If you want to get ahead……

All posts are equal. Some posts are more equal than others. This falls into the very important category.

I bought my first proper Panama in 1999. In Quito. Panama hats do not of course come from Panama. They come from Ecuador. As the great Nigel Molesworth once said, any fule kno thatΒ (sic). Where I lost my beloved Panama I do not recall but it went astray. Possibly it is hiding with all the odd socks that escape from drawers and washing machines. I bought a poor substitute in Rome in 2008 and it served adequately until it mysteriously became soaked. I blame the rain. Mrs. Ha recently threw it away. The little tinker.

So I began a quest for a new Panama. HK drew a blank. There must be a decent hat shop somewhere. Dunhill let me down. I suspect Gieves & Hawkes in The Galleria might sell them but I didn’t think of them at the time. And so it came to pass on our last afternoon in Lisbon that we stumbled on a proper hat shop. And in we jolly well went.

This was a serious hat shop but they only had one roll up, store-in-a-box Panama. I bought it. Here it is.

Panama HatboxAnd open sesame!!


And the great dΓ©nouement…


Isn’t it grand! Isn’t it fine! Look at the cut, the style, the line!

And then I saw another one. Different style but equally alluring. I bought it as well and wore it out of the shop, now fully comfortable in my dress code.

Hat2If you ignore the growing paunch, the camera backpack and the vest full of lenses etc. then I just about pass muster in Mrs. Ha’s eyes. There was sadly no reason to carry an umbrella. Did you know that in Germany The Avengers ran as Mit Schirm, Charme und Melone. I think I would have made a good John Steed if I could have found my Mrs. Peel. Patrick Macnee never sounded as good in German, I have to say.

PanamashopHow much will a decent Panama set you back? No idea. The banker paid cash. She said something about 160 Euros and I suspect that was for two. You can’t quibble over quality. So Mrs. Ha tells me whenever she goes shopping. Pay up, pay up and pay again.

And that is it. Not a Fujifilm XT-1 in sight I’m afraid. I hope you will all dash out and get yourselves a Panama. You know you want one; go on.



44 thoughts on “If you want to get ahead……

    • Thank you Gerard. Not Lisbon. But we did like Salamanca. I think Madrid must be worth a look. I think Spanish is easier to learn than Portuguese.

  1. Andrew, you are a mine of information! I’m afraid I just assumed that Panama hats came from Panama. What an ignoramus I am! I should be ashamed of myself, as I am a great wearer of hats.

    You were quite justified in getting two, as they are quite different; the second being very smart and the first having that ‘lived in look’ – and oh what a lovely box! (Did the second one have a box too – or bag, or maybe a tube?

    • How odd that the box should be so popular! The second had no tube, box or cloth bag. They can only be rolled if they are a certain shape hence the ‘lived in’ look of the first one. Perhaps there is a market in selling the empty boxes. Maybe it is left over form our childhood. We all know children that get given expensive presents, which they duly ignore in favour of the packaging.

  2. Signor Pedro would be most envious if I showed him your recent purchases (so I’m not going to) Andrew, you look most distinguished in your new titfer, dapper as ever, I’m sure Mrs Ha is proud to be on your arm. And here is one of my favourite Jewish sayings ‘I wish you well to wear it’. P.S I’m with Jenny on the box πŸ˜€

      • I have no idea – I wonder what Mr Freud would have to say on the matter? Maybe it’s some deep-rooted thing about wanting to compartmentalise stuff – who knows. Oh lols, I’m now thinking about chests! – this could run and run. Wasn’t there some game show years ago where the contestants used to shout ‘It’s in the box!’?

      • Open the box! Take your pick with Michael Miles. You had to choose between taking the money or opening the box. The boxes contained prizes, one of which was the booby prize. So you either got a guaranteed sum of money or you gambled. I think the jackpot was Β£60 or something like that.

    • And the sad thing Hilary is that here at least many are closing because the rent is unaffordable. I was looking for a picture framer shop last week. Lyndhurst Terrace was full of them when I came to HK in 1997. Now there is 1. And there is a 1 month wait. In the end I went to a gallery. The framing cost me 2x the photograph I bought in Salamanca. Very sorry state of affairs.

      • Welcome to global corporate capitalism! Down with the small stakeholder and the merchant class! OK, the exclamation points are a bit much, but the “very sorry state of affairs” pivots on the relentless quest by big box stores, online warehousers and their shipping company collaborators, and branded franchises to crush all competition. Our refusal as “consumers” to pay the extra mark-up necessary for the independent merchants to survive speeds the destruction of the smallholder. Ultimately, we pay more and wait longer after the competition is crushed. But this was about nice hats, wasn’t it? Nice hats. Over here you can get a nice Panama made by Stetson. Or you could. Mine is about a decade old, no longer in style. Hanging on a hook.

      • I have never been style conscious, Eb. Just comfort.

        Too many people now go into a store, choose what they want then buy online. Its a major headache for bricks and mortar real retailers.

      • On a small note of cheer, our big village has been growing shops in the last few years and they seem to be thriving. This includes a picture framer. No one really understands why.

      • We have a picture framer in the town but I hear mixed reviews so I have not chanced my arm there. It looks pretty scruffy. It is good that some villages thrive. Long may it continue.

    • The Coolibar looks good, Steve. I have something similar. The kramas are incredibly cheap as the locals use them. I would not wear a panama for working in the field. I own only 1 baseball cap and it is very old. It has the brim on the front unlike the modern ones.

      • I am not very modern, Andrew. All my caps have the brim on the front or rather, all my caps have me on the front. πŸ™‚
        My caps do occasionally wear me on the back when I am trying to look through my viewfinder.

  3. Boxes – I think it might be something to do with the presentation and anticipation of what might be inside. I know my granddaughters love exotically wrapped gifts, whereas my grandsons don’t give them a second glance – much preferring to rip off the packaging ASAP to get at the contents.

    • Craig, that looks perfectly good to me but I don’t know whether it rolls up. M&S are doing some rather good linen trousers in HK and they have my size! I bought 3 pairs. As a poverty-stricken retiree I have to buy a bargain when I see one.

  4. Hey !
    I thought I was the only DFOF* in HK who wore M&S linen “kecks”…
    and we can all use another hat, boxed or not…

    *Dedicated Follower of Fashion

  5. There is a large Cuban community where I live and I always see the gents wearing their panama hats.. so dashing.. You fit right in with those gents!
    Love the box it comes in as well πŸ™‚

    • It is a shame that hats aren’t as popular as they once were. My dad wore a Trilby. Don’t see them nowadays. I think I’m going to sell empty boxes!

  6. Fancy, love it (and the box that the hats come in too)! Will keep a look out for this shop when I’m in Lisbon this weekend. Funny enough, we bought an umbrella (and gloves) when we were in Porto the last time – out of pure necessity of course πŸ˜‰

  7. You look fab in your new hat! Both hats are wonderful, my husband would’ve been thrilled to find this shop. Put me down as a +1 for the box, too. Just something about a well constructed wooden box!

  8. since we are all voting, I want to make mine count for the box too!!!

    … and I LOVE hats. Too bad I look like a dork in a hat, but you look very

  9. Two very nice looking hats you’ve got there. Everytime you don one it will give you fond memories of your pursuit of a hat/s. You look quite the gentleman in the hats. I like your choices very much.

    Now if you should ever want one with a western style or similar πŸ™‚ we have in my little ole town a hat company called Standard Hat Works. Lots of famous folks have purchased a hat from SHW.

    I get my outdoor sun hats from a company in Austin that imports Mexican hats made of palm leaves. My cost is around 40-35 dollars with some added shipping. This is the only hat that I’ve ever gotten that actually fits my small head.

    There are more small hat companies in Texas that have a thriving business of custom made quality merchandise.

    I enjoyed this post very much. Good writing with great looking photos. πŸ™‚

    • Thanks Yvonne. SHW sounds just what we need. I am happy that small companies can survive and thrive on quality. It is down to the consumer to choose. I steadfastly refuse to buy “Made in China”.

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