The Panama hat is an icon of summer style. Despite its name, the legendary accessory has its origins in Ecuador and it has since become the country’s most famous handcraft. As with many items that have stood the test of time, the Panama hat was born out of necessity and practicality: the hat woven from Ecuadorian toquilla straw offered the best protection from the sun.
But I think there is another reason for its timelessness: it was a men’s wardrobe item. We’ve seen it donned with style by Humphrey Bogart, Paul Newman, Gary Cooper, Sean Connery. It is imbued with ageless masculine elegance and it’s the tomboy touch it imprints on your look that I truly love and that ensures its all-time classic status. And let’s not forget that in summer accessorizing can be difficult, given the temperatures, and we all want to dress down: the Panama hat is such a chic and easy way to stand apart.
If you are thinking of buying a Panama hat, you should know that genuine panama hats are handcrafted and made from toquilla straw, ensuring the highest quality and a classic look. I think J.Crew offers a lovely option, that won’t cost a fortune either.
photos: 1-3: Kurt Markus for Latina, January 1999 (model: Christy Turlington, wearing a Panama hat by J.J. Hat Center in “Retur to Cuscatlan”) / 4-Koto Bolofo