The Panama, a Hat of Many Styles


Visitors who plan to purchase a Panama hat during their travel to Ecuador may wish to study the subject before their Ecuador tours begin. Hats vary by color, weave and craftsmanship as well as coming in a myriad of styles. Take the crown for instance which may be shallow or deep. It may dimple and narrow at the top as in the Stetson or be dissected back to front by a ridge in the colonial style. Starting in the 19th century, some of the most popular styles over generations, have been variations of the fedora. The Borsalino was named for its Italian designer, Giuseppe Borsalino, whose company first produced a toquilla version of its popular felt hat style of the same name.

The crown may be rounded on top, such as the Etretat, a wide-brimmed style that women wear cocked seductively to the side and was named for the Normandy seaside resort that inspired French painters and writers where the hat gained popularity in the Twenties. The crowns of some Panama hat styles are flat on top such as the top hat and the bowler, giving a straight-laced look. The names of some styles carry a certain cache in themselves, such as the Gambler, a hat one imagines on Clark Gable or at the roulette table.

Brims are wide or narrow, straight or curled. Some curl slightly, others, a lot, such as the dandy and top hat styles. It isn’t a question of whether you’ll find a Panama hat to buy during your travel to Ecuador; it is a question of how will fit in your suitcase and how much you want spend. For a detailed description of how hat-makers turn Panama hats into so many different styles, see

Visitors planning to purchase a Panama hat on their Ecuador tours may wish to get in the mood by watching the 1970 French gangster film, Borsalino. Better still, take a look at Martine Buchet’s lushly illustrated 1995 book, Panama, a legendary hat. In prose and photographs, the book captures the reverence with which this hat has been appreciated over the centuries.