The cowboy hat is a staple of Western style, but these days, a good cowboy hat is becoming a staple of the stylish set as well as comfortable for a day at the lake, as it is for a night out at a concert or festival.
The cowboy hat was originally created to protect ranch workers from the sun and provide insulation, and yes, was seen on cowboys as their rode their horses too. Today, aside from its functional purpose, a good cowboy hat also makes an iconic fashion statement. From Solange to Lil Nas (and countless country stars), artists are using cowboy hats to express their personal style. The good news: these days, a cowboy hat is easier to wear and pull off than you think.
More from Rolling Stone
Popular Cowboy Hat Styles
There isn’t just one kind of cowboy hat, although you might think of the most common Cattleman style. This style has three creases on the top of its crown and a slightly curved brim. The first style to gain popularity in the U.S., however, was the “Boss of the Plains” hat – a style with a high crown and no creases. It was created by John B. Stetson in 1865 (the man behind the popular “Stetson” brand).
Other cowboy hat styles include the Nevada, the Gambler, the Gus, the Dakota, and the Pinch Front. The Nevada has a flat crown and flat brim. It’s usually accented with a woven band. The Gambler is very similar, featuring a flat crown and flat, wide brim. It’s often made in black.
The Gus is almost like the Cattleman style, but its crown slopes downward towards the front. The Dakota is popular among bull riders and also appears similar to the Cattleman, but its crown has a rectangular indent. Finally, the Pinch Front is a style more popular among women because its design elongates the face for a thinner appearance. It features two deep indents on each side of the front of the crown.
What Are the Best Cowboy Hats?
The best cowboy hats for you will not just be based on the style you like best, but also based on the materials you find most practical and comfortable. Straw hats require the least maintenance, and are often the most lightweight cowboy hats. Then there are leather, fur felt, and wool hats. Although wool can be more affordable, it’s not waterproof or as durable as some fur felt hats made with beaver, rabbit, milk buffalo, and/or chinchilla.
Below we gathered the best stylish cowboy hats that you can buy online. They’re great for accessorizing a music festival or sporting event outfit, but of course, they’re certainly suitable for ranch activities too.
1. Stetson Cowboy Hat
For a classic cowboy hat, look no further than a Stetson, the originator of “cowboy hats.” Available on Amazon, this one features a shapeable brim, and it’s made out of 100 percent genuine leather. The metal details around the band gives it extra vintage appeal and the hat will only look better the more you wear it in.
2. Brixton Wesley Packable Felted Wool Fedora
This Brixton fedora isn’t your typical kind of cowboy hat, but it’s appropriate if you don’t want to feel like you’re exaggerating western style. The felted wool hat has a wide floppy brim that makes the look feel more relaxed, and the less-structured style makes this unisex style easy to wear with everyone from jeans and shorts, to dresses.
3. Vintage Reclaimed Wranglers Straw Cowboy hat
Etsy offers some solid choices of vintage cowboy hats if you’re looking for the real deal. This Seventies Wranglers hat is made with straw, a recycled leather belt, and an assortment of feathers from a blue jay, raven, golden bantam, and pheasant. The turquoise on the buckle of the belt is also a nice feature.
4. UwantC Faux Felt Western Cowboy Hat
For an affordable cowboy hat that doesn’t include real furs or leather, this faux felt hat still offers premium style. It’s a bestseller on Amazon and probably a go-to if you’re attending a western-themed party, or to wear for a park or poolside hang.
This wide-brim hat offers plenty of sun protection and includes a strap to tie around your neck for security, whether while wearing on your head or hanging around your neck and collarbone.
5. Resistol 4X SARATOGA
Classic hat maker, Resistol, also offers some of the best high-quality cowboy hats you can pick up outside of a custom hat maker. The 4X Saratoga is made of 4X wool, which means fur is included in its blend. Because it’s from Resistol, you can be sure you’re getting good quality, although the X rating can go as high as 100. If you’re looking for a less popular cowboy hat, this one is a great option, as it’s in the Gambler style. There are plenty of other styles and sizes available at Hatcountry.com too, via the link below.
6. Stetson Stoney Creek Straw Hat
Stetson’s Stoney Creek Straw Hat stands out thanks to its vents that provide a cooler fit. It also includes a chin strap. The Gus hat has a nice, natural brown color and a buckle in the front for added style. An extra bonus: its price is lower than most Stetson hats.
7. Samplife Western Cowboy Hat
This Samplife Western Cowboy Hat is made in the Pinch Front style with 100 percent wool. It’s a sleek option for both men and women, plus has a chin strap for extra secure wear. We like this tan/light brown colorway too, which is easy to pair with everything from denim and sneakers, to shorts and sandals, and every more formal wear too.
8. WESTERN EXPRESS Classic Cattleman Cowboy Hat
Straw hats are ideal for the summer, and this one by Western Express has a clean look. The black headband with silver conchos contrasts well with the hat’s off-white color. The up-turned brim adds just the right amount of extra flair.
Best of Rolling Stone