Can we get another Gold Rush happening soon… like now? It’s what prompted the construction of the Panama Canal + from that the most beautiful palm straw hat was popularized. We know it as the Panama Hat. Here at Gigi Pip, we’re pretty enthralled with the best palm straw hats + we wanna let you in on all the details!
This is the straw hat that elevates every look, no matter the season – it's a classy, strong, handwoven straw hat that is made from the leaves of a palm tree.
The River was the first Panama hat style we released. We were so impressed with how the finished design turned out + customers loved it just as much (maybe more)! There was so much excitement around our first flat brim straw hat that we immediately started designing another Panama hat option. Which we named the Cove.
Your white summer dress with a puff sleeve will pair seamlessly with the Cove. We can’t get enough of these breezy neutral colors.
Most of the images of Panama hats from the past can be seen on Theodore Roosevelt while he was overseeing the Panama Canal project or on classy men in old movies. The brim is typically downward in the front + slightly upturned toward the back.
These hats can be woven + shaped in all different kinds of ways. There’s the style called Optimo, it’s a dome crown with a thin ridge from front to back + the brim is upturned. Another fun Panama hat style is the Gambler with a curled brim. We prefer a flat brim or pencil roll brim on our palm straw hats, but we like to switch it up for the shape of our crowns.
Soooo… not in Panama? It’s true – this hat traditionally comes from the coastal regions of Ecuador where the toquilla palm tree grows.
Like so many things in fashion, the palm straw weaving techniques needed for this type of hat have spread around to other countries like Guatemala, where we have our Panama hats handwoven.
The Gold Rush (1848 - 1855) – what a time to be alive! The Panama Hat gained its name from the many straw hats that were sold at markets + trading posts along the route heading into California through the Panama Canal.
Paris, the original + major influencer, introduced this chic straw hat style at the World’s Fair of 1855. Leave it to Paris to embrace a new look + cause a global obsession soon after.
Our palm straw hats come from Guatemala where the leaves are picked + cut into strips. The strips of leaves are boiled, turning them from their natural green to an ivory color + making them easier to separate into thin strands of straw.
From that point, the boiled leaves hang on the line to dry outside until completely free of any moisture. Once they’re ready, the ends of each strand are pulled apart further + braided.
The braided toquilla straw is rolled into a kind of spool + handed off to be sewn in a spiral pattern until an entire hat is constructed!
Natives of Ecuador have been weaving these hats since at least the early 1500s – this is when Spanish conquerors recorded seeing them for the first time.
These early headpieces were like nothing the Spaniards had ever seen, the intricate weaving techniques impressed them + the shine of the palm straw was beyond beautiful!
Later, around the 1630s, weaving palm straw into hats became a tradition around the coastal areas of Ecuador. “Jipijapa,” was one name that developed for the hat, + they also called it “toquilla,” named for the type of palm tree the straw was derived from.
The classic Panama hat represents independence and newly celebrated nationalism for the people of Ecuador following the Liberal Revolution of 1895. Ecuador saw both social and economic advancement during this period.
One of the first towns in Ecuador to make extremely high-quality Panama hats from the toquilla palm is called Montecristi. So of course, they had to name the hat after the town!
Some of the best Panama hats are called Montecristi Superfino, they are completely handmade with the finest straw – they sell for thousands of dollars + can take up to 6 months to weave from the very first braid up to the finishing touches.
We think history + styling of the Panama hat is as important as the hat itself. Knowing why the weaving techniques from the 16th century are so special, where the palm straw hat comes from (Ecuador), + how it is made are all a big part of why our palm straw styles are so gorgeous. Shop straw styles for every season. xx
Women's hat sizes are fairly intuitive. The average women's head size measures around 57cm. If you are unsure of your hat size the Gigi Pip small/medium hat would be the best starting point. The small/medium hat size is made to fit 57cm + can be adjusted down to 55cm. If you know you have a slightly larger head go with the 59cm size. As far as Gigi Pip sizing goes this is a medium/large, made to fit a 59cm head size + then can be adjusted down to 57cm. The largest size Gigi Pip offers is a 61 cm, labeled as an XL, like our other sizes the 61 can be sized down to 59 cm. For women who feel they have a slightly smaller head than normal we recommend an XS which begins at 55cm + can be sized down to 53 cm. In select styles we offer kids sizing which begins at 53 cm + can be adjusted to 51 cm.
In short- the most common hat size is a S/M (57cm). While this is the most common hat size, remember that properly sizing your Gigi Pip hat will ensure the best fit.
There are two primary methods of measuring your hat size + are based on the style in which you wear your hat. You will need to take both measurements (shown below) + then use the larger of the two measurements to determine your hat size. Once you've received your hat, you can decide how you would like to wear it + adjust your hat size accordingly.
TIP: If you don't have a textile measuring tape, use a string or piece of yarn to measure the distance around your head. After you have marked the yarn around your head, lay it out flat on the ground or table + measure the straightened out piece of yarn with a measuring stick or regular measuring tape.
Adjustable Inner Band Instructions
Flip up the sweatband to find the Velcro tab + pull to tighten. Velcro the ribbon back in place to secure your desired fit. The adjustable band can adjust the hat up to 5 cm when necessary! Some helpful tips about our adjustable inner band-
Hat Sizing Tape Instructions
Hat sizing tape is an additional option for tightening the fit of your hat. Place the foam tape on the inside of your hat, behind the sweatband, with the sticky side facing towards the hat wall. Wrap the tape completely around the hat for maximum size decrease or cut tape length in half for a more moderate decrease. Size to fit prior to removing the adhesive cover. Once the fit is correct, remove the adhesive cover, press firmly into place, and wa-lah.
For more questions about hat sizing, please contact Gigi Pip at email@example.com.