The Panama hat is a legend. With its unmistakable profile and sleek simplicity that complements a multitude of looks, it is no wonder this legendary accessory never goes out of style.
It can be dressed up or down and gives the wearer a subtle sense of panache. And like most timeless items, this one too has a story behind it.
The History of the Panama Hat
The Panama hat has been described as a “go-to” style. Deemed a classic that looks great on most men, it adds a Gatsby-esque touch to almost any outfit ranging from casual to formal. What constitutes a Panama hat is not the shape but the straw weave.
A fedora, planter, and trilby can all fall under this category. And the hat has its origins in Ecuador. In the 17th century, the accessory was first exported from Montecristi to Panama, where it caught the eye of nomadic American gold rush miners.
As the hats served a dual purpose of looking sharp and offering sun protection, workers on the Panama Canal were quick to start donning them.
The U.S. government ordered the hats from Ecuador in bulk in the 18th century, and the style soared in popularity in 1906.
That was the year Roosevelt paid a visit to the canal’s excavation, and a picture of him wearing a Panama hat was run in the New York Times. By 1944, these hats were Ecuador’s top export.
Panama Hats That Fit Your Personality
Remember, it is the material, not the silhouette, that defines a Panama hat. Specifically, Ecuadorian toquilla straw that comes from a palm plant. These hats are very versatile in their style, meaning there is one to fit almost every personality.
If you go for classic clean lines and tailored fits over trends, a Panama fedora is an ideal choice. For those who are more adventurous, consider a design with a vented crown and wide brim for added sun protection.
If you have discerning tastes, a sophisticated safari-inspired Panama is a must-have. For those who identify with a low-key and comfortable lifestyle, you will get plenty of wear out of an outback-style hat.
For the bold ones who like to make a statement, go with a headpiece featuring an extra-wide brim to capitalize on looks and function.
Do you want to take optimal care of you Panama hat? Here are some cleaning tips.
The Caracas Fedora
Let’s start with a classic. The Caracas Panama fedora from American Hat Works is a stunner that combines the best of both worlds. Available in natural, which is more of an off-white, accented with a black band, this is one elegant hat.
It is a true Panama style as it is handcrafted in Ecuador from pure toquilla straw. It is cooling, comfortable, and lightweight yet can go from the beach to an upscale seaside dinner with ease.
The Caracas features a 2 ¾” brim, a 3 ¾” crown, and a swen-in sweatband to wick away moisture. Priced at $97, tt runs true to size and is available in small to 2x large.
Related Link: Trilby Vs Fedora - What's The Difference?
Designed by Scala, the Taos is a striking outback-style Panama hat. Available in the colors natural (an off-white) and putty (a rich tan), this is an American-assembled, Ecuadorian-woven headpiece with a wide 2 ⅞” brim and a tall 4 ½” crown.
It is accented with a braided jute band and a concealed twill sweatband. In addition to providing sun protection, the Taos is water-repellant thanks to its Teflon coating. The hat fits true to size and is available in small to 2x large. 34 reviews rank the Taos 5/5 stars and it retails for $145
An upscale safari hat, the Roswell by Scala will definitely make an impression. When someone walks into a room wearing this hat, others will remember.
This premiere option is assembled in the United States but comprised of Grade 8, hand-woven Ecuadorian straw.
Perfect for a classy daytime setting, the Roswell boasts a 2 ¼” brim with a 4 ½”antique gold grosgrain band. Under the exterior is an effective sweatband and the Teflon-coated hat is water-resistant.
Available in a natural cream color, the hat fits slightly large hence it is available in medium, large, and extra large with a price of $205.
Are you trying to shape your new Panama hat for the perfect fit? Here are suggestions to get a custom look and feel.
The Wide Brim
Get acquainted with your inner gambler when you don the Orleans by Scala. This showstopper will have you Kentucky Derby-ready in an instant thanks to its bold design comprised of a 4” crown and an extra-wide 3” brim.
Also assembled in the United States from hand-woven Ecuadorian straw, the Orleans is available is a cream color accented with a black, 12-ligne grosgrain hat band.
It boasts a twill sweatband and a Teflon coating makes the Orleans water-repellant. Offered in sizes small to extra large, the price for this handsome headpiece is a modest $165.
Colorful Panama Hats
A Panama hat is defined by its material. As Ecuadorian straw is easy to dye and shape, the aesthetic possibilities of this style are nearly limitless.
While beautiful in its natural creamy color, that doesn’t mean a person cannot truly express themselves with an equally unique piece. Think a purple fedora a la Prince, a green outback number, or a bright blue wide brim.
In fact, you can have hats that coordinate with an array of outfits matching not just styles but your wardrobe colors! Above all else, do what works for you.
Related Link: The Ultimate Guide to Women’s Hat Styles
Hats are a great way to express one’s style and self. They are a perfect blend of form and fashion as they make a striking accessory while keeping one cool and protected from the sun.
The Panama hat especially excels at this due to its construction and rich history. Another plus is you never have to worry about this timeless classic going out of style.
If you are looking for the perfect staple to add to your accessory collection, you cannot go wrong with a Panama hat.
For hiking or dining, day or night, casual or formal, this is one of the most versatile items you never know you needed.