Last updated: 16/10/2022

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Hello, welcome! Today we will talk about a piece that is always present in the summer, pleasing different types of people: the panama hat.

Unlike what you might think, this model of hat was not created in Panama, but in Ecuador, and since it began to appear on the heads of the famous people who circulated in Los Angeles, it fell into the taste of Brazilians.

As well as protecting you from the heat, this is a basic piece of clothing that adds a lot of style to any look. And if you’re looking for one of these, you’ve come to the right place. In this review we’ll tell you all about this kind of hat, and by the end of this article you’ll know exactly how to choose yours


  • The panama hat is excellent to be used at beaches and pools, but it also combines with other everyday occasions such as walks in the park, barbecues and more.
  • The original models are made of straw from the Carludovica palmata plant or toquilla straw, but there are also those made of synthetic straw, which are cheaper.
  • The rounder shaped panama hats are ideal for lighter compositions, while the square ones are more formal.

The Best Panama Hat: Our Picks

Buying guide

The panama hat is a democratic accessory that can be worn by men and women and that matches with the most different styles and occasions. Very common to be seen in the summer, it is a great piece to be worn on the beach.

But is it also possible to wear it on a daily basis? With what types of clothes can I combine it? We will answer these and other questions in this buying guide to let you know all the characteristics of this product. To find out more, just keep reading.

Na foto uma mulher de roupa vermelha, chapéu e óculos de sol no meio de uma plantação de girassóis.

The panama hat is a versatile piece that can be used in several ways during the day to day. (Source: Andre Furtado / Pexels)

What is a panama hat and how did it originate?

The panama hat is a traditionally masculine piece, but it has gained the female wardrobe over the years. Very different from what people think, this much used hat model does not have a Panama origin, but was created in Ecuador a few centuries ago.

The history of this piece of clothing began during the colonization of the country when the Spaniards saw that the native people wore a different kind of hat. At the time, this accessory was produced in toquilla straw, found exclusively in Ecuadorian territory, and began to be worn by Spanish noblemen in the 18th century.

However, it was only after the independence of Ecuador that this hat gained success throughout Central America, arriving in Panama at the beginning of the 20th century.

But where did this name come from? The name Panama Hat became stronger when the hat began to be exported to Panama City during the construction of the Panama Canal.

During this period many Panamanians and tourists were wearing the hat and the name started to become popular. But the christening only happened when Theodore Roosevelt, President of the United States, visited the Panama Canal and said he was wearing a Panama hat.

Independently of the origin of this piece, this hat model is very successful in Brazil and gains in timelessness and versatility. It is often worn in the summer and is usually found in white, ivory and natural straw with a band of fabric, usually black, across its diameter.

This is not a big hat and it may have medium and large brims, serving not only to protect from the sun but also to complement the look of people of all ages and genders.

Na foto um chapéu panamá, um tablete, um óculos de sol, uma canga e uma tolha na frente de uma piscina.

The Panama Hat is a piece that has been conquering its space for a few years now and that is often used on warm and sunny days. (Source: Perfecto Capucine/ Pexels)

What are the advantages and disadvantages of the panama hat?

The main advantage of the Panama Hat is that it can be worn by people with different styles and on different occasions, not to mention the fact that it is unisex.

Precisely because of this, it can be considered a very versatile accessory that serves mainly for protection on hot days.

Another advantage is that the original models are produced with two or three wefts and can be folded without creasing. However, those with only one weave do not have this facility.

The downside is that with the popularization of this piece, cheaper models have emerged, which have thicker fibers and in smaller quantities, which end up allowing more light to enter, harming the sun protection.

  • It is unisex
  • Protects from the sun
  • Versatile
  • Some models can be folded
  • Cheaper models provide little protection from the sun

What is a Panama Hat made of?

The traditional model of panama hat is made of the straw of the Carludovica palmata plant or of the torquilla straw.

However, in Brazil they are often made of similar materials and can be found in shantung straw or synthetic straw.

How to wear a Panama Hat?

Both men and women have several ways to create stylish looks wearing a panama hat. This is an accessory that can be combined with various pieces of clothing and below you will find some tips.

For Women

For women, the most classic combination is with beach and pool clothes, but it is also possible to wear it with jeans. Both jeans trousers and shorts can be combined with a panama hat creating casual looks that are great for the day to day.

Other pieces that go great with this accessory are dresses, skirts, jumpsuits, shorts, pantaloons and bodysuits.

A good tip is to wear the panama hat with a low bun or ponytail, this way the hair is slightly out of the nape of the neck, giving a touch of freshness and elegance.

For men

For men, there is an infinity of options of pieces that can be combined with this accessory. What we said about jeans in the case of women also applies here and in men it ends up making a look that could be basic more interesting.

It is also possible to combine the panama hat with suits, customs and tailoring waistcoats and if you are thinking that this doesn’t work, know that it is very cool. In these cases, the accessory gives a touch of elegance, blending with the casual look.

Including, it looks great with linen suits and customs, which are very suitable for warm climates.

Another suggestion for more formal outfits is to wear it to weddings outdoors, so in addition to protecting yourself from the sun, you can also add a touch more to your look.

The panama hat can also be worn with cotton shirts and lighter tailored pieces. This is a way to make an outfit that would be very casual more sophisticated.

It also goes very well with clothes in candy colors, basic t-shirts and trainers.

Na foto um homem de camisa jeans e colete com um chapéu panamá encostado em uma parede sorrindo.

Panama Hats combined with more formal pieces give a touch of casual to the look. (Source: Bilkei/

What occasions go well with the panama hat?

As we said, the panama hat is an accessory that goes with several occasions and that is why it is so popular. With this, it is possible to use it both in more informal events, as in more social ones.

The only caveat is that this piece has as its main indication to be used during the day, so if you are going to a night event it is important to rethink the use.

Moreover, know that it goes very well with beaches and pools, walks to parks, barbecues, outdoor parties and even weddings.

Did you know that according to etiquette rules it is not correct to enter any environment wearing a hat? So, if you want to follow them remember this!

Buying Criteria: Factors to Compare Panama Hats

Now that you know everything about panama hats, it is time to choose yours. So that you do not make a mistake, we have separated the main points that you should consider when buying a panama hat. Check them out:


Even though all panama hats follow a similar pattern, there are some subtle differences between them.

There are those that are more rounded with a curve on the top. These are more delicate, casual and go well with more fluid outfits.

The other option are the hats with a more square crown and a little higher, giving the impression that they have larger brims. These models for having an air of greater seriousness match with clothes a little more formal.

Na foto um homem e duas mulheres se abraçando sorrindo em uma praia.

The rounder panama hats usually match a lot with lighter clothes and informal environments. (Source: nappy/ Pexels)

Number of fibers

The number of fibers that the panama hat has is directly related to the quality of the product, its durability and also to its degree of protection.

Remember when we said above that those with only one fibre cannot be folded? So, this is where it applies.

Not always this is specified by the manufacturers and a way to know if the model you are choosing has more or less quality is to check its price and the material in which it is made.

The cheapest panama hats are usually made of synthetic straw and have few fibers, so they end up protecting less from the sun and also last less.

The ones made with natural straw have a better quality, being safer and having a longer durability.


The most common panama hats are the ones in raw tones, white and ivory, with a black band. These are the most basic ones and also the most commonly found in shops.

However, nowadays, they are also sold in other colours and if you want your hat to be the highlight of your outfit, it is worth opting for one that is more out of the ordinary.

The colour of the band also changes and is another way to get out of the basics, since there are blue, pink, red and more bands.

Na foto uma mulher de costas com um chapéu panamá e um vestido roxo segurando girassóis.

Many people like to match the colour of the hat band to the outfit they are wearing that day. (Source: Andre Furtado/ Pexels)

Brim Size

The brim size of the hat is also a bit variable and there are medium brim and wide brim options. Which one you should choose is directly related to the place where you will use the piece.

The medium brim hats are great for day to day occasions where there is not so much continuous exposure to the sun. For those who are going to use the hat at beaches and pools, however, the wide brim hats are the best because they provide more protection from the sun.

(Source of the image: Riccardo Bresciani / Pexels)