a sun hat. Showcase the perfect combination of self-care and style while wearing one of the many types of sun hats designed to keep you actively feeling great!   

Types of Sun Hats: When to Wear What

Since the beginning of time, humans have been diurnal creatures drawn to activity within the sun’s abundant light. In order to withstand the heat, protect our eyes, and cover our neck and shoulders from burning, we’ve required protective wear. Many types of sun hats were created for this sole purpose and are worth looking at from both a practical and stylistic viewpoint. Originally from warm weathered regions within the world, their histories still somewhat dictate ‘the when to wear what’ in social settings. Below is a list of several popular styles of sun hats that will give you an insight into their key functions and trending fashions.  

Panama Hats

History and Purpose: Light-colored and lightweight Panama hats, aka toquilla straw hats, will make you feel lightsome on a warm inviting night in the Caribbean as you embrace their rich essence. Despite their name, these hats originated in Ecuador and became popular during the historic Gold Rush when prospectors traveled from Panama to California. When admired by the masses, travelers told people they bought them in Panama, and the name stuck.

Key Functions: Due to their lightness and breathability, these hats are perfect to wear for sun-protection in hot, humid, tropical climates. 

Fashion: Panama hats are best paired with a breezy summer dress or lightweight trousers or pantsuit, oftentimes made of linen or silk. They give a sense of social prowess and class that can easily be worn at sporting events, weddings, luncheons, cocktail parties, and/or beach settings whereby you’re wanting to make an impression. 

Boater Hats

History and Purpose: The sharply shaped flat crown and brim straw boater hats were notorious for being worn in Western Europe and the US on ‘Straw Hat Day.’ The old school look was once sported by sailors, Victorian school children and icons, like Coco Chanel and French actor Maurice Chevalie. Today the stiff-brimmed, ribbon-bound hats have become the perfect accessory for an art deco or retro vibe. 

Key Functions: Lightweight, breathable, and with just enough of a brim to shade your eyes from the sun’s glare across the ocean’s horizon, the boater hat is known for being worn in the spring and summer seasons. 

Fashion: As the boater hat was originally worn by men, it pairs perfecting with a flowy, more feminine dress to highlight the juxtaposition. Other places to wear it are when picnicing at the park, dressing up in your favorite 1920s blazer, or attending a nautical event. 

Outback Hats

History and Purpose: The outback can be a harsh environment requiring durable yet hardy protection, and rugged but supple gear for survival. Australian outback hats, and their American counterparts, are uniquely adept for hiking, camping, traveling, or riding horses in robust and severe terrain. 

Key Functions: Stuff them in a pack when the clouds begin to form, and expect them to immediately regain their shape as you pull them back out the moment the sun’s rays resume. Outback hats are made of sturdy material, malleable construction, and rustic or weathered style.

Fashion: Whether your plans involve mimicking Jack Riley in The Man from Snowy River or Jerri Manthey from Survivor, wearing an outback hat will make you look rugged, sexy, and ready for adventure. Pair with any outfit for any outdoor event that makes you feel prepared to take on the day. 

Cowboy and Western Hats

History and Purpose: Cowboy and western hats began as largely utilitarian similar-looking headpieces in the old American west. As a defining piece of the culture, cowboys and girls began showing their individual character by rolling their brims and creasing their crowns in unique ways. Out of this personalized stylization, the various subgenres of cowboy hat that we have today were born. 

Key Functions: Straw cowboy and western hats are the way to ‘Cowboy Up’ in warmer weather. With a high crown and wide brim, they were made to protect you against the intensity of the sun while on a long horseback ride or tending to the farm. 

Fashion: Although you can wear a cowboy or western hat with just about anything, you might get a few looks if you pair it with shorts and Converse high tops. Classic blue jeans, a button up flannel shirt, and boots are a great look to pair with a western hat.

Safari Hats

History and Purpose: Made for temperate climates, the safari hat is a lightweight, rugged, and durable adaptation of a Filipino protective sun helmet. Popularized by Indiana Jones and worn by U.S. President Teddy Roosevelt when traveling to the tropics, these hats are made to be taken on your biggest adventure, to explore every element of the lands, or to party in style.

Key Functions: Characterized by a medium to large-sized brim with a center-dent crown, safari hats are quite practical when it comes to protecting you from the equatorial sun. Available in several different styles, they range in color, material, and packability.

Fashion: With a shape that tends to look good on just about anyone, don’t worry as much as what you wear this with. Focus more on making sure you have it either on your head or stuffed in your backpack because you’ll definitely want it later in the day when the sweat starts to collect on your brow. 

Survival Hats 

History and Purpose: This is a new type of hat that was recently created and popularized by us, American Hat Makers! The Survival Hat is sporty, lightweight, and meant to be taken everywhere you go. 

Key Functions: Wilderness survival. Not like any other hat of its kind, the Survival Hat features a removable hatband that acts as an emergency bracelet to help save you if your adventure takes an unexpected turn. It’s made of 420 denier coated pack cloth fabric and urethane coated nylon to provide superior durability against rips or tears and has deep cargo pockets that are perfect for storage. The more advanced models of the hat offer a number of other life-saving features, such as a fire starter cord, emergency whistle, and emergency phone charger. 

Fashion: This hat is largely utilitarian, but looks stylish enough for you to wear to a BBQ, on your favorite patio, or while lounging at the pool or beach side. 

Wide-Brimmed Sun Hats / Fedoras

History and Purpose: Wide-brimmed sun hats and fedoras have been primarily worn by females since the late 1920s. Whether women were parading around the french Riviera in enormous straw hats, or coupling them with gloves and costume jewelry at fashionable events, they used this style to both make a statement and shade themselves thoroughly. In 1947 Dior unveiled the ‘Corolle’ collection and paired it with a black wide brimmed hat. The look immediately gained popularity. Today you’ll see this style worn by many Hollywood stars, at music festivals like Coachella, the Red Carpet, and on the streets of New York. 

Key Functions: Yes these hats have function, just as all the other sun hats do, but let’s be honest - they are a hugely fashionable piece. Revel in your own personal shade and do it in style when wearing a wide-brimmed sun hat or fedora.  

Fashion: Classic and summer chic, wide brim sun hats and fedoras are paired perfectly with a minimalist pantsuit or torn jeans to give your look a fancy yet functional 1970s bohemian flair. If you’re feeling more vintage, wear it with a white or cream 1940s or 1950s style dress, like Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman after she went shopping. 

Self-Care and Style

Wearing a sun hat protects you against harsh UV rays while giving your wardrobe a fashionable boost. Feel confident as you lounge, mingle, adventure, or socialize at your next sunny event because you’re not only taking care of your skin with the added protection, but you’re out doing the things that make you happy and healthy in style.