Neu Perspectives

Hats Off to the Cowboy Hat

Young cowboy swinging rope and riding horse.

Six guidelines for wearing this iconic lid, which beats a ballcap any day.

Young cowboy swinging rope and riding horse.

Oh, the beauty of a cowboy hat.

Whether it has traveled across the wild West or lives in a box—only to come out on the most special of occasions—the cowboy hat is something to be admired, treasured and worn with pride.

It’s one of the best kept beauty secrets there is. It helps prevent wrinkles, keeps hair color from fading, and blocks harsh elements (such as cold winds and intense sunshine).

Plus, it looks great in photos. The cowboy hat trumps a ballcap 10 to 1, every time.

I know of some people who hesitate to sport the timeless classic. Perhaps they don’t feel cowboy enough, or end up being a little self-conscious when they put it on their heads. I don’t think anyone ought to ever be bashful about wearing a hat. I think more people should! Here are six guidelines that, when respected and followed, can make even the greenest of city slickers fit in with the punchiest cowhands.

1. Mind the Season. Wear a straw hat in the warmer months and a felt in the cooler months. This guideline has a little bit of room for creativity. It’s created to maximize comfort, but I’ve seen many folks sport a felt when it’s warm, and substitute a palm leaf hat for either season. Some are very strict to the Memorial Day–Labor Day structure (felt hat from Labor Day to Memorial Day, and a straw from Memorial Day to Labor Day). Living in Texas (where it’s 90 degrees in October some years) I feel that’s a ridiculous rule and that the outside elements and temperature should dictate which hat you wear, rather than the dates on the calendar.

170428 tongue river 101

2. Handle with Care. Nothing makes a cowboy cringe more than seeing a well-shaped hat mistreated. Love it. Nurture it. Care for it. It took a lot of time, steam and creativity to get the crease and brim just right, and when you set it down flat on a table, or let it get rumpled in the back seat of your pickup, it’s just plain unacceptable. When you remove your hat, do so with caution. Don’t let the brim touch anything while it’s off of your head, whether you hang your hat or set it down. Store in a cool, dry place without pressure on the crown or the brim. This is imperative for a hat to keep longevity and integrity in the body and the shape.

3. Hands Off. I feel that this should go without saying, but don’t ever mess with someone else’s hat. It’s not a free puppy. Don’t maul it, pet it or feel the need to pick it up and move it. It’s a highly prized and particular defining piece of our outfits and we kindly ask that you give it the space and respect that we give your possessions. If you want a closer look, kindly ask.

4. Be Selective. Invest in something that fits and looks good. For some (ahem… myself!) that may mean a custom made, pure beaver felt hat. It’s an expensive habit. For those who aren’t quite as particular, it is important to make sure that the brim size and crown height is complimentary and comfortable for your particular head and face. If the hat fits right, you can gallop down the trail and never worry about it blowing off of your head, no stampede string necessary. That being said…

4 thoughts on “Hats Off to the Cowboy Hat”

  1. Hello I just were my cowboy hat for simply good looks and also to protect against the elements not for riding horses is this ok

  2. I’m not a rancher, farmer, or cowboy and don’t claim to be. However, I have several hats and would wear them more often if there wasn’t a stigma attached to wearing one. Not sure why non-ball players can wear a baseball cap without others thinking they are playing “dress up” or questioning why the person is wearing a baseball cap. For some reason, the same cannot be said when wearing a cowboy hat in a non-traditional state where wearing one is not socially acceptable. Unfortunate, but that’s the reality.

  3. I was told by an old time rancher born about 1923 and ranched his whole life that you never hired a cowboy that wore a straw hat because he spent too much time chasing it when it blew off


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