Several years ago I was traveling through Texas and was excited to be a part of the culture by wearing my cowboy hat. The long drive time to getting there meant I was listening to XM radio a lot. My favorite station is “On the Highway,” which is filled with singers who always wear their cowboy hats, such as Tim McGraw and Kenney Chesney. By the time we park the RV, I’m ready to hit the town wearing my cowboy hat.
I love wearing my hat as a fashion accessory. It is immediately recognized as the cowboy hat without question. As the old cowboy saying goes, “It’s the last thing you take off and the first thing you notice.” Salma Hayek and Penelope Cruz wore them in the 2006 western, “Bandidas.” Sharon Stone wore it in “The Quick and the Dead,” as well as Cate Blanchett, too, in the 2003 movie “The Missing.”
Stetson is the most recognized name for cowboy hats. He made the first hat in 1865, but it was the Mexican and Texan ranchers who developed the wide brims in 1800. Cowboy hats are very functional. As a woman in her early 50’s, I am fighting brown spots and wrinkles and the wide brim protects my face from harsh sun rays that can cause skin cancer. They are also wonderful for covering my head on bad hair days.
Because the accessory will be the center of attention, be sure it is of good quality. Cowboy hats look great with jeans, dresses, or shorts. Be careful to not over accessorize with too much jewelry or big belt buckles, or anything that competes much with the hat. It’s distracting and does not look good.
There are many styles of cowboy hats that are distinguished by the crown and creases. All are wide brimmed but shaped differently. The cost significantly varies, too. Women tend to gravitate toward the “Shady Brady” because the pinch front crease accentuates a smaller jaw line and makes the face look slimmer.
Don’t make the mistake of buying a hat that doesn’t fit like I did once. I was in Tennessee and determined to buy a hat. I fell in love with a black Stetson hat. I knew it would go with everything because of the color, but it was too small. It sat way too far up on my head looking like an ill fitted topper. I didn’t feel confident wearing it and eventually donated it.
How to wear cowboy hats
Have a friend help you measure your head with a soft measuring tape. Measure it with the tape snug but not too tight. Your hat should fit one to two fingers above the eyebrows and the same above the ears. Don’t allow it to sink down too far and cover your eyebrows. Wear your hat in front of your head, not pushed back like a little girl would wear a bonnet. When you turn your head quickly, your hat moves with the swoosh and doesn’t slip.
Pick a color that is flattering to your skin tone. Light colors reflect the heat the best, while dark colors retain the heat. Dark colors are more formal and wonderful to wear for special celebrations. Straw hats are good for the summer and felt hats work best for the winter.
The price of cowboy hats greatly varies. Straw hats are the most affordable. There is also fur felt and wool felt. Rabbit and beaver fur mixed with felt will last five to 10 times longer than wool felt. Fur felt is virtually waterproof.
So now you know you don’t have to be going to a rodeo or having fun in Texas to don your cowboy hat. The bride can wear it on her wedding day. The sunbather can wear it by the pool, too. Next time I pass you on the street with your cowboy hat, I’ll tip mine and say, “Howdy, love your cowboy hat, buddy!”