Cowboy Hats History

Cowboy Hats History

Cowboy hats are an all time favorite fashion accessory.

These high crowned hats with wide brims have always been considered a symbol of toughness and masculinity. In the earlier decades, horsemen used to wear hats similar to sombreros of Mexico to help bear the sunny climates. Especially in the American culture, these hats hold a lot of significance. If we look back into history, the origin of cowboy hats can be dated back to as early as the 13th century. However, there is no clear information as to when these hats came to be acknowledged as cowboy hats. It has been assumed that because these hats became a rage among the cowboys, people started recognizing them as “cowboy hats”.







Although, there is a lot of debate regarding the origin of such hats, the person who is often credited as being the first manufacturer of cowboy hats is J.B. Stetson. His first hats, called the “Boss of the Plains”, were usually identified as “ten-gallon hat” and were manufactured in 1865. Few of the characteristics of this type of hat included:

  • waterproof,
  • lightweight,
  • natural color,
  • 4 inch brims and crowns,
  • Round corners etc.

Stetson’s “Boss of the Plains” hats came in one style but were made available in a range of prices according to the material from which they were made. It was mostly the cowboys who bought these hats to put up with the blazing sunrays. These hats also made for a useful item to fan a fire, wave at others and whip the horse. This is how the hats gradually became a universal symbol of the Western America. Soon the trend was also started in the Eastern America when the adventurers went to the West and came back with these expensive hats. By the time the 19th and 20th century arrived, cowboy hats could be seen in most of the men’s wardrobe.


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Half of the credit of these hats’ popularity can also be given to the media which popularized the hats within no time. Since these hats conveyed masculinity, they were used by many on-screen heroes, like Clint Eastwood, Tom Mix, Buffalo Bill Cody and many more. Apart from influencing the cowboys, ranchers and farmers in the U.S., the “Boss of the Plains” was also customized for use in the military and law enforcement. Modern cowboy hats that men wear today have the same original design but are more ornamented than before. Some of the additions are hat band, strings, buckles etc.