Guys today rock felt fedoras, snapbacks, and beanies throughout the year, but there is only one type of material that works best for hats in summer: straw. These straw hats are guaranteed to keep the sun out of your face and help you look classy during these next hot months. But which one is right for you? Check out four of my favourite styles!
The Straw Boater
You might recall that these hats made a return in popularity thanks to the 2013 Gatsby film. While many people associate them with a barbershop quartet, these summer hats were huge in the 1920s and were utilized by gents of all trades (not just ones related to hair). Heck, a boater with a black band can be worn with a tuxedo! Either way, these hats are light, yet stiff. They have their roots in nautical menswear, so you’ll see them traditionally worn at regatta galas or boating races. Or at the Jazz Age Lawn Party!
Now these hats are meant to be tough yet breathable, so don’t buy ones that are flimsy, like the ones you see on Amazon. You should definitely try to buy vintage, so keep a look out on eBay for your size! Boaters are always available!
Spencer wears his nice light coloured straw with a light grey gaberdine suit and pink shirt. Since it’s summer, he suits up in season, keeping light (almost pastel) colours which help reflect the sun. He’s got a perfect late 40’s summer look!
It would definitely be odd if you wore your boater with a heavy fabric, like wool or tweed! Stick to light colors and light fabrics, like gaberdine (vintage), cotton, or seersucker!
Here’s my boater worn with it’s nautical accouterments. Nothing says prep like a blue and red striped tie!
While boaters are super cool and very fun, they do have a bit of an old vibe, since they were no longer widely worn after the 1950s. Wearing boaters isn’t for beginners in style, so remember to keep your outfit light! Your boater will then mesh wonderfully, in a sincerely dapper way.
1940’s bold look suit, Pink shirt from H&M, Vintage tie, boater, and spectators
Seersucker suit from Jos A. Bank, Shirt from H&M, Tie and pocket square from Express, Vintage Boater
The Classic Panama Hat
Made in Ecuador (just go with it!), a Panama hat is pretty much built like a straw fedora. It is made of fine straw, has a pinched crow and a medium to wide brim that snaps down. While the best ones are labeled Monticristi, you can also find these on eBay or if you’re actually traveling around (or at Target). Like the boater, make sure the one you get is not flimsy! While the lightest of the hats, it should still have structure.
While the boater is restricted to being a bit more dandy, the Panama can be passed off with modern looking clothes. While Adam definitely has the prep look down with his hat, this could also work with whites, khakis, light browns, or greys! Panamas tend to work with more types of clothes than boaters because of their classic fedora shape. This is just one of the many examples of Panama hats being dressed up.
What I love about Adam’s look is that it’s very 1920s-30s inspired. He’s got white pants (a staple) with a patch pocket blazer and a horizontal printed tie. It actually reminds me of the 20’s horizontally printed knit ties! Adam’s been a great learner and I can’t wait to see what he gets to next. This Panama hat was actually one of his earliest purchases and yet it looks great. Get a great one and wear it with anything; a panama hat is a must!
Vintage Panama hat, White jeans from Target, Blazer from Target, Vintage print tie, Shirt from H&M
The Optimo Panama Hat
This is the Panama hat’s dandier older brother. I’m not sure why it’s called Optimo, but these hats are made with a completely rounded top (no pinch) with a ridge. Personally, I see it as the straw version of the pith helmet. It is that reason (that it makes you look like a imperialism era colony guy) that makes this super dandy. My version has a very tall crown and a wide brim, marking it to be only worn with vintage clothes. It just wouldn’t look right with a modern cut suit! I recommend that most of you should pass on this particular hat unless you have the clothes for it.
Just like the guys before me, I still kept it pretty lightweight with my Optimo. I went straight 1930’s, with a gorgeously patterned blazer and grey summer wool pants (yes those existed). Finishing off with a bow tie adds to the whimsy of the overall outfit and adds a pop of color! I know that this Panama has got a wide brim, but it definitely shielded the son from my eyes. It definitely pulled some stares while I was out and about today, probably due to its unique shape. Keep off of this one for now gents!
Optimo Panama from eBay, Shirt from Luxire, Vintage other items
The Modern Panama Hat
Today, the modern panama has lost its snap brim and instead opts for a more homburg feel, with the brim snapped upward throughout the hat. This practice has even extended to fedoras, thanks to Pharell Williams. Having Panama hat in this style brings an air of casualness to your look and be worn with simple outfits! For example, I’m wearing a simple lightweight polo and penny loafers. It’s the most modern out of the previous looks and is the most fit for summer.
Even though we’re talking about the Panama here, I’d like to take a second to talk about this awesome printed polo. It’s lightweight (almost see-through) and it’s got a very deep placket. Deep plackets are great to have because they set this piece apart from the other normal polos. Plus, it allows you to just show off your chest when it’s getting to hot to bare!
Thrifted Modern Panama Hat, Polo from Uniqlo, Pants from Uniqlo, Thrifted Penny Loafers
So there are your choices for straws hats! You could do Gatsby with your Boater, look 30’s beach ready with your Optimo, or keep it sartorial or casual with your choice of Panama! Either way, these are some great hats to wear for summer. Let your caps rest a while, and class it up with some Summer Straw!
Always a pleasure,
Photography by Vince H.