How to Buy a Cowboy Hat

The cowboy hat’s origins can be traced back to the 15th and 16th centuries, with similar wide-brimmed hats appearing in Spain and Mexico.

As European settlers migrated westward in the 19th century, they encountered these styles and adapted them to the harsh realities of life on the American frontier.

The iconic cattleman hat, with its rounded crown and wide, downturned brim, emerged as the most practical design.

It shielded riders from the scorching sun, deflected rain, and kept dust out of their eyes.

Today, the cowboy hat is the preferred headwear of country music artists and rodeo athletes.

It is also a versatile fashion accessory that can be incorporated into various styles.

From the classic Western look with denim and cowboy boots to a more unexpected pairing with a three-piece suit, the cowboy hat injects a touch of individuality and charm.

But with so many styles, materials, and brands to choose from, selecting the right one can be overwhelming.

This guide will walk you through everything you need to consider when buying a cowboy hat.

Cowboy Hat Materials

Cowboy hats

Cowboy hats are traditionally made from straw or felt.

Straw hats are ideal for hot weather because they allow your head to breathe.

They are typically lighter weight and more affordable than felt hats.

However, straw hats can be more delicate and may not hold their shape as well.

Felt hats are made from animal fur, usually wool, beaver fur, or a blend.

Felt cowboy hat

They provide superior sun protection and are water-resistant, making them a good choice for year-round wear.

Felt hats are generally more expensive than straw hats and require more care to maintain their shape.

You can also find leather cowboy hats.

leather cowboy hat

They are a stylish and practical option for those who want a hat that can withstand the elements.

Leather hats require more care and need to be cleaned and conditioned regularly.

They are also hot to wear in warm weather.

Sizing Your Cowboy Hat

A well-fitting cowboy hat should sit comfortably on your head without being too loose or too tight.

The hatband (the ribbon around the base of the crown) should rest comfortably around your forehead.

The crown (the top of the hat) should not press down on your head, and the brim (the wide part of the hat) shouldn’t obstruct your vision.

Here are some tips for finding the right size and shape for you:

  • Measure your head around the forehead just above your eyebrows.
  • Use a size chart from a reputable hat retailer to find your corresponding hat size.
  • If you’re between sizes, it’s usually better to go with the larger size.

Consider your face shape when choosing a crown style.

Rounder faces may look better with a taller crown, while longer faces can benefit from a shorter crown.

Cowboy Hat Styles

Once you’ve considered the material, fit, and shape, it’s time to think about your personal style.

Cowboy hats come in various colors, from classic black and brown to more adventurous shades like turquoise and red.

You can also find hats with decorative hatbands, feathers, or other embellishments.

Here are some popular cowboy hat styles to inspire you.

The Cattleman

This is the quintessential cowboy hat, featuring a rounded crown and a wide, downturned brim. It’s a versatile style that looks great on most people.

The Gambler

This hat has a rounded crown with a crease down the middle and a slightly narrower brim than the cattleman. It’s a good choice for those who want a more casual look.

The Pinch Front

This style features a teardrop-shaped indentation at the front of the crown and a brim that can be turned up or down. It’s a classic Western look that’s both stylish and functional.

How Much Do Cowboy Hats Cost

The price of a cowboy hat can vary depending on several factors, including:

  • Material: Straw hats are typically cheaper than felt hats.
  • Quality: Higher quality felt hats, often indicated by a higher number of Xs in their description (e.g., 4X, 10X), tend to be more expensive.
  • Brand: Some brands are known for their high-quality craftsmanship and may charge more for their hats.

You can find budget-friendly cowboy hats for around $50, while some high-end designer hats can cost upwards of $1000.

Cowboy Hat Brands

When shopping for cowboy hats, you should consider these well-respected brands known for their quality and history


A household name since 1865, Stetson offers a vast selection of straw and felt cowboy hats. Their commitment to quality and heritage comes at a price, with hats typically ranging from $119 to $500 or more.


Founded in 1927, Resistol is another historic brand known for its association with rodeo riders. Their focus on durability and comfort is reflected in their price range, which falls between $200 and $300 for most styles.

American Hat Makers

American Hat Makers prioritizes American-made hats crafted with traditional techniques. Expect unique styles and high-quality materials, with prices generally between $80 and $100 for straw hats and up to $300 for premium felt options.


Primarily known for equestrian apparel, Ariat offers high-quality cowboy hats made from straw and felt. Their hats cater to a wider range of budgets, with prices typically falling between $75 and $200.

JW Brooks

For the ultimate personalized experience, JW Brooks allows you to design your dream hat from scratch. Choose your material, crown style, and brim size, creating a one-of-a-kind piece. Be prepared for a higher price tag, though, as custom hats can range from $500 and up.

Remember, this is just a starting point. Many other great cowboy hat brands exist, so do your research and consider factors like budget, desired style, and brand heritage when making your choice.

Caring for Your Cowboy Hat

A quality cowboy hat can last for many years with proper care.

Here are some tips for keeping your hat looking its best:

  • Store your hat in a cool, dry place when you’re not wearing it.
  • Brush your hat regularly to remove dust and dirt.
  • Use a hatband stiffener to maintain the shape of the brim.
  • Have your hat professionally cleaned and shaped every few years.

Should You Buy a Cowboy Hat Online or In-Store?

You can purchase cowboy hats online or from a brick-and-mortar store.

Buying online allows you to browse a wider selection of hats, but it can be difficult to find the right fit without trying the hat on first.

If you’re new to cowboy hats, it’s best to visit a store that specializes in Western wear.

A knowledgeable salesperson can help you find the right size, shape, and style for your needs.

They can also measure your head and ensure the hat fits properly.

Channel Your Inner Cowboy

black cowboy

The cowboy hat’s journey from utilitarian headwear to a fashion icon is a testament to its enduring appeal.

It’s a symbol of resilience, independence, and a connection to the American West.

The most important factor when rocking a cowboy hat is confidence.

The cowboy hat is a versatile accessory that can elevate your look and add a touch of Western heritage to any outfit.

Don’t be afraid to experiment and find a style that reflects your personality.

So, embrace the spirit of adventure and channel your inner cowboy.

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