These are the days when it can seem as though spring will never come, but it does follow fall and when it does it will bring straw hat season with it. And, though their wallets may not have recovered from the depredations of the holidays, men who need a new panama hat should think about ordering theirs soon so as to be prepared. For the panama is to my eye the prince of hats, and well-dressed men should have at least one.
I've not tried him myself, but hatters I respect tell me that perhaps the best straw values are to be found at the Panama Hat Works of Monticristi, where the man called Panama Bob does good for both his customers and the straw hat making families of Ecuador. The firm offers hand woven hats from both Cuenca and Montecristi, the village most noted for its hats because it is the central marketplace for the weavers to sell their hat bodies. There are half a dozen styles in half a dozen grades, from inexpensive $40 beach hats to $1,100 Espinal Fino Optimos.
I like to wear an Optimo, probably because that was the style I saw on Sir Winston Churchill many years ago. But HRH Prince Charles appears to be wearing a Cubano in the photo and it's very handsome.
Time to order!