A bonafide Panama Hat (ie. handmade by Ecuadorian artisans from Toqiulla straw) is a joy to be treasured. Elegant, timeless and practical, the Panama transforms any outfit and hair state to impossibly chic. Most importantly, it provides essential sun protection in our ozone-challenged climate.
It took us Sunday Trackers years to find our perfect Panamas – mine a natural coloured short-brim, Miriam’s a darker flat-top planter style. Like finally coughing up for a good leather jacket, once you know you know, and you’ll never go back to cheap and nasty versions.
With some practical TLC your precious Panama will continue to make you look and feel like a fashion blogger posing in Positano for years to come.
Rule number one: Never EVER pinch your hat by the crown
Whaaat?! It’s the natural human reaction to grab your hat by the fold in the front. RESIST and retrain your brain to lift your hat on and off by gently holding the brim or cupping the crown with an open hand. Pinching the crown not only damages the shape of the hat it will eventually cause the crown to rip. We learnt this the hard way.
Two: Rest upside down
When not on your head, rest your hat on a flat surface with the brim facing up (crown down). Hat racks and hooks work too. Back seat of the car, bed and desk are not good resting places for your hat. If you’re really serious about protecting your investment buy a hat box (eBay has tons of great vintage options).
Three: Do not add water
A light sun shower is survivable, a hard soaking will be much harder for your hat to come back from. If a gust of wind blows your Panama into the big wet, see step four for resuscitation.
Four: Steam to reshape
There are a couple of different methods you can try to restore a hat to its original shape and glory. One is to hold the hat in steam over a pan of boiling water and gently mold back into shape. Use the blow dryer on a low cool setting to dry. To reshape the brim you can use an iron on very low setting. The other is to lightly atomize it (a fancy word for spraying with a mist of water), re-shape it and allow to dry naturally.
Five: Wipe clean
If your hat is looking a bit grubby we recommend lightly wiping with a face wipe or baby wipe. A facecloth with a slight dab of water soap should also do the trick.
Six: Pack snugly
Of course, if you are a fashion blogger heading to Positano you want your hat to be Instagram-ready as soon as you step off the plane.
To safely pack your hat in checked luggage stuff the crown of your hat with some of your smalls—swimmers and sarongs are great for this. Ensure the brim of your hat is resting on a flat, even surface in your case, like the first layer of clothes. Place the hat brim side down and with additional clothes (maxi-dresses, skirts—anything that’s long) wrap around the outside of the crown till you’ve built up a solid barrier around your hat that you can continue to pack around. Ensure there’s enough height in your case so that the lid won’t squash the crown when you close it. More than one hat (you diva)? Place them snugly on top of each other, the smallest at the bottom, and pack in the same fashion.
When you get to your fabulous sunny destination be sure to unpack your hat straight away. Should it need some TLC, again see step four.
Years of endless summers will eventually take their toll on your Panama but as Marylin Monroe said, “imperfection is beauty” - any slight dents or discoloration only makes your hat more unique and special.