The Style and Use of Cowboy Hats

The Cowboy hat, synonymous with the North American Cowboy was designed in 1865 by John B. Stetson. Drawing on influences from 19th century Mexican culture the types and designs of cowboy hats have morphed from a felt hat providing excellent sun protection and durability to a fashion statement more commonly seen today. Although today’s style of Cowboy hat does not identically match the style Mr. Stetson originally manufactured (Known as the “Boss of the Plains”), the modern cowboy hat remains basically unchanged in construction and design.

Cowboy hats are as much a symbol of the United States as the American flag or the Statue of Liberty. The history of the Old West and the men who figured so prominently in its success have shaped the U.S. into the country it is today. The sight of a cowboy hat instantly brings images to mind hard work, independence, and honor.

The Cowboy Hat Design

The Original Cowboy hat design had a tall rounded crown and wide flat brim, typically made of felt, straw or even sporadically leather. The inside of the hat is fitted with a simple sweat band to help stabilize the hat while being worn. The Customization of the hat begins at the creasing of the crown and the rolling of the Brim; this gives the Modern Cowboy hat a differentiation of style. At times, a decorative hat band is added to the hat to help accent its features. Cowboy hats can be manufactured in any color, but most traditional cowboy hats feature shades of Beige, Brown or Black.

How to Determine the Style

Typically, the crease in a Cowboy hat gives the hat an individual character and helps to identify the wearer to their particular “subculture”. Functionally, the crease helps to don or remove the hat by grabbing the hat by the crown, rather than the brim. To the average hat wearer, these changes may not seem like a lot, but each style carries its own individual meaning and functionality that helped make the Cowboy hat into what it is today.

Uses for Cowboy Hats

People from any culture that spent a lot of time on horseback eventually seek out headgear. Hats help to keep the heat of the sun off the head, hold back the rain, and hold in body heat on chilly days. Cowboy hats followed the style of Mexican sombreros, so they came with wide brims to provide ample sun protection.

The uses of a good cowboy hat do not end at temperature control. The hat proved endlessly useful for busy cowboys when they were away from home. The hat enabled the owner to fan a fire, cover their face during a quick catnap, and tote water for themselves or a thirsty horse. Avoid using a fine modern cowboy hat as a temporary water dish today.

Other uses for a cowboy hat were more social than utilitarian. A hat can help to signal other cowboys from a distance. A noticeable tip of a hat was a simple and understated way to show respect to a lady. The removal of the hat to place over the heart has for many people been a way to profound respect.  

Reasons for Hat Shapes

The shape of the cowboy hat slowly changed through the years. The adjustments were not aesthetic changes for a new generation. Every change that took place helped to meet the needs of the consumer. Many cowboys wet and reshaped their hats to make them more functional for their use. Hat makers noticed the trend.

The hatters began matching the design of their new hats to mimic the reshaped versions. A dent in the top enabled the wearer to take the hat on and off without touching the brim. An upward curve of the brim still protected the wearer from the sun but kept the hat out of the way when they needed to throw a rope.

Preferences for Certain Colors

Cowboy hats originally came in the shades of the animal skin used to make them. Movies and other forms of media helped to shape opinions over the correct color to wear. In many movies and books, the audience knew that the hero would ride in wearing a white hat and take on the bad guy in the black hat.

Modern hat wearers have less interest in such symbolism. Cowboy hats exist in almost every color imaginable. Some wearers may prefer the traditional shades of tan, white, and black. Other people choose hats to match their boots or their clothing and may select flashier colors and designs.

Quality is the most important factor for everyone to keep in mind when they shop for a cowboy hat today. The investment in a well-made hat is one that will give the wearer something that only improves with age. Whether you are a cowboy by trade or by heart, please contact aungcrown, we have the perfect style for you.