Friday, May 15, 2009

Summer Wardrobe Edition...Starting from the Top!

Often times, I get inquiries from subscribers from near and far about what the properly dressed gentleman should be wearing this season. Most of the time, I just say, "How the Hell would I know and why are you asking me?" On the other hand, watching some of the comings and goings of recent male fashions, I have decided I should take my rightful place as a male fashion trend setter. I've had enough of other people making fools of themselves with poor taste in fashion - its high time for me to come out and take the lead on this subject.... I'll start at the top.

Starting at the top, no gentleman can be fully dressed without the proper chapeau, fedora, or to make it simple for you are less aware of gentleman's need a good hat. There are a number of options here but there are some basic requirements. For summer time fashion, a hat must;

  • be cool in the hot summer sun

  • make a bold statement about the gentleman's personality, and

  • look cool and sophisticated for the ladies.

Obviously, comfort in the summer is a priority and this rules out all the fine felt fedoras, Stetsons, and my favorite the Kangol Wool Beret. While these can set a fine tone on winter occasions, they could easily cause a heat stroke in the hot Texas summer sun. Hell, they might even cause a heat stroke in the Michigan summer. I am ruling these out - fashion should never completely over rule safety and comfort in attire.

Now in terms of summer head wear a lot of my buddies go with the basic baseball cap. To be honest, these things have "BUBBA" written all over them. I mean, what kind of fashion statement does it really make when you're out there sporting your bright green cap with yellow letters that advertises John Deere Tractors. It may be true that "Nothing Runs Like a Deere", but nothing will run off a sophisticated babe faster than one of these John Deere Caps. The last statement is not true, dipping Copenhagen Stuff will run women off faster than you can say "Let Go!". (The last two statements are not always true, if you are from Georgia, Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana, or some parts of Northeast Texas.) Still basically, unless you plan to have a date at the local farm supply - leave these things at home. See picture at right, Glenn Goodnight in his "courtin clothes".

This brings to mind a couple of thoughts about Alabama. Huntsville, Alabama is said to have the most PHD's per capita of any city in the world. This is in large part because of the significant Redstone Arsenal and other governmental scientific efforts that surround the area. Furthermore, Alabama - has been the site of numerous developments that have helped mankind for decades. The first toothbrush, was actually invented in a little town called Arab, Alabama. Had it been developed anywhere else, it would have been named the teethbrush.

Still thinking of Alabama....(their state slogan is "Thank God For Mississippi", "otherwise we'd be on the bottom of everything)".....Tragedy has struck the state of Alabama in recent times. As most of you know the governor's Mansion caught fire and burned to the ground a month or so ago...fortunately, they were able to save the rest of the trailer park.

Sadly, this all comes at a time when Alabama was stuggling to overcome the effects of Hurricane Rita - which struck near Gulf Shores, Alabama causing over $20 million dollars in improvements.

Excuse me, but once again I have digressed. Our subject was proper gentlemanly attire for the summer season, and we were focused on starting at the top with proper head wear. We've covered comfort...and we've at least listed some of the do's and don'ts in terms of style. Why don't I just give it to you straight.....the must have head wear for stylish gentlemen and ladies this summer will be Panama Hats! Damn right, Panama Hats!

Before you rush out and try to buy a nice Panama - it would help to have an understanding of the history and significance of the Panama Hat. First off, for those of you who are geographically challenged, Panama, is a country in Central America. In fact, here's a you a little test - where is the Panama Canal located??? You got it....Panama. NOW let's make it a little tougher.... Where does the Panama Hat come from......_________. You got it...WRONG....the Panama hat actually comes from Ecuador. Yeah...that was a trick question.

So if the Panama hat actually comes from Ecuador - how come we call it a Panama hat? Well actually there are three primary reasons;

  1. First, like many other 19th and early 20th century South American goods, these hats were shipped first to the Isthmus of Panama before sailing for their destinations in Asia, the rest of the Americas and Europe. For some products, the name of their point of international sale rather than their place of domestic origin stuck, hence “Panama hats.

  2. Secondly, during the building of the Panama Canal, U.S. President, Theodore Roosevelt and other international dignitaries were photographed sporting these fine hats as they inspected the progress being made on creating the Panama Canal. This spread the Panama's reputation globally.

  3. Finally, "Panama Hat" just has a nice ring to it that Equadoriaquito Hat.

So there you have it...that's how these beautiful hats got their name.

Here's a picture or two of some of the many notables wearing Panama hats this year.....

Sean Connery

Bonnie Prince Charley

celebrities at the KY Derby

But before you rush out and buy just any old hat that looks like it might be a "Panama" to start your summer wardrobe, here's a few tips from the fashionista Old Uncle Mikey on getting a quality panama.....

The primary criteria in evaluating the quality of a Panama quality is by the density of the weave. A low quality weave would be "100 fibers per square inch", while a superfino or ultra fino weave might have up to "1400 fibers per square inch." According to a study done in 2007, there are less than 15 living craftsman in Ecuador who can create the super - ultrafino weaves. These babies may not be around long. (see picture at Texas buddy Big Ike Sporting a high dollar superfino Panama at the Kentucky Derby) As you can see, Ike is not from Alabama.

So here's my first fashion advice for summer.

  1. Run out and get yourselves the best Panama you can...while you can.

  2. Send me a picture of you, your significant other, your friends wearing a stylish Panama

  3. I'll post them here...on the prestigious "Let Go Journal"

  4. I'll send you an invite to my Panama Hat party on Labor Day 2009.

Of course, you know I'll be going in style and I'll be hoping to see all of you.

All the best,


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