1914 Panama Hats

19-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Friday, May 15, 1914: Nothing much doing.

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Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

Two days ago I did a post about Grandma’s attempt to remodel a hat. When I was looking for a picture to illustrate that post, I came across some wonderful pictures of Panama hats in the June, 1914 issue of Ladies Home Journal.

The hats were linked to a major historic event and engineering feat—the building of the Panama Canal. In spring, 1914 the canal was nearing completions—and it would officially open on August 15, 1914.

Since Grandma didn’t write much a hundred years ago today, I’m going to share some of those pictures.

The Panama Hat for Any Occasion

The name of the hat designs illustrated here would of itself arouse an unusual feeling of interest, but in addition to that The Journal is able to present the name of Mrs. William Crawford Gorgas—wife of the most able and eminent physician, now Surgeon-General of the United States Army who first made the digging of the Panama Canal possible by his great work on sanitation.

These hat designs which vary from morning to afternoon fashions have been admired and endorsed by Mrs. Gorgas as representing the most charming and becoming hats for the summer girl.

The flexibility of the straw affords many opportunities for the shaping to individual lines and expression, while its delicate tint can hardly fail to blend with one’s natural coloring whatever it may be.

Fancy-band trimmings, scarfs, flowers, and feathers have changed the Panama hat, originally used for protection from the sun and for knock-about wear, into a thing of dress and beauty to be worn upon any occasion.

Ladies Home Journal (June, 1914)

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23 Responses

  1. Sometimes I wish we could pull off a hat like that today! Something to be said for such fine hats.

  2. Adorable hats! Very easy on the eye. Not so sure about trying to wear one, though!

  3. I always wondered why they were called panama hats. These ones are lovely. We had to wear panama hats as part of our school uniform. They were not elegant at all. There was a rhyme said about us that went like this “Rangi Ruru, rotten rats, go to school in panama hats.” :D

  4. I never knew why they were called Panama hats! They’re so beautiful….my, how times have changed. …..sigh…..

  5. These are such elaborate versions of the simple, utilitarian Panama hat… Wouldn’t they be heavy?

  6. And what a great way to hide a bad hair day!

  7. Didn’t know that about the Panama hat!!!

  8. According to this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Panama_hat they should be called Ecuadorian hats. I think they got cheated. :-)

    • Thanks for the link. This is really interesting. If I was Ecuadorian, I think that I would have been annoyed that another country was getting the credit for hats made in my country.

  9. They look wonderful for springtime ;)

  10. Girls looked so elegant! Today, much older, they might wear Tilley hats.

  11. What lovely hats! Kinda wish they had never gone out of style. The interesting thing, though, is they are often on display in the stores. I wonder who buys them, because one doesn’t often see people wearing them.

    Panama hat also makes me think of my father. Men also wore panama hats, though obviously they didn’t look like these.

    • My friends and I used to love to try on hats in stores when we were teens, but we didn’t buy them. But someone must buy them, since you won’t think that stores would continue to stock them if they were selling.

      I also think of men wearing Panama hats.

  12. I love hats! Lucky they were in style then.

  13. So pretty!

  14. Too bad hats went out of fashion, for the most part. I’d love one of those!

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