While most people probably focus on colorful bikinis or bold resort wear when they’re planning looks for a spring or summer vacation, there’s one accessory that should never be forgotten: a straw hat. Not only are straw hats the easiest way to add texture, volume, and detail to a summer look, but they’re also practical. Sun protection is incredibly important. After all, getting a sunburn isn’t just an aesthetic or momentarily painful experience—it also is directly linked to multiple forms of skin cancer, as the Skin Cancer Foundation explains. While reapplying sunscreen is important, wearing a straw hat is a great way to give your skin an extra layer of protection, all while looking cute, too.
Meet the Expert
If you’re trying to become a hat person or simply looking for some extra sun protection as the weather warms up, here are the best straw hats that could be perfect for your wardrobe, no matter what your style looks like.
Best Overall: Madewell Packable Braided Straw Hat
This straw hat protects from the sun without being too bold or oversized, but the best part of it is that it’s easily packable—a game-changer when you’re not interested in wearing a straw hat during your flight or stuffing it into an overhead compartment.
Colors: Warm Nutmeg, Antique Cream, Almost Black, Natural Multi | Size Range: S/M-M/L
Best Budget: Lanzom Wide Brim Straw Panama Hat
No matter how tight you are on suitcase space or what color you’re searching for, this adjustable, packable Panama hat is the perfect addition to any trip. It’s small enough to be comfortable and appropriate for any setting, while still providing important sun coverage. Oh, and it’s less than $30.
Circumference: 22.5 inches | Brim Width: 2.9 inches | Colors: Khaki, Beige, Brown, Gray, White, Natural, Blue, Green, Light Blue, Red, Pink, Purple, Teal, White, Yellow +more
Best Oversized: San Diego Hat Company Ultrabraid XL Brim Sun Hat
This oversized sun hat comes in every color you could ever want (in addition to the classic straw colors, of course) and provides maximum sun coverage. The reviews are pretty positive, too, so you know it’s a good purchase.
Circumference: 22.25 inches | Brim Width: 8 inches | Colors: White, Brown, Taupe, Khaki, Blue, Red, Pink, Light Pink, Yellow, Black
Best for the Beach: Lack of Color The Vienna Beige Straw Boater Hat
The best part of this hat is that it accounts for the fact that not everyone has the same size head. Available in both small and medium, this hat ensures that you can find the perfect fit. The chin strap also means it’s perfect for days on the beach or boat. After all, there’s nothing worse than a hat flying off your head on a windy day, never to be seen again.
Circumference: 22 inches (size small) | Brim Width: 3.75 inches (size small) | Crown Height: 4 inches | Colors: Beige
Best Packable: Free People Arizona Packable Wide Brim Hat
Looking for an extra-wide brimmed hat that also is great for packing easily? This packable Arizona hat from Free People is a winner. Plus, it has a chin strap and is available in four different colors.
Colors: Mixed Coffee, Coffee, Mixed Green, White, Toast
Best Cowboy-Style: Free People Straw Cowboy Hat With Beaded Strap
Not all cowboy hats are breathable enough for the beach or a hot summer day, but this straw cowboy hat ticks all the boxes. Plus, the colorful beaded strap is a fun extra detail that makes it just a little more fun than your average cowboy hat.
Best Designer: Eugenia Kim Mirabel Hat
You can tell by the shape and design of this hat that it’s not your average straw hat—and that fact is reflected in the price, too. The Italian-made hat features details like a grosgrain band with a black-tie accent and an internal drawstring detail, perfect for adjusting based on your hairstyle and head size.
Brim Width: 5.5 inches | Colors: Natural
Best Sustainable: Cuyana Wide Brim Panama Summer Hat
This gorgeous hat comes in four different sizes (and gives clear directions on how to figure out your hat size, if you’re not quite sure), six colors, and features an adjustable inner band so you can easily find your most comfortable fit. It is also made from toquilla straw, which is ”a renewable resource made from young toquilla palm fronds that are harvested without harming the main tree,” the brand explains.
Crown Height: 4.25 inches | Brim Width: 4 inches | Colors: Pebble, Natural, Chocolate, Black, Honey
Best Adjustable: Simplicity UPF 50+ Wide Brim Roll Up Sun Hat
The most versatile type of adjustable straw hat is always going to be a visor. Not only does this allow you to adjust based on your head size, but it also allows you to wear multiple different types of hairstyles and lean back in your beach chair or lounge chair comfortably.
Circumference: 22-23.2 inches | Colors: Natural, Beige, Brown, Black, Striped, Blue +more
Best Boater: ASOS Design Natural Straw Easy Boater
It doesn’t get more classic than this boater hat from ASOS. Not only is it affordable, but one buyer noted that it feels of good quality and wasn’t flimsy.
Circumference: 23 inches | Colors: Natural
Best Handmade: Leopareo Handmade Straw Checkered Bucket Hat
Not all straw hats are created equal, and this handmade checkered option from Etsy is proof of that. Bucket hats are still pretty darn trendy, so be sure to pick up one of these this summer if you want to stand out in a crowd while also playing into a popular accessories trend.
Colors: Pink/Red, Orange/Pink, Green/Green | Diameter: 10.5 inches
Best Classic: J.Crew Wide-Brim Packable Straw Hat
Available in three sizes, this classic straw hat from J.Crew is a best-seller for a reason. Not only is it packable (making it vacation-ready), but the wide brim will help protect your face from the scorching summer sun.
Colors: Straw | Size Range: S/M, M/L, L/XL
Best Multicolored: Nikki Beach Fleur Embroidered Straw Visor
It doesn’t get more charming than this hand-embroidered straw visor (complete with an adjustable inner band). The green and white flower design is still neutral enough to be worn with virtually any summer outfit.
Colors: Natural/White, Black/White
What to Look for When Buying a Straw Hat
When shopping for a straw hat, one of the biggest things to consider is where you’re going to be wearing the hat. If you’re going to be wearing it as much at home as you are on a far-off beach vacation, then you might be OK with purchasing a non-packable straw hat with a dramatic brim. Alternatively, if you are only going to wear it on that beach vacation, you’ll want to make sure your hat is packable or rollable (unless you’re cool with wearing it onto the plane).
As Alexander explains, “I always look for straw hats that you can fold up and they still hold their shape after. You want something that you can take to the beach that won’t get ruined.”
Alexander also shares that black straw hats are a great option for a hat that can easily go from the beach to day-to-day life, as “a straw hat that is versatile is going to give you more ways to wear it,” she explains.
“I’d wear a black straw hat with a black blazer or black button-up,” Alexander says. “I love the hair being down and undone under the hat to make it look effortless and still chic.
What are straw hats made out of?
If you’re talking about a traditional Panama hat, there are more specific requirements for what exactly a straw hat is made of. As Hats in the Belfry explains, “It is made from the leaves of Carludovica palmata, which someone once said is not quite a palm tree. It has been woven in a very specific and unique style since the seventeenth century in Ecuador, and may not be made any different, or woven anywhere else if it is to be properly called a Panama straw hat.”
There are straw hats made from many different materials nowadays, though, including raffia, toquilla straw, woven straw, paper straw, and more.
How do you reshape a straw hat?
While all might seem lost when you’ve misshapen your straw hat, there is a pretty easy way to return your favorite straw hat to tip-top shape. All you need is a steamer, a little time, and some patience, and you’ll be good to go. The best way to master the method would be to follow a YouTube tutorial on the process, like this one from Conner Hats.
Why Trust Byrdie
Olivia Muenter is a fashion commerce contributor for Byrdie, and she has been published in Refinery29, Bustle, Fashionista, Glamour, and Woman’s Day, among others. Her search for this piece covered retailers of all types. For criteria, she evaluated customer reviews, design, versatility, and material.
Gallagher RP, Lee TK, Bajdik CD, Borugian M. Ultraviolet radiation. Chronic Dis Can. 2010;29 Suppl 1:51-68.