Cowboy Hats for Men

Cowboy Hats for Men – Master the Look in 10 Simple Steps

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The Complete History of Cowboy Hats For Men

First, let’s look at how cowboy hats came to be such an integral part of the American West:

Humble Beginnings

Cowboy hats can trace their origin to the 1860s and cattle drives that moved herds from Texas to railways out West. Cowboys needed protection from the harsh elements while spending weeks outdoors.

Early cowboy hat styles included bowler hats and sombreros. These provided some shade and rain protection with their round crowns and small brims.

But cowboys needed even tougher headgear to endure long days in the saddle. Thus began the experimentation with materials and silhouettes that evolved into the iconic cowboy lid we know today.

John B. Stetson Changes the Game

Hatmaker John B. Stetson revolutionized cowboy headgear when he created the “Boss of the Plains” hat in 1865. This model featured:

  • A high, broad crown to better shield from sun and rain
  • A comprehensive, flat brim to keep sun off the neck and face
  • A rounded front projection to divert rain away from the eyes
  • A leather hat band with decorative stamping

This innovative design was a game changer for cowboys venturing West across dusty cattle trails. Stetson’s hat gained quick popularity for its practicality and durability.

Rise of an Iconic Style

Over the late 1800s, Stetson’s pioneering cowboy hat became synonymous with life in the saddle. Cowboys wore these hats constantly to protect themselves outside.

Foreman and ranchers donned the big hats to create an imposing, powerful image. As cattle ranching expanded, so did the ubiquity of high-crowned fedoras on the range.

Soon, the cowboy hat defined the daring, independent spirit of the West just as much as cowboys themselves. It grew into one of the most iconic symbols of America for people worldwide.

Still Popular Today

While cattle drives are less common today, the cowboy hat remains beloved in the West and beyond.

Modern cowboys keep the tradition alive on ranches and in rodeos. Many folks in rural areas favor cowboy hats for outdoor activities or for their heritage.

Urban individuals also embrace cowboy hats to connect with a sense of sturdy resilience. Pop culture also keeps the image alive through Western films and country music stars.

This uniquely American hat continues to evoke images of grit, adventure, and untamed landscapes.

Types of Cowboy Hats Worth Considering

Now that you know some cowboy hat history, let’s explore the main types and materials available:

Classic Felt Hat

Classic felt rancher cowboy hat

Check out this Classic felt rancher cowboy hat here.

The felt cowboy hat is the most traditional option. Felt is made from pressed wool fibers, which naturally repels water and insulates.

  • Expect a matching leather band around the crown.
  • Can be “shaped” by steaming/wetting to customize the curve of the brim and crown
  • Best for cooler weather while protecting from rain and snow
  • Look for neutral colors like tan, brown, gray, and black

Straw Cowboy Hats

Straw Cowboy hat from Resistol

Check out this Straw Cowboy hat from Resistol here.

A cowboy hat made from woven straw is lightweight and breathable. Straw types include:

  • Natural “bangora” straw – derived from Bangora wheat stalks
  • Bleached “palm leaf” straw – made from coconut palm leaves
  • Raffia – straw made from palm tree bark fibers

Straw construction works well in hot climates while still blocking UV rays. The open weave allows airflow so your head stays cooler.

Modern Cowboy Hats

Stetson modern cowboy hat from the Skyline series

Check out this Stetson modern cowboy hat from the Skyline series here.

Many modern cowboy hats use synthetic materials like polyester instead of natural fibers.

Benefits include:

  • Lighter weight than felt while offering durability
  • A more comprehensive range of potential colors and patterns
  • It is lower cost than an authentic felt cowboy hat

The synthetic hats mimic classic cowboy shapes and details like a tall crown and brim. But they open more options for custom looks.

Faux Felt, vegan-free cowboy hat

Check out this Faux Felt, vegan-free cowboy hat here.

Additional Styles

Canvas straw country cowboy hat

Check out this Canvas straw country cowboy hat here.

Beyond these main types, you can find cowboy hats in novelty materials like:

  • Canvas
  • Seagrass
  • Wool felt blends

Each material brings different properties like water resistance, breathability, and style. Shop around to discover new twists on traditional cowboy lids.

Smart Tips for Finding Your Perfect Cowboy Hat

You can’t just grab any cowboy hat and go. Keep these essential tips in mind while browsing options:

Consider Your Purpose

Your ideal cowboy hat depends on how you plan to wear it—seeking vintage flair for the ranch or rodeo? An authentic felt hat suits the lifestyle.

Are you going for a modern accessory look? Try a lightweight polyester version with edgy details. Seek maximum sun protection? Aim for a wide brim.

50% cotton, 50% polyester cowboy hat

Check out this 50% cotton, 50% polyester cowboy hat here.

Think through how to use the hat to pick practical, durable materials. Don’t just follow temporary trends – choose a hat to become your steady companion.

Mind the Climate

Felt cowboy hats for men suit cooler weather but can get stuffy in summer heat. Prioritize open weave straws or breathable synthetics if dealing with hot temps.

El Presidente from Stetson, The Perfect 100x Felt cowboy hat

Check out this El Presidente from Stetson, The Perfect 100x Felt cowboy hat here.

If you live in a region prone to rain, ensure your hat can repel a downpour. Felt sheds water well, while some straws risk becoming saturated.

Consider regional conditions as you shop for the proper ventilation and weather-resistance blend.

Obsess Over Fit

An ill-fitting cowboy hat looks goofy. Measure your head circumference to find your hat size. Target a snug fit that’s not too tight.

The hat should sit low on your brow without slipping down. You don’t want it flying away in the wind quickly.

Trying before buying is advised to assess fit and comfort. An experienced salesperson can help adjust sizing, or you can order a custom size.

Take time to get the fit right so your cowboy hat feels like it was made for you.

US SizeHat Size in cmHat Size in inches
XS536 5/8
S546 3/4
556 7/8
577 1/8
L587 1/4
597 3/8
XL607 1/2
617 5/8

Evaluate Key Features

Beyond appropriate, assess these elements when finding your perfect cowboy hat:

  • Crown height – taller adds imposing presence, shorter is casual
  • Brim width – wider equals more sun protection
  • Crease – shaped to your preference or classic cattleman style
  • Band – leather for authenticity or fabric for comfort
  • Color – traditional nature tones or make a statement

Finding the right blend ensures style, comfort, and functionality.

Caring for Your Cowboy Hat

Okay, you found your cowboy hat soulmate. Now, you need to care for it properly so the relationship endures.

Store With Care

Always store your cowboy hat with an intact crown and brim – never folded or crushed. Resting on the visor or crown can leave permanent dents or flat spots.

Ideally, use a hat stand specially shaped to support a cowboy hat. The crown can’t sag, and the brim stays level.

Use a stiff hat box or breathable carrier bag to prevent bending for travel. Wrap with tissue paper to absorb moisture and hold the shape. Handle it like the treasure it is.

Clean Gently

Frequent light cleaning preserves your hat instead of heavy washing. Use a soft brush or cloth to remove dust and surface dirt. Then wipe with a damp cloth if needed.

Spot clean felt or straw with gentle soap and water. Let air dry carefully on a shaped rack to prevent warping.

For deeper cleaning, visit a professional hat cleaner annually. Steam and expert reshaping revives the look.

Maintain Materials

Condition leather bands with leather cleaner to prevent cracks. The store felt or straw out of direct sun to prevent fading.

If materials look worn, visit a hatter for repairs or replacement bands. Don’t let minor issues progress into significant damage.

Reshape Wisely

If your hat gets crushed during travel, you can restore its shape. Lightly wet or steam the cap, then reshape the brim and crown. Let it air dry on a hatter’s block or stand.

Reshaping too often can damage materials, so use this method only when needed. Prevention is the best policy.

With some TLC, expect decades of loyal service from your cowboy hat!

Fascinating Facts About Cowboy Hats For Men

Beyond their bold style, cowboy hats have some intriguing quirks and history:

  • John B. Stetson pioneered the iconic style, but several hat makers, like Tom Mix Bailey, contributed to the origination.
  • “Ten-gallon hat” refers to the Spanish word galón for braided hat bands, not the actual size.
  • Creases in hat crowns helped collect rainfall for thirsty cowboys to drink on long cattle drives.
  • High crowns provided insulation during frigid nights on open prairies.
  • Cowboys would rub interior hat bands with beeswax or mutton to soften the leather against sunburnt foreheads.
  • Custom hat etiquette says you should never touch another person’s hat without permission as a sign of respect.
  • People often placed memorable “hat pins” into the interior hat band like tokens from loved ones.
  • “Getting the hat” was an honor for cowboys. Ranch owners would award customized hats to top-performing cowhands.
  • Former president Ronald Reagan was well known for his cowboy hat-wearing even outside Westerns he starred in.

The more you learn, the more fascinating the cowboy lid becomes!

10 Fundamentals for Wearing Cowboy Hats

Ready to sport cowboy hats for men with pride? Follow these tips to reinvent your look:

  • 1. Select a hat style suited for the climate and season. Felt for winter, straw for summer. Pick materials wisely.
  • 2. Dial in the perfect crown height and brim width for your facial structure. A tall crown and wide brim make a bold statement.
  • 3. Stick with natural, neutral color schemes to start. Rich tan, light brown, dark brown, black, and white are classics. Then, expand to fun colors.
  • 4. Incorporate authentic details like a leather hat band or braided trim. Consider decorative stitching or feathers for more flair.
  • 5. Shape and curve your brim. A cattleman crease (dented crown) boosts classic cowboy cred. Or keep it flat.
  • 6. Cock your brim low to shade your eyes. Tilting up on one side adds personality.
  • 7. Pair your cowboy hat with other Western gear. Checkered shirts, jeans, boots, and bolo ties complete the look.
  • 8. Learn cowboy hat etiquette. Never lay a hat brim down. Ask before touching another’s hat.
  • 9. Carefully transport your hat when not worn. Use a hat box or bag. Don’t just throw it in your car or suitcase!
  • 10. Wear your cowboy hat with confidence. This lid commands respect, so own it.

Now embrace your inner maverick! You can seamlessly work a cowboy hat into dressy or casual looks with the right moves.

Basic Cowboy Hat Etiquette

Cowboy hat etiquette dictated that males exclusively tipped their hats for women in the Old West.

Cowboy hat etiquette dictated that males exclusively tipped their hats for women in the Old West.

The following are considered basic cowboy hat etiquette:

  1. Removing Your Hat Indoors: This is a fundamental rule in cowboy hat etiquette and is widely recognized as a sign of respect.
  2. Tipping or Raising Your Hat: This is a familiar gesture of acknowledgment or greeting in cowboy hat etiquette.
  3. Handling Your Hat: Knowing how to hold your hat properly is considered basic etiquette to prevent damage.
  4. Avoiding Hat Stacking: This is a simple rule to prevent damage to hats and is considered basic etiquette.
  5. Choosing the Right Hat for the Occasion: This is a fundamental consideration in cowboy hat etiquette, ensuring you’re appropriately dressed.
  6. Proper Sizing: Wearing a hat that fits correctly is a basic rule to ensure comfort and a polished appearance.
  7. Caring for Your Hat: Basic maintenance and cleaning are crucial to keeping your hat in good condition.

These are foundational practices widely recognized and considered basic cowboy hat etiquette.

FAQ About Cowboy Hats For Men

  • Do I need to be an actual cowboy or ranch hand to wear one?

    Not at all! While cowboy hats for men originated as practical gear, they are ubiquitous. Anyone can wear one for style, comfort, or cultural heritage. Most wearers admire the look versus needing it for daily ranch work. Don’t be afraid to buy one just for fashion.

  • What are high-end cowboy hats for men made of?

    Authentic, high-end cowboy hats use premium materials like:
    Felt from rabbit, hare, or beaver fur
    Bangora or palm leaf straw
    Soft sheepskin or deerskin leather
    Silk lining
    Quality materials shape better and last longer. Stetson, Resistol, and other luxury brands use top-shelf materials.

  • Should I buy used cowboy hats for men online?

    Given fit complexities, trying on cowboy hats in person is generally better. Buying used online risks poor fit and potential hidden damage.
    But if you closely inspect photos, know precise sizes or the seller accepts returns, used hats could be a good value. Vintage ones have a unique character.

  • What’s the downside of synthetic cowboy hats for men?

    Synthetic cowboy hats are affordable and durable, but many need more authenticity. Synthetics may use lower-quality leather and liner materials as well. Stick to natural materials if pursuing traditional cowboy cred.

  • Can I pair a cowboy hat with a suit?

    You sure can! For a sharp, modern look, match a dressy straw cowboy hat in black or white with a fine suit in the city. Or go full-on cowboy with a boot, big buckle, and felt hat ensemble. Get creative mixing high-low elements.

  • What cowboy hats for men work best for cold weather?

    Felt cowboy hats are your best bet for insulation and warmth. Look for a low crown and wide brim to protect your ears. Felt repels snow and rain, unlike straw, which can become saturated. Fleece or flannel linings add extra coziness.

  • Should I get a custom-sized cowboy hat?

    Custom sizing ensures a precision fit but costs more. Stock sizes work for many as long as you carefully measure and try on options. Custom is best if you have a considerable head or struggle to find the right fit off the rack.

  • Can I reshape my straw cowboy hat at home?

    Reshaping straw cowboy hats is possible but risky without proper experience. The ideal method uses steam applied slowly and carefully to avoid damage. Unless you own a hat steamer, let the pros handle reshaping.

  • How tight should my cowboy hat fit?

    The hat should fit snugly without pinching. Opt for a tighter fit if the wind can rip it from your head. Just don’t go so fast you get headaches! It’s a delicate balance to get just right. Ask an experienced hatter for advice.


The cowboy hats for men remain an enduring symbol of rugged independence and life out West. But you don’t need to be a real cowboy to appreciate this stylish accessory.

With so many types, shapes, and styles, find a cowboy hat that fits your flair. Learn some care tips to maintain its good looks. Then, wear your hat with a swagger to instantly up your fashion game.

Before you know it, you’ll live the cowboy life wherever the trail takes you. So grab your hat, hop on your horse, and ride off into the sunset in style. Happy trails, partner!


Pashalis Laoutaris

Fashion Blogger

I am a professional writer, fashion blogger, and owner of the site As a salesperson for more than 20 years, I have experience of 10 years in the fashion industry. I consider myself a true fashionista. I am writing daily blog articles about fashion, tools and converters, and everything you need to know about the current fashion trends.

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