July 23, 2017 | Style

The Secret to Keeping Your Panama Hat in Shape and Summer-Ready

by Alexis Assoignon

Panama straw hat French style How to keep its shape

PHOTO: Pinterest

Timeless, effortless, and always cool, the panama hat has become the choice accessory of sun-seeking French girls everywhere. Whether we found ours during a trip to Cartagena, walking a Parisian flea market, or on sale at Zara (we won’t tell!), this is the only hat we need for summer.

In an effort to create a quality wardrobe of meaningful pieces that we adore and wear for years, here’s how we’ve learned to make our panama hats last for many seasons to come.


Secret #1 - Rest upside down – or hang

Unless you are taking a photo for Instagram you, should always rest your hat upside down, or hang it up – so that the hook rests on the sweatband of the hat, not against the straw. This maintains the shape of your brim and the structure of the crown, preventing the sides of the hat from eventually bending downward.


Secret #2 - Hold by the brim

Whatever you do, resist the urge to pinch the crown of the hat! Despite what you’ve seen in the movies, this is panama sacrilege. To maintain the shape of your hat, pick it up by the brim with two hands, or you can grab the crown gently from the top with a soft, open grip. She is a delicate work of wearable art.


Secret #3 - Wear her on the plane

The easiest way to travel with your hat is to wear it, or carry it with you in a separate bag. Although most panama hats are flexible, avoid crushing in a stuffed suitcase – or accidentally laying on yours after that extra margarita by the pool. Any heavy objects (including your cheeky cat) could end up deforming it permanently.


Secret #4 - Gently wipe clean

Use a damp cloth to remove stains, rubbing with the grain. You can also try using a mild soap or a white eraser!


Secret #5 - The occasional brushing

Over the cold winter months your hat could get dusty. Use a soft brush to remove any dust caught in the straw, preventing surface stains and maintaining the natural color of your hat.


Secret #6 – Not too hot, not too cold

The straw fibres can be quite sensitive to extreme temperatures. We recommend storing your hat someplace cool, away from direct sunlight. And it may seem counter intuitive for a summer accessory, but do not leave your hat in the sun for too long. The heat can cause the straw fibres to get dehydrated and crack.


Secret #7 - Stay away from water

If your hat gets blown into the pool or caught in the rain, leave it to dry naturally. Don’t add any heat. It should regain its shape (fingers crossed!).


Secret #8 - Steam those wrinkles

Find a small wrinkle? You should be able to remove it by gently steaming your hat and carefully reshaping it with your fingers.


Panama straw hat French style How to keep its shape

PHOTO: Pinterest

Secret #9 - Don’t keep it rolled up for too long

Rolling your hat can be a convenient alternative when packing for holidays. But do not leave your hat rolled up for long periods of time (i.e. all winter), otherwise the straw could get deformed.

While many authentic panama hats can be rolled up, there’s a specific way to do it that preserves her shape and prevents breakage. Here’s how to do it:

1. Turn the brim of the hat down all the way around.

2. Hold the hat vertically and carefully push one vertical half or cross-section into the other half, so that it looks like you’ve got half a hat from top to bottom.

3. Gently roll the hat loosely from side to side.

4. We realize how hard this is to explain so we recommend watching someone do it on YouTube first!


Now a Panama expert, but still missing the hat?

Our favorite panama hats are consciously-made by G.Viteri. Masters in weaving toquilla straw, these guys make the perfect version of the panama hat that is equal parts classic, stylish and chic. Plus, G.Viteri works with artisans in Ecuador to produce these hand-made beauties sustainably and fair trade.


Have we missed anything? Share your panama hat care recommendations in the comments below!

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