The cowboy hat is a must-have piece of equipment for cattle ranchers to protect themselves from sun, wind, rain, and dust.
Nowadays, thanks to classic westerns dominating our cinema screens for much of the entire twentieth century, the cowboy hat has become an iconic piece of headwear, earning a place in fashion history books and pop culture worldwide.
Every type of cowboy hat has its own distinctive crease pattern and brim shape. But a cowboy hat is more than simply a fashion statement; it can tell a lot about the person wearing it.
Whether it’s some essential gear worn to battle the elements or simply a fashion piece, read on as we explore ten classic cowboy hats that are here to stay!
Table of Contents
King Stetson: A Beginning of the Cowboy Hats
Boss Of The Plains
After the American Civil War, John Batterson Stetson created the first iconic cowboy hat and called it “the Boss of the Plains.”
With its wide brim, this cowboy hat provided excellent sun protection for the wearer, but its ability to resist water set it apart from all the rest.
It didn’t take long for cowboys to figure out other uses for their Stetson. While it kept your head dry and protected you from the sun, it was also useful as a water container. Not only was this handy for a thirsty cowboy, but for his thirsty horse as well. Cowboys and their trusted steeds often drank water from a Stetson when necessary.
The popularity of Stetsons grew rapidly, and it wasn’t long before they began to replace the gentleman’s bowler hat across society. The Stetson company seemed unstoppable as it became one of the biggest producers of cowboy hats on a global scale.
The Best-Known American Types of Cowboy Hats
The Cattleman hat is the most traditional and timeless cowboy hat style. It has a high crown, a wide brim, a central crease, and two creases on the sides.
This hat’s design is famous for being named “the cattleman’s crease hat.” The larger crown and creases made it possible to draw the hat down tighter around your head to make it more secure.
A pinched-front cowboy hat has a characteristic teardrop or diamond-shaped crown with a pinch front that allows it to be taken off quickly.
The brim of the Pinch Front Crease cowboy hat is normally worn down and is typically made of straw or felt.
This cowboy hat style is popular among men and women who prefer a more modern western look.
Montana-style hats are similar to the Cattleman, but with a few differences. The creases on the sides are smaller and less apparent on a Montana-style when compared to the Cattleman.
In the United States, this hat is known as the “American Cowboy Hat”, even though it has deep roots in Montana.
Telescope or Gambler
The shape of the “Gambler” came from the Mexican Cowboys. The hat is made of fur or wool felt, has a flat brim, and is shorter than other cowboy hats. The top of the crown is fully rounded, with a slight circular indentation in the center.
In the past, this hat was a popular accessory among Mexico’s wealthy landowner class.
The Open Crown Crease
The name “Open Crown Crease” perfectly describes this hat’s unique design, as the crown is totally rounded and free of creases.
The hat’s brim is either a traditional sombrero with a small turn-up at the brim or a Cattleman style with turn-down sides.
Cowboy Hats Around the World
Mexican Sombrero: A True Cowboy Hat
A cowboy hat made in Mexico is the most traditional hat you can get. A sombrero is simply a straw hat nowadays, but its style inspired the iconic cowboy image. Long before there were cowboys, Mexicans wore broad-brimmed hats.
Most likely, the first cowboys were Mexicans. When Anglo cattle herders came to the American Southwest, they learned how to do their craft from Mexicans and adopted their workwear, including the sombrero, the forefather of the cowboy hat.
Akubra Hats: The Australian-Made Cowboy Hats
The Akubra Cattleman hat is made entirely of felt from a rabbit undercoat, making it waterproof and durable. It has a wide brim with a trimmed edge. Additionally, the hat’s head has air holes for more comfort.
Much like the legendary American hat brand Stetson, an Akubra is quintessentially Australian.
Akubra has been making high-quality, hand-made cowboy hats that are a part of Australia’s culture for more than a century.
Gaucho Style: Argentine Horseman’s Hat
Gaucho-style hats have a flat crown and a wide, flat brim and are made of wool or fur felt. This style of hat can also be called a gambler or bolero hat.
The gaucho hat is the most famous hat worn by the nomadic horsemen and cowhands of the Argentine and Uruguayan Pampas and was popular through the mid-18th to mid-19th centuries.
They are still worn mainly as a symbol of folk culture, just like cowboy hats from the American Wild West.
Chupalla: Traditional Chilean Hat
Chupalla hats are made by people in Central Chile’s rural areas. This traditional Chilean hat looks much like the “Gambler” hat worn in the United States and Mexico.
The top of the crown is entirely round and flat, with a flat brim. Unlike the Gambler, the Chilean Chupalla hat is made of straw.
The Chupalla hat, like other traditional hats around the world, is deeply ingrained in the region’s culture and history. The hat is worn at rodeos and is used as part of the traditional clothing when performing the cueca, a Chilean folk dance.
The history of cowboy hats may be found worldwide, particularly in places where farmers and cattlemen require high-quality clothing to take care of business.
Differences in creases, materials they are made from, and the type of crown and brim of a cowboy hat tell us a lot about the history of a given region and the people who live there.
These timeless and fashionable hats have been around for nearly 150 years and show no signs of going out of style anytime soon.