Choosing a cowboy hat can be difficult, especially for the first-time buyer, given the wide variety of styles and materials. Depending on what you want, you can wear a straw hat in summer for protection from the sun, and a felt one on formal occasions when the weather turns cool. Further, you can get cowboy hats across a spectrum of price points, which makes it even harder to decide if you should buy a cheap one or an expensive handcrafted model guaranteed to turn heads wherever you go. Some insights into one of the world’s most popular hats and how to buy one:
Reasons to Wear Cowboy Hats
The fundamental reason why cowboys wear hats in the first place is to protect them from the blistering sun and dust when out herding cattle on the hot and dusty plains. The brim of the cowboy hat folds up to give optimal protection from the sun and the wind without obscuring the eyesight. However, city slickers love the cowboy hat for the sun protection and its fashionable looks, perfect for daily use and special occasions when you want to add a Western flair to your style. The great thing about cowboy hats is that they come in many different styles and materials. While it does make choosing one difficult, it also means that you are likely to find one that suits you for every occasion you can think of. It is best to wear a cowboy hat to complement your western attire like jeans, button-down shirts, vests, boots, etc.
What to Look Out for When Buying a Cowboy Hat?
There are quite a few factors you need to consider when buying a cowboy hat. The main issues are the comfort, how well it fits, the choice of the material, whether the style looks good on you, the level of sun protection, and the cost. Your selection of a cowboy hat style also depends on the time of the year and the occasion.
Straw cowboy hats are great during a hot and sultry summer because the wide upturned brim delivers good sun protection. The material makes the hat lightweight and breathable, which adds to comfort when the weather is hot and muggy. Another factor that works in favor of straw hats is they are usually much cheaper than felt cowboy hats and require significantly less maintenance than hats made of wool or leather. However, you should not assume all straw hats are cheap because the price depends on the quality of the straw, the tightness of the weave, and the effort put in by the artisans. When buying a straw cowboy hat, you can check out the number of Xs on the label. A hat with a higher number of Xs will be of higher quality and cost more than one with a comparatively lower number of Xs. According to American Cowboy, no standards, unfortunately, exist for this system, which is why you must also exercise your judgment.
On the other hand, a felt cowboy hat is a great choice if you want to wear it on a formal occasion, especially when the weather is cool since the felt keeps your head warm. Because of the nature of the material, felt hats tend to be more long-lasting than straw hats, but they are also heavier. While it is more common to wear cowboy hats on casual occasions, it is not out of place to pair dark felt cowboy hats with suits to weddings, dinners, or business meets, especially during winter evenings. As a rule, you should wear straw hats in the summer and switch to felt ones during winter.
You can get cowboy hats across the full spectrum of price points ranging from the cheap one mass manufactured with machines to the handcrafted ones that take months to make and cost a bomb. Even if you can afford them, you still need to decide which one you should buy. However, if you are a true cowboy hat aficionado, you will want an authentic hat made in America, not in some far-away foreign factory. You also need to figure out if you want a hat you will only wear a couple of times to casual parties or one that will be an integral part of your wardrobe. If you want to use it regularly, you should buy a well-made one that will invariably be more expensive. The material also plays a significant role in the pricing. Generally speaking, straw hats cost less than felt ones. You should, however, remember wearing leather hats in summer can be an unpleasant experience since they heat more as they are less breathable. Good quality leather hats can be expensive and are a great buy if you want to wear them in cool weather. Fur is also a popular material for cowboy hats and can be expensive, but they are more comfortable and give you good protection against the sun and rain.