People tend to think of cowboy hats one way, but really, there are many different styles of cowboy hats. We think of cowboy hats as having a curved brim and indented crown. Though that is the traditional Western style, the first cowboy hats did not look like that. The “Stetson,” as it was called, was flat-brimmed and round-topped. It’s thought that the cowboy hat style we know and love today, with the dent and rolled brim, arose from the cowboy having to take his hat off every time he entered a building or passed a woman on the street. Every time he grabbed the top of his hat to remove it, the dents became evident over time. Check out our blog "Brief History of the Cowboy Hat" to learn more.
Today, the Stetson cowboy hat has evolved even more. Back in the 1860s, when the traditional cowboy hat came to be, only men typically wore cowboy hats, but today, men, women, children, and people all over the world wear them, whether for fashion or function. Additionally, cowboy hats today aren’t the one-size-fits-all, plain, brown headwear you picture a Wild West cowboy wearing. While you, of course, can still find them (at Willow Lane Hat Co.!), just as popular for men and women are embellished cowboy hats, decorated with things like rhinestones, feathers, gemstones, and unique prints.
If you’re not sure which hat is best for you, you’re in the right place. We’re going to go through all the different kinds of cowboy hats and give you all the information you need to find a hat you love. Whether you need a style staple for your night on the town or you need to shield your eyes from the rays while working out in the sun, we’ve got you (and your head) covered.
Here are 5 common styles of cowboy hats:
Traditional Western Cowboy Hats
When you picture a cowboy hat, this is probably what you imagine! This handsome hat has the traditional curved, oval-shape brim and indented crown, perfect for removing and tipping your hat in the presence of a lady. These classic style staples are still worn all over the South and Southwest American states by men and women. Though this hat evolved; to shield the wearer from the weather, it can and is worn everywhere, day and night, from a rodeo or ranch to a nightclub or grocery store.
Hat: Calgary Rodeo from Atwood Hats
Embellished Western Cowboy Hats
You might be surprised to learn that adding embellishment to men’s cowboy hats is not a modern innovation. Men started embellishing their cowboy hats shortly after they were invented! It was a way of representing what ranch or region you came from, telling your hat apart from your brother’s, or just expressing your individual style. Today, you can find cowboy hats with a wide variety of embellishments, such as different crowns, colors, varying materials, and brim styles. Women’s cowboy hats also frequently feature embellishments. A lot of the time, embellishments like gemstones, braids, and leather straps are added around the band.
Hat: Yellow Flower from Stampede
Outdoor Cowboy Hats
You might be thinking: aren’t all cowboy hats meant for the outdoors? You’re right, but there are cowboy hats made especially for your outdoor adventures. These are crushable, waterproof, and down-right rugged hats that won’t fade in the sun, get soggy with water or be ruined if they take a beating. The hat you see in the picture below, for example, is made of crushable water resistant wool. Other outdoor cowboy hats are made of wax cloth or fur, ideal for staying warm on chilly nights.
Hat: Gallatin from Stetson Hats
Panama Cowboy Hats
The Panama hat is a type of lightweight hat made of panama straw. They are light-colored, lightweight, and breathable, perfect for hot days at the beach. Though the Panama hat originated in Ecuador, it's joined the cowboy hat family of hats with a rounded brim and dented crown ideal for shading the head from the heat. Though typically worn by men, Panama hats can also be worn by women and children.
Hat: Silver City from Bullhide Hats
Leather Cowboy Hats
A fine, top grain leather cowboy hat is an investment that will last you for years. Not only are they good looking, but they also are tough and built to last. However, there’s one caveat to leather cowboy hats, and it’s that they aren’t waterproof. When water soaks into untreated leather, it can cause the leather to change shape and even rot. However, there are ways to waterproof leather.
Hat: Roxbury from Stetson
Rancher & Flat Brim Hats
Rancher, flat brim, or stiff brim hats are distinguished from traditional cowboy hats by their flat and more rounded brim. Some rancher hats, like the one you see above, have a unique, pointed indent on the crown. Rancher hats typically have a fedora crown, known for its creased crown that is “pinched” towards the front.
Hat: The Savana
The Cordobes, or Cordovan hat, originated in the city of Córdoba, Spain, and is traditionally worn in a large part of Andalusia. The Spanish phrase sombrero cordobés simply means “wide-brimmed hat.” It is similar to the traditional cowboy hat, but it is differentiated by its stiff, circular brim and crown. Traditionally, the Cordobes is black, but they can be found in many different colors.
Hat: Palm Springs
We hope this guide led you to find the style that suits you the best. Whichever hat you choose, you’re sure to look stylish, all while keeping that pesky sun out of your eyes. Browse our full collection of cowboy hats to find the perfect hat for you.