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The History of the Cowboy Hat

Cowboy Hat

The development of the headwear known as the cowboy hat did not occur in the United States until the latter part of the Wild West era. Despite this, the hat remains the most recognized and beloved symbol of the west. Anyone who plans to own and wear a cowboy hat should understand its beginnings and how it became the popular fashion statement it is today. 

Designed on the East Coast

The designer of the original cowboy hat was not a western man. John B. Stetson was born and raised in New Jersey. The hat design came to him while he was in Colorado mining for gold. The hat was useful for his own needs, but he realized its true value after a passerby purchased it from him. Once Stetson returned to New Jersey, he borrowed money from his sister to open his factory.

Stetson designed the cowboy hat with the purpose of being as functional as it was attractive. His original design was named the Boss of the Plains. The design was lightweight, waterproof, and wide-brimmed to protect the wearer from the sun. Made from quality felt, it was also durable, fast-drying, and comfortable. 

Perfected by Its Loyal Wearers

The Boss of the Plains was not the exact shape that most people imagine as a cowboy hat. The original style had a wide brim and a cylindrical crown. The shape of the hat evolved over time based on how cowboys were custom shaping their own chapeaus. Wetting the felt enabled the owner to mold the headwear to their preference, and the shape remained once the hat was dry. 

Many men would curl the sides of the brim so it would not be hit by a swinging rope. The brim front and rear remained flat to block the sun from the eyes and neck of the cowboy. The front of the crown was often pinched together so it was easier to put on and remove. Manufacturers made note of the adaptions and incorporated them into their designs. 

Recognized by the Texas Legislature

In 2015, the Texas legislature declared the cowboy hat as their state hat during its 84th legislative session. The decision was based on the popularity of the hat today, as well as the association between the cowboy culture of Texas and the iconic hat. 

Associated With Myths and Superstitions

Over the years, people have invented many myths and superstitions regarding cowboy hats. For example, the owner should never place the hat on a bed because this is said to bring bad luck. Some rodeo riders still avoid this habit today out of the fear that the action will cause them to lose their next competition.

The hat should also not sit with the open side pointing down. When the opening is up, it is believed that the owner can catch good luck. The luck may run out of the hat if the opening is facing down. Turning the hat upside down is acceptable when the hat is worn, however, because the luck falls onto the head of the wearer. 

These are just a couple of the interesting myths that surround the cowboy hat, which has become an iconic symbol recognized around the world.

Many people who choose this type of headwear prefer to honor the history and the culture by selecting a high-quality hat they can wear with pride. At Paris Hatters, we have spent 100 years as custom hatters honing our skills to ensure our customers get the best. Contact us to browse our wide range of high-quality cowboy hats and learn more about the different styles available.


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