I wear Panama Hats on a near-daily basis during the spring and summer. For me, it is not just an expression of style, it is also a practical means of shielding my head from the relentless high-desert sun. Because I’m wearing a Panama Hat (or something like it) constantly, I generally replace them on a yearly basis. Straw hats usually start to develop sweat stains after a season of wear and are nearly impossible to clean. For that reason, I’m not interested in spending $80 or more for a quality Panama Hat. I look for low-cost alternatives that offer high style on a frugal budget.
A Great Source for Cheap, Stylish Panama Hats
China has a number of factories selling very low-cost straw hats that look much like the more expensive Panama Hats made in Ecuador. These hats are featured on the Chinese e-commerce website AliExpress.com. The hats I purchase (such as the ones shown on this page) typically cost me about $7.00 each including shipping. Of course, they may not satisfy hat purists who want the best quality. However, they offer all the style and utility I need at a rock-bottom price. I generally purchase two or three each season and wear them constantly.
These hats are generally shipped from China in flat packaging (they arrive in about two to four weeks). Therefore, you will need to use a steam iron or clothes steamer to reshape them when they arrive. It’s quite easy to do. Also, there is usually a limited range of standard sizes in the less expensive hats. However, for frugal style, these hats are an amazing buy. Visit aliexpress.com and do a search for straw hats, paper hats, and Panama Hats. This is frugal style on a budget!
In the photo above I am wearing a $7.00 aliexpress.com straw hat with a Hart Schaffner & Marx Gold Trumpeter lightweight wool suit purchased on poshmark.com (second-hand) for $22.00. The silk tie and 100% cotton shirt were purchased for $1.00 each from a local thrift shop. Learn how to thrift shop for menswear in this post!