One of the most understated essentials in fashion is a good hat. Everywhere I travel to I seem to acquire a new hat. Whether it’s an Akubra hat from Australia or an alpaca fur hat from Peru. I could probably start a whole new blog dedicated to my love for hats (and bikinis of course).

While there is an endless selection of hats in the world, my favorite of them all is the Panama Hat. They’re classy, elegant and functional all at the same time.

FFPanamaFeatDespite the name, the Panama Hat is actually of Ecuadorian origin. Today, the style has been widespread and duplicated around the world. I actually scored my knockoff Panama Hat from a street vendor in Athens, Greece. While my hat isn’t a “real” Panama Hat (in terms of the professional weaving technique used to create these awesome hats) it follows the style.

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Authentic Panama Hats are created using a master weaving and blocking technique. The finest of these hats (the “superfino” or “Montecristis”) can have as many as 1600-2500 weaves per square inch and can cost an upwards of nearly $1,000!

Hopefully one day I can get myself the real thing.

For now, I’ll settle for my $5 version.

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So why are they called Panama Hats?

threequarter-RooseveltThe Panama Hat Company, Brent Black, does a really good job of explaining the history of the Panama Hat but I’ll do my best to explain.

Basically, when the hats were first woven back in the mid-1800’s (before the Panama Canal), many people were traveling across the isthmus to get from east to west or vice versa. The smart Ecuadorian business people saw a market for their hats and went for it.

Then, once the Panama Canal was built, this one guy, President Theodore Roosevelt, was photographed wearing one of the Panama Hats. Voilà! The photo was widely published across the US and the hat became a highly sought after fashion essential.

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Leggings: Lululemon * Blouse: Forever 21 * Boots: Report * Watch: Michael Kors

So there it is, the stylish and surprisingly historic Panama Hat!

Here’s a look at “Where I Wore It.”

Wadi Rum Desert, Jordan

Wadi Rum Desert, Jordan

Athens, Greece

Athens, Greece

Mt. Nebo, Jordan

Mt. Nebo, Jordan

Huge thanks to photography by:

BlackFocused

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Kiersten Rich
Kiersten Rich is the bikini-obsessed author of award-winning solo female travel and lifestyle blog, The Blonde Abroad, featuring travel tips, fashion, food, festivals and photography from around the world.