A traditional Ukrainian straw hat.
An ad for various styles of straw hats
A straw cone hat worn by a Japanese buddhist monk

A straw hat is a wide-brimmed hat woven out of straw or straw-like synthetic materials.[1] Straw hats are a type of sun hat designed to shade the head and face from direct sunlight, but are also used in fashion as a decorative element or a uniform.


Commonly used fibers are:[2]


There are several styles of straw hats, but all of them are woven using some form of plant fibre.[15][16] Many of these hats are formed in a similar way to felt hats; they are softened by steam or by submersion in hot water, and then formed by hand or over a hat block. Finer and more expensive straw hats have a tighter and more consistent weave. Since it takes much more time to weave a larger hat than a smaller one, larger hats are more expensive.[citation needed]


Straw hats have been worn in Africa and Asia since after the Middle Ages during the summer months, and have changed little between the medieval times and today. They are worn, mostly by men, by all classes. Many can be seen in the calendar miniatures of the Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry.

Lesotho license plate, featuring a mokorotlo

The mokorotlo, a local design of a straw hat, is the national symbol of the Basotho and Lesotho peoples, and of the nation of Lesotho. It is displayed on Lesotho license plates.

Betsey Metcalf Baker (née Betsey Metcalf; 1786–1867)[17] was a manufacturer of straw bonnets, entrepreneur, and social activist based in Providence, Rhode Island and Westwood, Massachusetts. At age twelve, she developed a technique for braiding straw, allowing her to emulate the styles of expensive straw bonnets and make them accessible to working-class women. Rather than patent her technique, Baker taught the women in her community how to make straw bonnets, enabling the development of a cottage industry in New England.[18]

Because of the Napoleonic Wars, the United States embargoed all trade with France and Great Britain for a time, creating a need for American-made hats to replace European millinery. The straw-weaving industry filled the gap, with over $500,000 ($9 million in today's money) worth of straw bonnets produced in Massachusetts alone in 1810.[19]

On May 5, 1809, Mary Dixon Kies received a patent for a new technique of weaving straw with silk and thread to make hats.[20][21] Some sources say she was the first woman to receive a US Patent,[22][23] however other sources cite Hannah Slater in 1793,[24][25][26] or Hazel Irwin, who received a patent for a cheese press in 1808,[27][24] as the first.

President Theodore Roosevelt posed for a series of photos at the Panama Canal construction site in 1906. He was portrayed as a strong, rugged leader dressed crisply in light-colored suits and stylish straw fedoras. This helped popularize the straw "Panama hat".[28]

Types of straw hats



Artwork produced during the Middle Ages shows, among the more fashionably dressed, possibly the most spectacular straw hats ever seen on men in the West, notably those worn in the Arnolfini Portrait of 1434 by Jan van Eyck (tall, stained black) and by Saint George in a painting by Pisanello of around the same date (left). In the middle of the 18th century, it was fashionable for rich ladies to dress as country girls with a low crowned and wide brimmed straw hat to complete the look.[29]

See also


  1. ^ Hatatorium: An Essential Guide for Hat Collectors ISBN 978-0-984-78590-2 p. 18
  2. ^ a b A Dictionary of Costume and Fashion:, Mary Brooks Picken, Courier Corporation, 24.07.2013
  3. ^ The Fairchild Encyclopedia of Menswear, Mary Lisa Gavenas, Fairchild Books, 2008, P. 327
  4. ^ Paglinastroh Retrieved 03.14.2016
  5. ^ Rush straw Retrieved 03-18-2016
  6. ^ Bulrush hat Retrieved 03-18-2016
  7. ^ Typha hat Retrieved 03-19-2016
  8. ^ Reed hat Retrieved 03-18-2016
  9. ^ Historical Common Names of Great Plains Plants Volume I: Historical Names , Elaine Nowick, Lulu.com, 01.10.2014, P. 355[self-published source]
  10. ^ Information for use in determining whether to continue designation of certain headwear of straw as articles eligible for duty-free treatment under the generalized system of preferences:, Jackie Worrell, United States International Trade Commission, 1982, P. 5
  11. ^ PP Straw Retrieved 03-16-2016
  12. ^ Hats and Headwear around the World: A Cultural Encyclopedia:, Beverly Chico, ABC-CLIO, 03.10.2013, P. 115, 259
  13. ^ Hatatorium: An Essential Guide for Hat Collectors, Brenda Grantland, P. 56
  14. ^ Chip straw Retrieved 03-16-2016
  15. ^ Kula, E. (30 June 1994). Our Economic World: A Study of the World's Natural Resources and Industries. Springer. p. 302. ISBN 978-0-412-57640-9.
  16. ^ "NATURAL PALM FIBRE HAT FROM FAILSWORTH HATS". woodsofshropshire.co.uk. Archived from the original on 3 June 2020.
  17. ^ "Betsey Metcalf". Kouroo Contexture. 13 January 2014. Retrieved 14 November 2021.
  18. ^ "Betsey Baker, straw hat maker". Hometown Weekly Newspapers. 8 August 2019. Retrieved 4 October 2021.
  19. ^ "May 5, 1809: Hats Off to First U.S. Woman Patent-Holder". Retrieved 7 September 2015.
  20. ^ "Mary Kies Became the First Woman to Receive a U.S. Patent". America's Story from America's Library. Library of Congress. Retrieved 3 May 2018.
  21. ^ "HER INVENTIVE GENIUS; How Lovely Woman Is on Record in the Patent Office. MRS. MARY KIES HEADS THE LIST IN 1809 A Colored Woman's Patent – A See-Saw Washing Machine – Inventions Useful and Amusing". The New York Times. 9 June 1895. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 15 March 2022.
  22. ^ Blakemore, Erin. "Meet Mary Kies, America's First Woman to Become a Patent Holder". Retrieved 11 August 2016.
  23. ^ "First Women Inventors | History of American Women". www.womenhistoryblog.com. 3 January 2016. Retrieved 10 August 2016.
  24. ^ a b Progress and Potential: A profile of women inventors on U.S. patents Archived 16 September 2021 at the Wayback Machine United States Patent and Trademark Office.
  25. ^ "Women Inventors | History Detectives | PBS". www.pbs.org. Retrieved 10 August 2016.
  26. ^ "10 Key Dates in Women's History: The Early Modern Period". Britannica Blog. Encyclopædia Britannica. 10 March 2011. Archived from the original on 19 October 2018. Retrieved 10 August 2016.
  27. ^ ""Not for Ornament": Patenting Activity by Nineteenth-Century Women Inventors", by B. Zorina Khan, Journal of Interdisciplinary History, xxxi:2 (Autumn, 2000), 159–195" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 13 October 2021. Retrieved 13 October 2021.
  28. ^ "President Theodore Roosevelt's Legendary Panama Canal Fashion | Ultrafino". Ultrafino. 29 September 2017. Retrieved 7 December 2017.
  29. ^ "The Hat Story". British Hat Guild. 2003. Archived from the original on 10 May 2012. Retrieved 14 March 2016.