When Did Cowboys Start Wearing Cowboy Hats

Cowboys have long been associated with the classic American image of the Wild West, but when did they start wearing cowboy hats? This sartorial choice has become an iconic part of the cowboy look, but its origins are rooted in practical needs and the everyday realities of life as a cowboy. This article will provide a thorough exploration of the cowboy hat and its history, covering when it was first adopted by cowboys, how it has evolved over time, and how it has come to be seen as a symbol of the American West.


The iconic cowboy hat has its roots in the hats worn by Mexican vaquero, or horsemen. These hats were typically felt and had a wide brim to protect from the elements. Vaqueros began herding cattle in the mid-19th century, and their look and style of dress was quickly adopted by American cowboys in the West. The earliest known American cowboy hat was made out of beaver fur-felt, and was designed by John B. Stetson in 1865. It was a practical garment, protecting its wearer from strong winds, sunlight, and other elements.

Evolution over Time

The modern cowboy hat has changed significantly since its inception. In the early days, the brim was wide and the crown was shallow and tapered, which was designed to help protect the wearer’s eyes from the sun. The style changed over the years to a taller crown and a narrower brim to provide better sun protection. By the 1940s, the style had become more ornate, with taller crowns and more decorative elements. Today, cowboy hats can be found in a variety of colors and materials, and they come in different shapes and sizes. They are also often decorated with tassels, braids, or decorative embellishments.

Symbol of the West

The cowboy hat has come to be seen as an enduring symbol of the Wild West. This is in part due to its association with some of the most famous cowboys in history, such as William “Buffalo Bill” Cody, whose trademark look included a distinctive hat. The popularity of western movies in the 1950s and 60s also helped to cement the cowboy hat as a symbol of the West. It has come to be seen as a symbol of strength, ruggedness, and independence.

The Contemporary Cowboy Hat

Today, cowboy hats are worn by people from a variety of backgrounds. Though the classic felt construction is still used by some, contemporary cowboy hats are often constructed from straw or synthetic materials. They come in a variety of colors and styles, and are often decorated with paint, beads, or other embellishments. Cowboy hats are no longer just associated with the Wild West and ranching, but have become a fashion statement for all types of people.


Today, the cowboy hat is still as functional as it was in its earliest days. Its wide brim protects from the sun, and its material helps to keep an individual’s head cool in hot weather. Cowboy hats are often waterproof, and they help to protect from dust and wind. Cowboy hats are also extremely durable, and with proper care can last for years.

The Cowboy Look

Cowboy hats are often seen as part of the “cowboy look,” which often includes a western shirt, jeans, and boots. The look is often seen as rugged and iconic, and has been adopted by many over the centuries. The look has become synonymous with the Wild West and the cowboy mystique. Though the cowboy hat is often the most visible part of the cowboy look, the look itself is composed of many different elements, which come together to create a distinct appearance.


The cowboy hat remains a popular fashion accessory, and has become associated with a range of styles. In the music industry, cowboy hats have become a popular part of the “country” aesthetic. They are also popular with fashion-forward individuals, who often wear them with a range of outfits. With its unique style and enduring popularity, the cowboy hat proves that it is here to stay.


Cowboy hats are typically made of felt, straw, or synthetic materials such as polyester or nylon. Felt cowboy hats are the most durable and often the least expensive. They are also the most common, and are often seen in classic western films. Straw cowboy hats are often lighter and more breathable, and are often seen in warmer climates. Synthetic cowboy hats are the most lightweight and often the most affordable.


Cowboy hats have long been associated with the Wild West, but their roots are much deeper. Adopted by American cowboys from Mexican vaquero, the cowboy hat has evolved over time and is now an iconic part of the cowboy look. Though its design has grown more ornate, its purpose remains the same: to protect its wearer from the elements. With its iconic style and enduring popularity, the cowboy hat continues to be a fashionable choice for many.

Roy Burchard

Roy S. Burchard is an experienced hat enthusiast and writer who has been writing about hats for over 20 years. He has a deep understanding of the history and styles of hats, and his writing focuses on the unique features of each type of hat, from fedoras to top hats.

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