Cowboy Hats History

The cowboy hat is a high-crowned, wide-brimmed hat best known as the defining piece of attire for the North American cowboy. The first labelled "Cowboy" hat was called the "Boss of the Plains".


The original, "Boss of the Plains", manufactured by Stetson in 1865, was flat-brimmed, had a straight-sided crown, with rounded corners. These light-weight, waterproof hats were natural in colour, with four-inch crowns and brims. A plain hatband was fitted for adjusting head size.

But this may not be the case, as history shows, The vaqueros of the Americas were the horsemen and cattle herders of Spanish Mexico. They were the first come to California with the Jesuit priest Eusebio Kino in 1687, and later with expeditions in 1769 and the Juan Bautista de Anza expedition in 1774. They were the first cowboys in the region.


Did they also wear hats? Most probably a sombrero type. As this painting depicted a Vaquero in 1850. 

Back to 1865 Stetson, also created a straw cowboy hat; distinguished by its woven makeup of different straw or similar fibres. Many say the idea was taken from the original Panama hat. But as history again will show after the middle-ages in the 15th century, many Asian and Europeans wore these type of hats, made from Hemp, Raffia or Jute.


The benefits of such a hat, not only fashion-wise, came down to the protective styling from the elements. Protecting the face and neck from a sunburn before sunblock existed. Protection from the heat in summer: White and light-coloured cowboy hats like those made of straw can reflect the sun's light, deflecting its heat. The high crown of the hat also helps to keep the head cool. During winter a fur felt style would keep your head warm and dry from the rain.

Here are a few cowboy/western-influenced hats in my collection.