Every woman needs a unique summer accessory in her wardrobe that she can style to fit in anywhere, from bustling city streets to relaxed beaches. Sun hats are a fashion essential for any adventure. Especially if you are looking for a universal sun hat accessory, the Panama hat will quickly become an accessory you simply can’t live without. While traditionally panama hats were associated with men – think Leonardo DiCaprio in The Great Gatsby – today they’ve become a fashion statement that any woman’s wardrobe needs. In this guide we will focus exactly on that - how to wear women’s Panama Hats for different looks, helping you feel even more comfortable and empowered in an elevated sun hat.

We will learn how to style a Panama hat, from dressy to casual looks, and explore certain style nuances that are key to achieving the look you want. Let’s make your outfit shine - we promise you will look and feel your absolute best, even on your bad hair days!

What is a Panama Hat?

The panama hats are known for their lightweight and breathable structure, traditionally with a shorter brim. As with most sun hats, the quality of a Panama hat is usually defined by the tightness of the weave. Made from the fibers of the Carludovica palmata plant, it is great sun protection against the harsh tropical (or city) sun.

Despite its name, the Panama hat actually originates from Ecuador, not Panama. In the 1850s, due to low tourism and international trade in Ecuador, local hat makers brought their craft to the trade center of Panama to reach more buyers. These hats gained popularity among gold prospectors traveling through Panama during the Californian Gold Rush, leading hat-wearers to spread the word about the great hats they got in Panama – thus earning the name "Panama hats''. 

Choose the Perfect Color

Traditionally, a Panama hat is in a natural light ivory shade, complemented by a contrasting black band. While lighter colors are favored for reflecting sunlight and keeping cool, don’t shy away from other shades when it comes to finding the long-lasting accessory for your wardrobe. The key to nailing the perfect look at the end of the day lies in how you style, mix and match it. 

Here's how to choose your Panama hat:

  • Natural color is the universal option that will complement the majority of your wardrobe and will tie your outfits together nicely.
  • Black color: For adding depth and contrast to your outfit, making it suitable for both casual and more formal occasions. It will nicely tie together any light colored outfits with black details (think belt or boots).
  • White color: For a look that’s clean, and fresh aesthetic. You can’t go wrong with a white hat for an all white look, or just brightening up your outfit.
  • Pecan color: For bringing warmth, cozy and casual flair to your attire. It will nicely contrast any navy outfits, or complement your already warm-in-tone looks.

Make it Casual

Woman with white blouse wearing black panama hat.


For a casual look, opt for airy fabrics such as cotton and linen. Pieces you probably already have in your wardrobe, like a classic white blouse (or shirt) paired with jeans, are always a casual move. Consider unbuttoning the top buttons of the shirt for a relaxed vibe. For this outfit, adding a black Panama hat will add contrast and a touch of elegance to your outfit of the day.

On hot summer days, swapping out for high-waisted shorts and a crop top can keep you cool and combined with a lighter colored Panama hat, it will bring you a playful and cheeky look.

When accessories, remember that the Panama hat is already a bold accessory by itself. We recommend complementing it with boho-inspired jewelry, while still keeping it minimalistic. Sunglasses can also be a chic addition to your look.

Footwear choices can differ season to season. Opt for sneakers in spring for a fresh look, and switch to sandals or espadrilles as summer arrives!

Make it Dressy

Woman wearing silver panama hat with pink silk dress.


A Panama hat can transition to a dressy look when matched with the right pieces and colors. Consider pairing it with a chic midi dress to maintain a polished silhouette. Just ensure there's a balance between the outfit's flow and its structure. A Panama hat in silver will pair beautifully with luxurious fabrics such as silk or satin.

If you prefer to create a bolder look, style it with a blazer or even a suit set. This will make your outfit and silhouette look more unique and powerful. 

Complement your elegant attire with subtle accessories without overshadowing the Panama hat. Going for a minimalistic golden necklace or a string of pearls can add a finishing touch to complete the look. 

When it comes to footwear, we recommend a dressy sandal you in the evening, and booties or classic heels l when going to lunch with your friends.

Make it Beachy

Woman on the beach wearing panama hat.


Panama hats are highly convenient for sunny beach days, as they offer excellent sun protection. You might prefer a Panama hat with a slightly wider brim to cover more of your face. Teamed with a carefree outfit, a Panama hat becomes the embodiment of summer, perfect for lounging by the pool or collecting seashells along the shore.

For this occasion, we recommend choosing a natural straw-colored Panama hat for its golden hue, reminiscent of sandy shores and sunset. Pair it with lightweight, colorful fabrics like a colorful kaftan, a breathable linen dress, or a playful sarong.

To complement your outfit, keep your accessories simple. A basic shell necklace or a pair of hoop earrings can add a nice and elegant touch to your seaside inspired outfit.

For footwear, opt for something easy to take off and on, and that can withstand getting wet. Sandals or flip-flops are ideal, as they can easily slip off when you’re ready to stroll along the shoreline or dip your toes in the water.

To sum up …

If you don't yet have one in your closet yet, we’re sure you now know that Panama hats are worth it. Adding one or two to your wardrobe is like shopping for multiple new outfits as they can elevate any look and completely change its silhouette and feel. Its versatility is countless, always ensuring your outfit stands out from the rest. 

At Hat Attack, our mission is to provide high-quality hats with SPF protection to shield you from the sun's rays. Our Panama hats for women are made from authentic Panama straw and leather trims of your choice, so we are sure you will find a combination that will elevate your wardrobe. Check out our collection!

Written by Cooper cooper@hatattack.com

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