Perhaps nothing did more to popularize cowboy hats than the Western movies and TV shows of the fifties. Kids had their favorite cowboy and knew his horse’s name and what kind of cowboy hat he wore. With no computer games to play, imagination became more important. Kids loved to play cowboys and Indians.
Retailers were too sharp to let this demand escape them. There were no malls or internet, so the Sears catalog became the shopping tool that reached every part of rural America and cowboy outfits were part of the kids section. You could buy a Roy Rogers outfit with everything from hat to holster. These kids grew up thinking that cowboy hats were always a part of the Wild West.
Actually, what we consider a cowboy hats today didn’t exist before 1865 when John B. Stetson created The Boss of the Plains, a felt cowboy hat with a high rounded crown. This Stetson sold for $5 originally and the company based in Philadelphia produced over 2 million hats a year by the early 1900s.
Soon cowboys wanted to express their own individuality by adding creases to the high rounded crown. This turned into a study of its own and the cowboy hat business developed a litany of creases, each with its own name. Here are a few:
- Cattleman Crease: This crease went from the front of the crown to the back with indentions on each side. The cattleman cowboy hats is a dressy look seen on the TV series Dallas.
- Teardrop Indention: The shape has the rounded crown pushed down and then a teardrop shape pushing back up making more room for the head and leaving a trough around the teardrop.
- Pinch Front: Usually accompanying a teardrop indention, the hat comes to somewhat of a point at the top of the crown with pinch indentions on each side. An Indiana Jones type shape
- Gus Crease: Often called Montana Peak before the TV mini-series Lonesome Dove. Captain Gus in the series wore this hat. It is a ten gallon with a crease sloping down the front.
- Telescope Indention: The indention usually seen on gambler hats. The oval crown rises at a slight angle inward. The top is pushed down and then back up (sometimes referred to as a C indention) making more room for the head. This leaves a sharp ridge around the top of the oval crown.
Serious western hat fans know the creases and those that have custom hats made request the crease they want. But most cowboy hat fans today don’t know what they call them, but know what they like. In addition to the creases, many cowboy hats are shapeable and this provides even more opportunity to give the headwear personality.
The cowboy hat continues to evolve. This is the second year that vibrant colors in cowgirl hats are trending up–colors like vibrant yellow, hot pink, and orange or pumpkin.
Also palm straws made in Mexico are bringing the authentic Western look to cowboy hats, many with high crowns or wide brims. These style don’t have the wired brims that make shaping easy, but they have an authentic look expected at rodeos, horse shows, or country music halls in Texas.
If you visit a Western store, you are sure to see the palm straw cowboy hats with a firm body like the one shown. Theses are serious cowboy hats for trail rides and rodeos.
But if your location is selling cowboy hats to wear to the beach or working outdoors, the toyo and straw hats dominate this market. New arrivals include eye-catching pinch front cowboy hats in all the popular colors. You not only get handsome shape and plenty of color choices , but also a low wholesale price that makes retailing easy.
If you feel these styles don’t fit your customer, browse the rest of the hats in the cowboy hat category. There are around 70 styles to pick from. Cowboy hats deserve some representation in your headwear selection because this is an American icon in hats. I am sure it will never go away.