If one were to compose a list of
Of course, insightful as he may have been,
Considering the circumstances leading up to the fashion for Panamas, it is easy to understand how these hats got their name. What else would sailors and latter-day forty-niners crossing the isthmus en route to
Construction begins with a special fiber from South American palm leaves called toquilla or jipijapa. The leaves are gathered and dipped in boiling water, allowed to dry and then shredded and bleached with sulfur. And while it is best for these strips to be woven while still moist, the weaving process never takes place underwater as romantic legend would have one believe.
The finesse of a high quality Panama hat is determined by the number of concentric rings or "vueltas" as they are referred to by those in the know, that fan out and around from the hat's center. The finer the straw strips and the tighter the weave, the more "vueltas" the finished hat will have. About seven ring strands make up an ordinary
The benefit of all this painstaking craftsmanship and micro weaving resulted in a finished
For staving off the sun's rays in spring and summer, nothing beats a light and airy
A well made Panama is often difficult to find, so ordering one in advance from a reputable hatter is advisable, although waiting time can be as long as three months for one that is made in South America. When shopping for a fine
A straw trilby or fedora makes for a perfect first summer straw hat
Various styles of Panamas have wavered in and out of style since the turn of the century. Most classic is the Optimo, which is easily recognized by the tall, full-shaped crown and telltale ridge or crease down its center.
It is fitting, somehow, that an American president be held accountable for the popularity of the Panama hat. Dwight D. Eisenhower, after all, did wonders for the military-inspired blouson jacket and Jimmy Carter rendered the chambray work shirt chic. And, sartorially speaking, even