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National Hat Day: The Cowboy Hat

“Don’t ever mess with a Cowboy’s, or cowgirl’s, hat!”

Conk-case. Lid. War-bonnet. Ten-gallon. Stetson.

January 15 is declared National Hat Day and recognized as a day to make a statement and wear a hat of your choice in public. In 1797 the Top Hat was introduced in London, England to much ado. The wearer was even fined for “going about in a manner that frightened timid people.”

Besides snow gear, the majority of hats I’ve seen in my life are cowboy hats. Named the official hat for the State of Texas in 2015, I’ve listed a few do’s and don’ts about proper cowboy hat etiquette and practical uses.

The cowboy hat remains a universal image of the working cowboy. If you put one on your head, you’ll feel taller, perhaps a little more adventurous and definitely braver. In a fraction of a second, you suddenly become part of the golden age of the American West.

Boss of the Plains. Stetson.

With a smaller brim than the sombrero, John Stetson made his design more practical for the western lifestyle and climate. Suited for hotter climates of the west, Stetson’s original design had a four inch crown, four inch flat brim, and cost $5 bucks. As popularity grew, production was established in Philadelphia and throughout its history, about 3,300,000 felt hats were produced making John B. Stetson the largest hat maker in the world.

Over the years, the Stetson has maintained its reputation for exceptional quality. Remaining unchanged from the basic 1865 design, these western style hats are worn today by the Texas Rangers, National Park Service employees, and US Calvary soldiers. Today it’ll set you back about $145 bucks.

John Batterson Stetson called his 1865 creation “Boss of the Plains”

Do’s and Don’ts plus a Few Practical Uses

  • Always remove your lid when you shake a woman’s hand.
  • Always take your hat off during the National Anthem.
  • Your cowboy hat makes the perfect water container for your horse.
  • DO remove your hat when sitting down for a meal or entering a place of worship.
  • Rest your cowboy hat on it’s top crown, upside down.
  • Cowboy hats can be used as a fan for campfire flames.
  • When swatted against a thigh, it’s a useful tool to motivate stubborn livestock.
  • Shield a riders neck and face from sun, rain or snow
  • Smaller brim allowed a rider to swing a rope over his head.
  • It’s bad luck to lay your cowboy hat on a bed.
  • Never, ever touch a cowboy’s hat without permission.

“You’ll ride a black tornado ‘cross the western sky

You’ll rope an ol’ blue northern, and milk it ’til it’s dry

Bulldog the Mississippi and pin its ears down flat

Long before you take this cowboy’s hat”

Chris LeDoux, “This Cowboy’s Hat”

Today you can find a wide variety of styles and colors made by American hat makers, including Stetson, Resistol and the American Hat Company. Whichever style you choose, the cowboy hat remains an iconic symbol of the American West. Happy National Hat Day!

Natalie Bright is an blogger, speaker, and author of fiction and nonfiction books for kids and adults. KEEP ‘EM FULL AND KEEP ‘EM ROLLIN‘ featuring authentic recipes from the cattle trail along with ranch photography and history of the great cattle driving era. Coming early spring 2023, END OF TRAIL EATS will feature the food and history of cowtowns.

 Visit her Amazon Author Page to learn more.