The cowboy hat is a staple of the American West and has spread throughout American culture. You’ll see it on classic movie stars like John Wayne, chart-topping singers like Taylor Swift, and legendary historical figures like Buffalo Bill. Read on to learn more about this iconic hat and how it has developed from its inception to the modern day.
The history of cowboy hats
History attributes the creation of the cowboy hat to Philadelphia native John B. Stetson. In 1865, Stetson sported a new style of hat with a flat brim and a high, rounded crown that he dubbed the “Boss of the Plains” hat. This durable headpiece protected the working cattleman’s head, neck, and shoulders from the sun while adding a new element of style to the American West.
Stetson’s invention reigned for twenty years before new features appeared and altered his design of the hat. As time passed, the hat became shaped by new materials with additional decorations. Changes included a pinched or creased crown for better control and a rolled or curved brim that stayed out of the way of the cowboy’s lasso.
Cowboy hat styles
In the early days of cowboy hats, a distinct crease or brim shape could be enough for others to figure out where you lived or worked. Now, thousands of combinations exist, and manufacturers can tailor cowboy hats to your preference.
It’s essential to clearly understand the parts that make up the cowboy hat to know what customizations are possible. These parts include:
Crown: the upper part of the hat that covers the head.
Crease: a dent or pinch in the crown used for control or style.
Material: what the hat is made out of.
Brim: the edge of the hat that protrudes from the hat’s front, back, and sides.
Decorations: additions to a cowboy hat used to increase its personalization and style.
Let’s look at how each of these parts influences the overall style of a cowboy hat.
A cowboy hat’s crown is usually matched with the crease type and brim to form the style. Generally, cowboy hats take on a basic rounded, oval, or squared shape.
A rounded crown resembles a circular hat, often associated with a bowler or derby hat. Oval crowns are similar to rounded crowns but elongated slightly in the front and back. Squared crowns are not entirely square, but the front, back, and sides are distinct.
The famous “Boss of the Plains” cowboy hat, currently called an “open crown,” does not have a crease. Most cowboy hats have some sort of crease or pinch in the crown.
The most traditional style is a cattleman’s crease, a deep front-to-back crease through the middle of the crown. Cowboy hats with a cattleman’s crease are easily recognizable as they are the most popular shape of a cowboy hat.
A pinch front is a style that resembles a V from above. The crease begins at a point at the front of the hat and opens wider as it moves back. You can grip pinch-front cowboy hats with two or three fingers for easy removal.
As cowboy hats have modernized, the number of materials that make them up has broadened. Now you can find disco ball cowboy hats made of nylon and glass or plastic cowboy hats used for Halloween costumes.
Traditionally, straw and felt were the two most common materials used to make cowboy hats. Today, manufacturers use wool for felt hats. Felt hats are more durable than straw hats, protecting the wearer from the elements. Felt also gives the hat a more formal look and provides warmth in colder climates.
Straw hats are also durable, but they may lose their shape if you wear them in the rain or a wet environment. Straw cowboy hats are mainly for keeping the head and face out of the sun or as fashionable accessories.
The brim of a cowboy hat is its most notable feature. Most cowboy hats have a wide brim to protect their wearers’ heads from the sun, rain, snow, and other elements. The brim of a cowboy hat can be shaped and styled in multiple ways, including:
– Flat: a flat brim is not curled or rolled in any way on the sides.
– Low: a low-brim hat bends downwards in the front.
– Taco: these brims curl drastically upwards at the sides, resembling a taco.
– Low rodeo: in this case, the brim is rolled upwards slightly on the sides.
– Tracker: this brim is not as wide as most cowboy hats, and only one side rolls up slightly, giving an askew look.
– Rolled: instead of the sides curving straight up, these brims are rolled inwards toward the crown.
Decorations appearing on cowboy hats is not new, although the decorations available are becoming more extravagant. The most popular cowboy hat decoration is a hat band, which belts around the crown to add some flare.
Some other types of decorations that you may see added to cowboy hats are:
– Stampede strings
– Novelty coins
Combining different types of brims, crowns, creases, materials, and decorations can result in hundreds of different types of cowboy hats. Understanding which elements make up a cowboy hat and how they go together will give you ideas for your perfect hat. Whether you want to purchase a cowboy hat, customize one that perfectly suits you, or for any other needs, you can find it here on Alibaba.