Panama Hat Guide — Gentleman’s Gazette

Panama Hat Guide — Gentleman’s Gazette


Welcome back to the Gentleman’s Gazette! Today’s video is all about Panama hats; I
discuss the shapes, what to buy, what not to buy, how it got its name, how it’s made,
and what to pay attention to, and anything else you want to know about this wonderful
summer hat. What is a Panama hat? Basically, it is a white summer hat that is
woven from the straw of the Toquilla Palm. Even though it’s called Panama hat, it’s originally
made in Ecuador and it has never been made in Panama. In Ecuador, it’s better known as the SOMBRERO
DE PAJA TOQUILLA which means as much as straw hat. Panama hats have been woven in Ecuador since
the 17th century and they’ve been imported since the 19th century to
Europe, the Americas, and Asia. So how did the Panama hat got its name? During the 1834 Gold Rush in Canada, when
miners went from South America to Canada, they saw those hats in Panama and so they
got their name. On top of that, Theodore Roosevelt popularised
the hat style and even cemented the Panama name when he was
wearing one observing the Panama Canal and of course, being photographed. So how is a Panama made? Basically, you take the core fibers of the
toquilla plant which are also known as cogollos. The cogollos are the hearts of the palm tree
and they’re carefully separated by hand and then briefly boiled. Since they’re wet, they have to be sun dried
or air dried and once that’s done, the fiber is bleached with sulfur smoke to give it the
original Panama light color. Sometimes, you can also find uncoloured hats
but they have a much more yellow appearance. To get really fine hats, the
palm tree fibers are split into even finer straw fibers. The weaving of a Panama hat begins at the
center of the crown. Once the crown is large enough, it’s put in
a dry pot and woven on top of a hat block at about waist height. Once the weave extends past the size of the
hat block, the weaver adds additional blocks on top and pulls down the weave so it stays
in place and it gets that hat shape. The entire process is physically quite tiring
and depending on how fine your hat is, it can take anywhere from a few weeks up to several
months to create one hat. Once the weaver gets to the edge of the brim,
it’s typically handed off to other artisans who finish the hat. Traditionally, a Panama hat has a loose back
weave which is much more elegant than a cut and sewn edge. So when you want a quality hat, look for that
edge because if it’s back woven, it’s of a much higher quality than if it’s cut and
sewn. Typically, you have one person who starts
the back weave, a second one that tightens it, and the third one cuts off the loose straw
so it has a polished nice finish. If you have a very fine hat, they keep that
excess straw and use it to maybe make repairs later. In the next step, the hats are washed and
bleached with sulfur to make them softer and more suitable to wear as a
wonderful summer hat. Subsequently, the hats are blocked or either
brought to the US to head blockers who then get the hat the right shape. In my experience, the hats that come directly
out of Ecuador usually have a very small range of different styles and shapes and
are very limited. Because of that, quality panama hats are usually
brought raw at this stage to the US or to other countries which are then blocked by
an experienced head blocker who can get exactly the shape the customer demands. Traditionally, every Panama hat was woven
by hand but due to a high demand, most hats these days are machine woven. Now that you know how a Panama hat is made,
let’s discuss the quality hallmarks. Basically, it comes down to straw and weave;
the finer the straw, the more equal all the fibers are, and the more evenly they’re colored,
the higher the quality of the hat. Just take a look at these two hats and you
can clearly see the color differences. This one is more valuable than that one. When it comes to the weave, a finer denser
weave that’s more regular is more desirable than a looser wider weave that’s more irregular. Traditionally, hats are categorized in Montecristi
Fino or Montecristi superfino, however, those terms are not protected and so it pays to
actually count the weaves per square inch to get a good idea of what you’re buying in
terms of quantity. The highest-quality hats in the market have
about 2,000 to 4,000 weaves or knots per square inch, that’s an extremely high number and
it can take 8 to 12 months for those hats to be completed. Of course, these hats are very rare and there
are not many people who can weave them anymore. One of them is ______ who I think exclusively
now weaves for one weaver and one store in the world, so you can really only get it from
him and to my knowledge, he’s the best weaver alive today. Back in the day, there was a specific grading
system that everybody would abide by however today, that’s not really the case anymore
and so rather than looking at the old way to do it, it pays to simply count the diamond
points. In Ecuador, these diamond points are called
Carreras, you should always measure them one inch in from the brim or two and a half centimeters
because that gives you an accurate count. Sometimes, people count them in the middle
or the top of the crown, however, that’s wrong because it usually has a higher density and
it throws up the numbers. Another Panama hat grading criteria is sometimes
the vueltas which are the concentric circles they can see on the brim when you hold it
against the Sun or a strong light source. Here, you can see a few circles and the more
you have, the more desirable it is, the higher the quality. Personally, I think it’s easiest to look at
a hat and look at the evenness in the color, the evenness and fineness of the straw and
the weave, and the knots or the weaves per square inch. So a decently Montecristi superfino will probably
run you around 300 to 500 or 600 dollars depending on the quality of the straw, the color, the
weave, and the final look. The most expensive panama hats in the world
can fetch anywhere from twenty to thirty thousand dollars. Entry level hats can be very inexpensively
starting at twenty dollars all the way up to a hundred dollars depending on the finishing,
the brand, the look, the hatband, and the quality of the straw. In terms of styles, probably the most popular
one is the fedora style and if you want to learn more about the fedora, please check
out this in-depth guide here. The second style is the optimo style which
is distinctly British and it’s characterized by a slight dent through the middle of the
crown. The third most popular style is the planter
style which has a wide brim which protects you more from the Sun and a molded crown. The fourth style is the gold Panama hat which
oftentimes features an open weave because it’s so open, you get a better airflow especially
in breezy conditions. So where should you buy quality panama hats? Please check the guide on our website here. Where you can find the best hats for your
money in different price categories. So what should you pay attention to when you
buy a Panama hat? First, verify if it’s a handmade hat and the
original origin of the hat which can be quite tricky but if you go with a reputable hatter
or hat store, you’ll know they come from Ecuador. Ideally, you should buy for quality and longevity
not for price. One thing that’s often underestimated is the
shape of the Panama hat. The hat to your right is the typical Panama
shape that you find all over the place. No matter if your hat is $1,000 or $100, it’ll
always look like that. The one on your left is a vintage hat shape
and it has a taller, higher crown, and in my opinion, a much more attractive curved
shape. The problem is if you get a hat like this
one on the right and the brim has a certain size and the crown has a certain size you
can’t make it just into this shape. You need a hat that actually has the crown
height so pay attention to that because even if you have a really finely woven hat, it
won’t make you look as dapper as a hat that’s maybe a lower quality but has a superb shape. Don’t be discouraged by the hatbands and the
ribbons. Most of them are black and come in very boring
shapes but it’s very easy to take them off and have unusual colors in different shapes
added for a very low price. For example, for five bucks I got a green
hatband in the shape I wanted, in the size I wanted, it’s actually a vintage band and
I much prefer it to the standard conformist black band that you see everywhere. Traditional Fedora style panama hats usually
feature a leather sweatband, which in my opinion, is not ideal because it’s a hat you wear during
warmer seasons and as such, with a leather you’re more prone to sweating. In my case, I have zits on my forehead and
to prevent that, I either opt for a cloth headband or I go completely without one. When you buy hats sometimes, you find those
hat boxes and they’re usually more for decorative purposes and traditionally, sometimes, it
was a hallmark to show that a hat was so soft that you could roll it and put it in there
but if you have a nicely blocked hat, don’t roll it up and put it in those boxes because
you’ll destroy the hat. MY PANAMA HATS
One is the standard Panama hat in a nice even color, the weave is nice and dense but the
straw is not superfine, however, its back woven and it has a fabric sweatband. Golf style with air holes which is particularly
nice when you’re exercising and play golf or do other things in the summer and it comes
with a nice dark tobacco brown sweat band which I think looks much better than a black
one. Last but not least, they sent me this wonderful
Montecristi superfino which is a very nice and dense weave, beautifully back woven brim. Personally, I prefer different colored ones. It takes sometimes six months to make these
hats because of that, it doesn’t make sense to stock them and so they rather list individual
hats so you can see the exact weave count, you can see the color, you can see the shape,
and everything there is to that particular montecristi. Once it’s sold, it’s gone. When can you wear a Panama hat? Basically, all the time. I’m wearing it here with a seersucker suit
however you can go with a simple pair of swim trunks maybe with just a polo shirt just a
shirt because the main purpose is to keep your head out of the Sun and it’s a summer
hat and because of that you can really wear it with everything in your wardrobe. it’s probably the most versatile hat you’ll
ever own. So what about Panama etiquette? When should you not wear a Panama hat? Just like what we already know from our fedora
hat guide, you should not wear a hat when you are in places of worship or in people’s
homes unless of course it’s a public building like a railway station then you can keep it
on. Generally, it’s not a great idea to wear a
hat and sunglasses, however, with the Panama hat it’s slightly different because you wear
it when it’s really bright outside and if even the wide brim can’t protect your face
simply go with sunglasses even Prince Charles does it. In today’s video, I’m Wearing of course
a Panama hat which is a Montecristi superfino with a green hatband then I’m having a white
super thin light dress shirt which is very breathable and it’s from Milan it’s paired
with a seersucker suit single breasted three-button from Polo Ralph Lauren it has cuffs or turn
ups on the pants which helps to pull down the pants so they hang a little more nicely
it’s made out of a hundred percent cotton no added polyester or nylon and it has the
traditional crinkle seersucker cut if you want to learn more about this material please
check out our seersucker guide on the website here. I’m pairing it with a cri de la soie silk
knit tie from Fort Belvedere that is mottled in its appearance and it’s perfect for summer
I’m pairing it with a shinier silk pocket square in orange from printed English silk
also from Fort Belvedere which you can find in our shop here for the socks I added a dash
of color and went with solid blue ones with a clock pattern which are also from Fort Belvedere
you could alternatively go with all white socks especially if you wear white buckskin
shoes the way I do it which are from shoe passion and I’m combining them with green
shoelaces from Fort Belvedere to just break up that look and add a little more contrast
as you might notice I’m wearing barrel cuffs not cufflinks because it’s warm in the summer
and that cufflinks tend to make you feel hotter instead of the cufflinks I’m going with a
pinky ring that is blue that picks up the colors of the seersucker suit as you can see
the lapels are quite slim so a large boutonniere would not be in order however a small one
such like delphinium or another small flower would look perfect on it if you enjoyed this
video make sure to subscribe to our Channel and sign up to our newsletter so stuff like
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100 Replies to “Panama Hat Guide — Gentleman’s Gazette”

  1. Do one regarding Panama Suits or Tropical Suits please sir….. I live in a very hot climate but would love to wear a suit that's fashionable and lightweight….
    Thanks!!

  2. Excellent video! I learned so much about Panama Hats; I now feel compelled to add one to my wardrobe. I particularly enjoyed learning the history of Panama Hats. I’m curious as to how many hours it took you to make this extremely informative and fun to watch video. Thanks, Ed

  3. Extraordinaire beauté Pour la classe D'elegance dans l'air des beaux jours. Totale MERCI l'artiste " Top Classe "

  4. Was this video skipping about for anyone else?Might have been an editing issue. Otherwise a nice video, I think would have good to show how an optimo/colonial is rolled as well.

  5. Nice hats, problem is they often won't last more than one summer. Eventually they end up being stolen or wrinkled after a bbq or trip to the beach. (I blame alcohol)

  6. Wow, I knew zip about Panama hats and now I love them. What a process, and so clean and dapper looking. Thanks for the lovely work.

  7. Never been a big hat wearer, but this is really cool to learn about it! I may consider wearing one in the future.

  8. From The Panama Hat Company: "Another interesting aspect of its history is the tradition of the black band with which the majority of Panamas are trimmed. This originates from its most popular period in 1901, the year of the death of Queen Victoria."
    Other source a bit more clear: "The traditional black band on a Panama hat was added in mourning for Queen Victoria after her death in 1901."
    I consider the old black band extremely classy, and reminds me of my grandpa, a great, rustic man that loved the Panamas my godmother (his daughter) gave to him.

  9. These hats are incredible. It is an honor that you mention them on your channel. In addition to these hats, in my country we also have spectacular wool fabrics, jackets and leather shoes of the best quality (sorry for those who are against the use of leather). Greetings from Ecuador.

  10. There's such a thing as too much of a good thing. This isn't good style or fashion, this is excentricity. You seem like a nice guy, but odd. Dressing and acting like this would be amusing to most people, hardly the desired effect I am looking for.

  11. Thank you for the informative video. Is there a special way to care for and maintain this type of hat? How long will this type of hat last? Thank you for sharing.

  12. Was this video accidentally sped up during editing, or is he talking faster than normal? Is it just me or did anyone else notice?

  13. I love Panama hats, but sweat stains are always a problem for me with this category of summer hat…any suggestions? BTW, your socks and driving glove are FABULOUS!!!

  14. Panama was from Colombia before it was taken and “liberated” to build the Chanel so it is Colombia hat… best regards

  15. It is interesting that you prefer a tall and classic crown because I always searched for a smaller one ince I am tall anyways.

  16. I send most of my time in Australia, where it can be expected to be hot and sunny most of the time. Panamas are unpopular here; they just don't stand up to regular use at all well, and a decent one is many times the cost of proper sun / heat hats made of fur felt, notably the famous Akubra of course. Only the 'Planter' style has a brim wide enough to be truly useful in sunny climes, and the prices for decent examples of the 'Planter' are through the roof!
    When I first came to Australia 30 years back, I bought a very good Planter Panama simply because that's what I thought a sun hat was. It was a wreck not much more than a year later, and I bought a proper hat instead – which I have still got and have used virtually every day since!
    When you look at their popularity in history, it's worth remembering that Panamas were formerly nowhere near as relatively expensive as they are today, and they could in those days be replaced easily and economically. Not so now.
    I guess standard-size Panamas are fine for occasional use in places where there is a limited summer season of heat, and as a summer substitute for other forms of fashion hat, and I agree that they can look good, but they are an incredible waste of money in a really hot place.

  17. Crazy! On Saturday I came across Panama I bought while on port call in Panama, and began to wear it once more! looks phenomomenal with my outfits. Great Minds think alike!

  18. Raphael, I'd like to know your opinion on something. I don't own any black clothes, and I wear mostly blues, greens, khakis/browns and sometimes yellow. I'd like to add black to my wardrobe but I'm not really sure about how to pull it off or what to combine it with. Something that I'm interested in are black chelsea or Beatle boots, what tips or warnings do you have about them?
    Thanks in advance!

  19. Before i discovered your channel, my recommandation section was full of Mad Tv and comic books related videos. but now i'm only interested in fashion.

  20. I think the next hat to feature in this series should be the homburg, or western. I love western hats because of the many styles you can rock (but i know its not that formal or dapper but whatevs its my style) and i also fell in love with the homburg because of the formality and have been dying for a guide on one since its small time feature in your fedora vid. But what ever hat thats next im sure ill end up loving it anyways. Great work as usual

  21. Are there other types of hats suited for summer or humid weather? I live in the southeast. Materials..straw or cotton?

  22. Perfectly happy with my panama hat from Mayser´s has the back weave, even though it did not cost a fortune. In Europe you don´t need to leave the price tag on so that people see you bought something good.

  23. Panama hats kind of make people look like plantation owners. All that's missing in alot of cases is a non-rhotic southern American accent!

  24. BTW…..hats are seasonal…..felt for the winter & straw for the summer…..the"rule" is…..straw season begins with Easter Sunday and ends at the end of Sept……the rest of the year is for felt……

  25. Go to Panama, enjoy your holiday and buy your self some
    Hats. You can get the hats for way cheaper down there. There’s hat stores where you can get thousand dollar hats or 50/100 $ hats. The 50/100 hats they sale there is what the gringos Pay 500 for.

  26. I do not know about the expensive hats, but my Panama hats last for about two years, then the straw breaks, although I moisturize them regularly. That's why I do not see any sense in buying very expensive hats.

  27. Just for reference. It is okay to wear a Panama hat in a synagogue especially an Orthodox synagogue. Many men pray in a federa or other style hat for afternoon and evening services. Some also for morning services.

  28. Question: What on earth is the crease/crown style of the hat you're wearing in 0:55 called?
    I've been looking for it everywhere!

  29. simply putting a photo of the video or website in the top right corner does not help in procuring the link. please google how annotations work.

  30. I found a Montecristi that has been rolled up and stuffed in a box for over 30 years. Is there a place that I can take it and have it reshaped and banded (it has no band) in Lisbon, Madrid or Paris?

  31. I may be a bit late to the discussion, but I was wondering about the considerations of wearing a fedora shaped Panama hat with a dinner jacket for black tie, instead of a boater? In my mind I see it working best with the Monte Carlo reverse combination, but I feel it can be pulled out with a white dinner jacket too, or would it be other preferable with other Panama shapes, like the Optimo?
    Also, one bit of history that wasn't mentioned in the article, Jipijapa hats which were one of the many hats worn by Cubans and Spaniards during the Spanish-American, were also toquilla hats I assume, even them exported from Equador, they had the crown of the Optimo, but a wide brim.

  32. Going off a previous hat guide, you suggested wearing a hat band that was similar in color to the hat for those that are shorter or at least have shorter length heads. Would that light red banded Panama hat at the end then be the better match for the aforementioned face type?

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