Hats are an integral part of any man’s wardrobe and for good reason. Hats can quite literally be the cherry on top of an outfit, pulling together casual, semi-casual, and formal looks alike. Whether you opt for a baseball hat while you’re out and about (or, you know, actually playing baseball), sport a straw lifeguard hat at the beach or pool, or need a little something to finish off your unique look at the Kentucky Derby, hats are both a fun and practical accessory that will add a little pizzazz to any look.
Two popular types of hats we’re going to get into are the Panama hat and the fedora – both of which look very similar to one another. However, there are some key differences between a Panama hat and a fedora, which we’ll explain below. So if you’re on the hunt for another hat to add to your collection and are looking for something other than your basic baseball cap or ultra-formal top hat, either a Panama hat or fedora (or both) should be on your radar.
What Is a Panama Hat?
Panama hats are hats that are woven out of a specific straw material made from the Toquilla plant and are very lightweight. An interesting detail about the Panama hat is that despite its name, it didn’t originate in Panama; it actually originated in Ecuador and was given its name for being brought to California through the Panama Canal.
Panama hats typically feature a brim that is slightly curved or flat, a low-profile crown with center pinches on the crown, and a center dent or crease. These hats typically also have a ribbon or band around the rim to add a bit of detailing and richness to the hat.
What Is a Fedora?
The design of a fedora is similar to that of a Panama hat, featuring pinched sides and a crease down the center of the crown. Fedoras are typically made out of heavier fabric and materials, like wool, felt, or even leather. Fedoras can also come in wide and narrow brim styles, are typically available in neutral or darker colors, and add a timeless, classic finish on any casual to semi-formal outfit.
What Are the Main Differences Between a Panama Hat and a Fedora?
Although the Panama hat and the fedora are similar in design, there are a few key differences between the two popular styles of hats. One of the main differences between Panama hats and fedoras is the material they’re made of. Panama hats are only made out of straw from the Toquilla plant, which is native to Ecuador. Fedoras are usually made of heavier materials, like wool or felt, as mentioned above.
Another difference between the two styles of hats is their historical origin. Panama hats originated as far back as the 1600s and were worn by those who work outdoors, pioneers, and others who needed lightweight, portable hats. Fedoras, however, gained popularity in fashion through theater in the 1800s, and are usually worn in more formal settings.
As mentioned above, Panama hats are suitable for outdoor wear and travel really well, so they’re a great option when it comes to putting together vacation or warm weather looks. While some fedoras can work for outdoor wear (if they’re made of a lightweight material like straw), this style of hat is typically saved for cooler temps and cold weather wear, thanks to the heavier materials and darker colors they come in, like black (the most classic), brown, blue, and grey.
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How To Style a Panama Hat
The great thing about styling Panama hats is that this specific style of hat can work for both casual and semi-formal settings, depending on the dress code and weather – which, if you’re thinking about styling a Panama hat, you’re probably not jetting off to a ski resort in the middle of winter, so any clothes that you wear in warmer temps are fair game.
Panama hats will look best with anything made of lightweight fabric, like cotton chinos or linen pants that hit above the ankle paired with a linen-cotton blend button down, solid white t-shirt, or a funky short sleeve button down with a tropical pattern. Basically, anything that resembles resort wear or “I’m going to brunch then on a boat” will work with Panama hats.
For a Panama hat that’ll go with everything, try the Tommy Bahama Straw Safari Remy hat, which offers a classic Panama silhouette, three-inch brim, and leather band. If you’re aiming for a more adventurous aesthetic that will check both the functional and fashionable boxes, check out the Scala Panama Outback Taos hat, which features a wider brim for maximum sun protection that’ll keep you cool all day long.
How To Style a Fedora
Step one: Google images of Jason Mraz, then proceed accordingly. Just kidding – you don’t have to be an early 2000s singer-songwriter to pull off a fedora, and it’s actually easier to seamlessly style a fedora with any casual to semi-formal outfit; it just depends on what event you’re going to or what occasion you’re dressing for, and what you plan on wearing in those settings.
Fedoras can be the perfect accessory to finish off a casual outfit, whether you’re wearing chinos and a blazer or jeans and a t-shirt; it all depends on the look you’re going for. A classic black fedora typically goes with everything, and looks sharp in a monochromatic, minimalist color palette, from streetwear to formal wear. Check out the Wool Felt Finlay Fedora from designer Stacy Adams, which has a wider and flat brim, and pair it with skinny black denim, a white or black tee, and a black leather jacket for an effortlessly cool and edgy look.
If you’re looking for a fedora to add a little pizzazz to your semi-formal or formal outfit, something like the Harrison Felt Fedora, which is also designed by Stacy Adams and features a shorter brim, is an excellent choice. The bold Oxblood color and black band are statement-making but not in-your-face, and pair well with any neutral or dark color.
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