Cowboy Hats – The Different Types and Essential Care Tips

Cowboy hats were designed to protect from the blistering sun and wind the cattlemen and ranchers of America. However, due to their good looks and excellent protection, cowboy hats quickly became a fashion statement among the townspeople. First invented by John B. Stetson in 1865, the first cowboy hat was relatively simple and featured a tall rounded crown and a flat round brim with a sweatband on the inside for a better fit. With time, many people customized the cowboy hat with different creases in the crown and rolls of the brim. Some of the most popular cowboy hat styles and tips to take care of them:


The Cattleman is the most traditional type of cowboy hat and evolved due to ranch owners wanting to look different from the rodeo riders. The crown became taller and featured a single crease down the middle with another two on both sides. The cowboys could pull down the crown when it was windy or raining to secure it and get better protection.


The Gus cowboy hat, similar to the Cattleman, is also a traditional style but has a more Outback appearance. The Gus also features a similar high crown with one crease in the middle and two on the sides. However, the most visible difference is that the crown slopes down slightly. It also goes by the name of Tom Mix.

Pinched Front

The Pinched Front, which also goes by the name of Pinch Front Crease, is another example of a classic western hat. It has a distinctive style born out of a combination of two popular styles of crowns – the teardrop crown and the diamond crown. The Pinched Front crown has partial dents on both its sides. Its crown is similar to outback-style hats and formal fedoras but with a more traditional and wider brim that commonly curls up a little.


Though it is similar to the Cattleman in many respects, the Montana has quite a few distinct differences. The crown has three creases but they become less deep and pronounced towards the back. The center dent of the crown of the Montana hat is more pronounced than the remaining two and has a sloping appearance due to the pinch on the front. The Tom Mix hat is a variant of the Montana, but it has a more prominent pinch on the front of the crown. The brim turns up a little for a distinctive look. A Tom Mix’s crown is larger than that of the Gus.


The Gambler or Telescope crease cowboy hat is ideal for hot climates since the low-height crown prevents the accumulation of hot air inside the hat and the wide brim offers good protection from the bright sun. Typically made from felt or fun, these hats cost more than conventional straw cowboy hats, which is why the wealthy landowners preferred them. The classic Pork Pie hat is a variation of the Gambler style.

Open Crown

The Open Crown cowboy hat has a distinctive round crown without any creases. While there is a resemblance to the Mexican sombrero, it does not have such a large brim, and the brim is flat. It is also famous as the “10-gallon hat”, which many people assumed to be its capacity to hold that quantity of water, however, it derives the name from the hats worn by the Mexican vaqueros, called galons.

How to Take Good Care of Your Prized Cowboy Hat

When you invest a lot of effort, time, and money to pick out the perfect cowboy hat, you will also want to look after it properly. A good hat care routine, together with proper handling and storage, can make western hats for men last for a long time. A few handy tips:

Read the Manufacturer’s Label

The secret to buying a cowboy hat that lasts for a long time is to buy a good quality hat from a reliable store or supplier. You should read the manufacturer’s label for the care instructions. For example, if it mentions, “Dry Clean Only”, you should not bother cleaning it at home because it will get spoiled. The material of the hat is fundamental to the method of cleaning it. For example, you should never try to wash a straw cowboy hat with water as you will ruin it. Another thing to keep in mind is the age of the hat. As it becomes older, it will become increasingly fragile. You need to handle it more carefully and only spot clean it if it becomes stained. In the absence of a manufacturer’s label, you should ask the store how you should clean it.

General Care

Regardless of the material of the hat, you should clean it regularly by brushing it with a soft-bristle brush to get rid of dust, dirt, and debris. The correct way of doing it is to use gentle strokes in an anti-clockwise movement. If your cowboy hat gets wet, you should shake off as much water as you can, blot it with tissue paper and dry lint-free cloth, and allow it to dry naturally without exposing it to any heat source. If it loses shape, you should use steam to make it pliable and re-shape it. Use a steamer or boil water in a kettle and use your fingers to reshape the hat. Let it dry and bush it to make it look neat. A straw hat is best cleaned by gently brushing it and then wiping it down with a clean damp cloth. In case, there are any stains, you can spot clean them with a soapy solution. However, you need to give a really-dirty hat to a professional cleaner. According to The Manual, you can treat it with a waterproof spray to avoid stains and water damage.


In addition to handling the hat gently and not leaving it in places where bright sunshine falls on it for long hours, you should ideally hang your hat on a peg, or a hat rack to ensure it does not lose shape. If putting your hat down on a flat surface, put it upside down on the crown and not the brim. Never handle the hat by its brim but hold it by the crown.


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