How to steam and reshape your Panama hat : Keeping your hat looking good takes a little practice
How to steam and reshape your Panama hat
Keeping your hat looking good takes a little practice
Panama hats are porous and made from natural straw, so over time they change shape and reflect the life they have lived. Sometimes you will 'injure' them, but there are a few tricks to healing all their maladies.
Using your household kettle, steam from a pot, a steam iron or a proper steamer you can soften the straw and reshape it any way you like. Obviously, be careful not to scald yourself and take your time. Feel into your hat and learn to judge when it is soft enough to work with.
When your hat is warmed with steam, it softens like wet cardboard. You can then reshape it any way you like and it will hold that shape to a large degree. As it drys, the straw fibres realign, and your hat forms a memory for the shape you have made. It is kind of magical and the reason why Panama hats have been so successful, for so long.
You don't need any fancy tools, just some steam and some patience. Once you get the hang of it, your hats will always look just the way you like them.
In the old days, everyone knew how to care for their Panama. It was much the same as ironing a shirt and brushing a coat. Hat owners understood how to groom their hat into their dream shape. Sitting on the train, with your hat in your hand, you would refine and tweak its styling while you daydreamed. It is a beautiful, almost meditative old practice.
Below is a little movie that runs through the process. There are also some links for further learning too.