All of us know how cowboy hat looks, right? We see them in old-school western films or when somebody is trying to create that sexy cowboy girl look. When thinking about classic style examples, I always remember the look of Jassica Simpson with boots made for walking or ‘Malboro man’ looking under the brim of his hat. This time we will look what is the story behind cowboy hat…


Cowboy hat

Photo Credit: osvaldoeaf via Compfight cc

Although a cowboy hat is associated with American West, it is not an American creation. We all know that hats with large brims and large crowns had been popular in Mexico, but these hats came to Mexico from Spain. And in Spain it came with some Mongolian horsemen during European invasions. That’s what historians say.

Nevertheless, like all hat styles, it has been modified. Modifications made by such notability as John Stetson brought new mindset about a hat that we now know as the cowboy hat. It settle down so tight that nowadays it is a symbol and association with American West.


Not like most of stories’ about hats this hat has a one clear inventor. John B. Stetson, the inventor of cowboy hat, founded the John B. Stetson Company as a manufacturer of headgear. His name and the style of hat become synonymous. The company’s hats are now often named simply as Stetsons.

A talent to create hats probably came from John’s father, Stephen Stetson, who was a hatter. Father was the one that taught John how to make hats. He worked with his father until John was diagnosed with tuberculosis. Doctor predicted that he would live only a short time so he went to explore the American West. He met cowboys there and was hooked by the shape of their broad-brim hats.

The only thing he didn’t like was flea-infested coonskin the hat was made of. He wondered if felt would work for a light hat suitable for all weather. He came back, rented a small room, bought the tools he needed, bought a bundle of fur-felt and the John B. Stetson Hat Company was born.


Cowboy hat

Photo Credit: Bodie Bailey via Compfight cc

These new lightweight hats were in natural shades with 4 inch crowns and brims. It also had a plain strap to secure the hat. Unknown observer once said: “It kept the sun out of your eyes and off your neck. It was an umbrella. It gave you a bucket (the crown) to water your horse and a cup (the brim) to water yourself. It made a hell of a fan, which you need sometimes for a fire but more often to shunt cows this direction or that.” These words are so right! Before the invention of the cowboy hat Western settlers wore very impractical headgear, such as coonskin caps, straw hats, wool derbies and sea captain hats.

This was before John B. Stetson came along. He offered Western people durable, innovative and fine quality product – a cowboy hat.