Cowboy Hat Colors & Etiquette for Beginners (2023)

Cowboy Hat Color Rules & When to Wear What

Is there anything more symbolic of the American West than the cowboy hat? Cowboy hats go hand-in-hand with cattle, horses, and long hours on the open range.

Whether you’re looking for a cowboy hat for work or play, there are a few things to consider. We’ll break down the history of cowboy hats, popular colors, and cowboy hat etiquette.

Cowboy Hat Basics

The modern-day cowboy hat retains some of the basic properties of the very first hats worn on the open range in the 1800s.

Although the cowboy hat is commonly viewed as a fashion statement, it retains its place as a functional accessory in many parts of the country.

Cowboy Hat History

Cowboys worked long hours in all kinds of weather. They needed protection from the elements, and the cowboy hat fit the bill.

One of the more popular hats was invented by John B. Stetson in 1865. It was called the “Boss of the Plains” and was made of fur from rabbits and other small animals. Durability was key!

The shape of these early hats was slightly different than those seen today. Early hats were more rounded and didn’t feature such turned-up brims.

Over time, hat shapes have evolved to meet the ever-changing needs of the American cowboy.

Cowboy Hat Colors & Etiquette for Beginners (1)

Photo Cred: Canva

Cowboy Hats: Common Uses

These versatile hats are great for work, play, and everything in between! They’re still a wardrobe staple for working cowboys and ranchers out West and elsewhere around the country.

(Video) Cowboy Hat Etiquette

You’ll commonly see cowboy hats as a standard part of Western show attire, especially for non-riding events such as halter or showmanship classes.

Helmets are always recommended for riding, but are generally not required for the >18 crowd.

You’ll also find cowboy hats at country or rock music festivals in the summertime.

Cowboy hats are a great way to dress an outfit either up or down. You may even see them at formal events such as weddings.

Typical Materials

Cowboy hats are generally made from either felt or straw.

Felt hats are typically more expensive and are more commonly worn during the winter months. They can be made of various furs, including beaver, buffalo, rabbit, or mink.

Straw hats are cheaper and not as warm; they are usually worn during the summer months.

Hats made of wool or leather are also available. They tend to hold more heat and are more expensive.

General Price Points

You can find a cheap straw hat for just upwards of $20. Or, if you’re looking for something with a bit of bling, Stetson has a premium felt hat with diamond embellishments that retails for over $5,000.

Cowboy hats of either the felt or straw variety come in price points between $25 and $5,000.

In most cases, it’s possible to find a hat that fits both your style and desired price point.

Popular Brands

No list of popular cowboy hat brands would be complete without mentioning Stetson. The company has been around since the mid-1800s, when they pioneered the version of the hat still recognized today.

(Video) Cowboy Hats - Etiquette, Superstitions & Such

Stetson continues to offer a massive range of quality hats at different price points.

American Hat Company got its start in Texas in 1915. Despite bankruptcy and a massive fire that destroyed millions of dollars of inventory, the company is still manufacturing quality hats today.

Cowboy Hat Colors & Etiquette for Beginners (2)

Photo Cred: Canva

Resistol is another company started in Texas. This company has been offering quality cowboy hats since 1927.

Today, they have more contemporary options, including both George Strait and Jason Aldean product lines.

Greeley Hat Works is another popular hat maker, especially in the Quarter Horse show world. They offer tried-and-true hat styles for shows, along with customizable and truly custom hats.

Most recently, you can even order Made-to-Order hats inspired by the popular TV show, Yellowstone.

Cowboy Hat Etiquette

Did you know that there are rules to wearing cowboy hats?

One of the biggest rules is that you should never touch someone else’s cowboy hat!

  • Another is that you should remove your cowboy hat when entering a building or attending a formal indoor occasion.
  • When eating in a restaurant, your hat should come off. But if you’re eating out under the open sky, leave it on to avoid theft or damage by a stray hoof.
  • It’s always customary to remove your hat during the National Anthem, passing the flag, or the Pledge of Allegiance. Funerals and church services also warrant taking one’s cowboy hat off.
  • When removing your cowboy hat, always place it on the crown rather than the brim. Putting it on the brim may distort the shape. Therefore, a hat rack is ideal for hanging one’s cowboy hat.
  • There’s also an unwritten rule about when to wear felt versus straw. It’s customary between Memorial Day and Labor Day to wear a straw hat.
  • But between Labor Day and Memorial Day, go for felt. This rule has to do with heat, as felt is generally warmer than straw.

Cowboy Hat Colors & Etiquette for Beginners (3)

Straw hat. Photo Cred: Canva

(Video) How to Pick Out a Cowboy Hat

Popular Colors

Cowboy hats come in various colors, including black, different shades of brown, gray, and white.

You can also find fun cowboy-shaped hats in all colors of the rainbow.

Hat Color by Event

The differences between cowboy hats based on particular events generally has more to do with the shape and overall function of that hat versus the color itself.

For example, events involving cattle require hats with a more relaxed brim, while hats for a Western Pleasure class may be shaped to look more like a taco.

Formal Western events, including Western pleasure, horsemanship, and halter classes, include hats with a more dressed-up appearance. The color should also tastefully match the rider’s outfit, although black is by far the most common color.

Hat Color by Age:

Since cowboy hats now come in a vast range of colors, young kids can sport purple, pink, and blue hats. Non-traditionally colored hats are also a fun option for parties or music festivals.

Any traditional hat color that complements one’s complexion and outfit is acceptable for the serious Western enthusiast.

(Video) Cowboy Hat Etiquette

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is the most popular color cowboy hat?

Black is hands-down the most popular cowboy hat color choice.

Q: What do different cowboy hat colors mean?

In old Western movies from the 1920s to 1940s, “bad guys” wore black hats while “good guys” wore white ones. The same standard does not necessarily hold true today.

Q: What color cowboy hat should you wear?

It depends on your budget, why you’re buying the hat, and whether the hat needs to match a specific outfit. In general, as long as you like the hat, anything goes!

Q: When can I wear a brown felt cowboy hat?

Felt hats are traditionally worn between Labor Day and Memorial Day because they retain heat. This makes felt hats better for colder weather.

Q: What is cowboy hat etiquette?

Mostly unwritten rules are about when your hat should be removed. The most important rule, however, is never to touch another person’s cowboy hat! Etiquette also includes directions about hat care and selection of felt versus straw hats.

Parting Thoughts

Whether you’re on the market for a cheap knock-off or high-end Stetson, keep the reason you’re buying the hat central to your decision-making process. Set your budget and start shopping once you’ve decided whether the hat is for work or play!

Keep in mind that hats of all different shapes may be more appropriate for specific facial structures or purposes. And if the hat is to be worn for show, you may want to take your show outfit with you to ensure the colors match.

Remember that there’s a hat for everyone, and have fun on your search!

P.S. Enjoy this article? Trot on over to:

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Sources

FAQs

What do different cowboy hat colors mean? ›

Q: What do different cowboy hat colors mean? In old Western movies from the 1920s to 1940s, “bad guys” wore black hats while “good guys” wore white ones. The same standard does not necessarily hold true today.

Does it matter what color cowboy hat you wear? ›

The tradition of wearing a white hat on Labor Day has long been followed, but there is no hard and fast rule when it comes to deciding what color to wear. In the summer, choose a straw hat, and in the winter, choose a felt hat.

What is the rule with cowboy hats? ›

Some people will remove it by the brim, but cowboy hat etiquette, tradition and best practice say to remove it by the crown. If you need to adjust your hat or take it off, place it down on the crown or use a hat rack. When you remove your hat or adjust it, whatever the reason, do not show the inside to anyone.

What does a black cowboy hat mean? ›

In American films of the Western genre between the 1920s and the 1940s, white hats were often worn by heroes and black hats by villains to symbolize the contrast in good versus evil.

What hat color is most versatile? ›

Gray hats are quite versatile and can be paired with black, blue, and dark gray suits and coats. Wear a blue hat with a blue or gray suit or coat. If pairing a blue suit with a blue hat, the colors must match fairly closely. Alternatively, you can pair a dark blue suit with a light blue hat or vice versa.

Do you match your cowboy hat to your boots? ›

If you're going for a more traditional cowboy look, then you might want to match your hat and boots. But if you're wanting to mix things up a bit, then don't be afraid to experiment with different colors and styles.

How do you pick a cowboy hat color? ›

Traditionally, it's the same rules as the color white during labor day. This simply means straw for summer and felt for winter. But, like any good cowboy knows, the rules don't always apply. Let common sense be your guide when choosing which type of hat you prefer.

When should you not wear a cowboy hat? ›

When to wear your hat indoors is one of the more popular topics regarding cowboy hat etiquette. It is best to take your cowboy hat off if you are indoors while eating a meal, riding in an elevator, or attending church. Some cowboys will remove their hat while entering someone's home so as not to appear disrespectful.

Why can't cowboy hats go on a bed? ›

And no matter what you do, don't ever set your cowboy hat on a bed! It's a commonly held superstition that a hat set on the bed invites bad luck to enter your home. If you choose to compete with your adopted horse, avoid wearing new clothes and using new gear—some believe it's unlucky.

How many hats should a cowboy own? ›

First, you really need five hats and it could take you a couple of years to get to the proper number. Here's why. The Felt. The felt hat starts out as your winter hat and also your formal dress-up hat in summer or winter.

Is it OK to hang cowboy hat on hook? ›

Is It Okay to Hang A Cowboy Hat? For temporary storage, a coat rack or hat hook is okay. It's not ideal for the long-term, however: Hanging a cowboy hat for long periods of time is not recommended because gravity pulls down and damages the hat, causing it to lose its shape.

What does it mean when a cowboy puts his hat on your head? ›

According to very prestigious sources like Urban Dictionary and Twitter, the cowboy hat rule means this: If you take someone's cowboy hat and put it on your head, then you're supposed to "ride the cowboy, " which means have sex with them.

Can I wear a cowboy hat if I'm not a cowboy? ›

There are many kinds of Western hat. The kind of hat that a New Yorker would call a cowboy hat. But the Western hat in general is not just worn by cowboys, or their boss—the rancher. It is now and always has been appropriately worn by men or women of almost any profession in the West.

Is it OK to wear a felt cowboy hat in the summer? ›

You can wear felt cowboy hats all year round. Still, officially and traditionally, the 'felt' season begins when the weather turns cold – typically from the Labor Day weekend up to Memorial Day. In fact, people celebrated the Felt Hat Day when men transitioned from wearing summer hats to winter or felt hats.

Can you wear a Stetson in the rain? ›

But can you really wear a Stetson in the rain? The answer is yes! While the hat is not waterproof, it is water-resistant, which means it will keep your head dry in light rain or snow. Just be sure to avoid getting it wet in heavy downpours, as the hat can lose its shape.

What is the most popular hat color? ›

The most popular color range for hats tends to be neutral colors. This makes some of the best colors for hats neutral shades of brown, beige, gray, and navy, as well as the classic black or white.

What do different color hats mean? ›

White – Managers, engineers, foremen or supervisors. Brown – Welders and workers for high heat applications. Green – Safety inspector, but occasionally used for new workers. Yellow – General laborers and earth-moving operators. Blue – Carpenters, technical advisers, and temp workers.

Do hat and shoes have to match? ›

Shoes and handbags: Shoes, bag and hat do not need to all match as long as your outfit coordinates as a whole then all three can be different colours if you wish. Often we recommend two items in a colour is enough to coordinate, again, you can over match!

Should cowboy hat be loose or tight? ›

The perfectly fitting cowboy hat will be snug around the front and back of your head, and a little looser around the sides. You should be able to easily take off and put on your hat, but your cowboy hat shouldn't easily blow away in a small breeze.

Should a cowboy hat touch the top of your head? ›

High Heads: The top of the crown should not be so low that it touches the top of your head. This can prevent the hat from coming down far enough to seat properly. If this happens with a leather or cloth hat you may need a smaller size.

Should a cowboy hat fit tight or snug? ›

Cowboy hats follow the natural shape of your head, so they should fit firmly on your forehead and the back of your head while feeling a bit looser at the sides. If the hat is too tight, you could wind up getting a headache. If it's too loose, it'll blow off or keep twisting around on your head.

What color hat should I choose? ›

Because a hat is worn so closely to your face it is important that the colour of the hat flatters your skin tone. If you have pale skin, a warm colour such as pink or rust is a good choice. Darker skin is easier to choose for, although if it is very dark, black is best avoided.

How do I choose my first cowboy hat? ›

There are several factors to consider when buying a cowboy hat such as crown shape and height, brim style, the type of material, what you will be wearing it for — such as work or events — and the price you are willing to pay for your hat.

How do I choose a cowboy hat for my face shape? ›

Find a Hat by Your Face Shape
  1. Oval- and round-shaped face: Medium to tall height crowns with a curved brim.
  2. Square-shaped face: A wide-brimmed open crease hat.
  3. Heart-shaped face: A pinch crease with a flatter brim.
  4. Long-shaped face: A Medium-sized crown with a cattlemen crease and a wide, curved brim.
1 Aug 2021

What is the hat rule? ›

A gentleman should remove his hat as he enters a building, including a restaurant, home, classroom, theater, church. This rule includes baseball caps and casual hats. Hats are to be removed when inside, except for places that are akin to public streets, e.g., lobbies, corridors, and elevators in public buildings.

Why don t cowboys put their hats upside down? ›

Cowboy Hats

Bad luck, indeed. Placing a hat brimside-down on any surface is also considered inauspicious, as all the good luck will run out of the crown (it also ruins the shape of your hat!).

What state wears the most cowboy hats? ›

1. Texas. Texas is known as the cowboy capital of the world.

Do you wear cowboy hats indoors? ›

It's customary to remove hats indoors.

One of the most basic cowboy hat rules is to remove your hat when entering a public building or private home. If you're attending a formal occasion, your hat should remain off while indoors. If it's an informal occasion, feel free to put it back on.

What is a ten gallon hat? ›

A “10 galón” sombrero was a hat with a large enough crown that it could hold 10 hatbands, but American cowboys may have anglicized the word to “gallon” and started referring to their own sombrero-inspired headgear as “10-gallon hats.” Yet another linguistic theory argues that the name is a corruption of the Spanish ...

Is it rude to put your hat on the table? ›

It's traditionally been considered bad manners for men to keep their hats on indoors and at the table. That etiquette rule is largely ignored today, though, especially in very informal settings.

What does 40X mean on a cowboy hat? ›

A 40X is going to be the first hat that has a really good amount of beaver in it. It will make a beautiful dress hat that you're proud to show off, or it could also be amazing to have on the ranch as it will stand up to the elements. A 200X hat is pure beaver back. This is the first hat that is 100% beaver.

What does 10X mean on a cowboy hat? ›

X Factor Hat Rating was originally determined by the density and shape of the material, and ranged in grade from a low of 1X to a high of 10X. Hats made of material rated below 5X generally contained a poorer grade of fur and little or no beaver fur. A 10X hat was made of 100% beaver fur.

Can you wear a cowboy hat in the rain? ›

Straw cowboy hats are not waterproof, so if you get one wet, it will absorb water and become misshapen. If you get caught in the rain, you'll probably need to wear a cowboy hat to dry. If you keep them soaking wet, they won't like it. Wool cowboy hats, as opposed to other types of hats, can become wet.

What does a fish hook mean on a hat? ›

Hooks in hats in most cultures are a symbol of Well being and prosperity . gold and silver hooks are usually used by seasoned fishermen to provide good luck or to symbolize that they are very successful or avid fishermen.

Do hat racks ruin hats? ›

Hanging your hat on a coat rack or a hat rack can be an okay way to store it temporarily. However, don't plan on storing a hat this way for a long time. When a hat is hung on a hook, gravity will pull it down over time and distort the shape.

How do Cowboys keep their hats on? ›

Use bobby pins. An accessible and affordable way to keep your hat on your head is to use bobby pins. By clipping them to your hair and then inserting the into the band of your hat, you may be able to keep your hat in place without anyone knowing your secret.

What does the sideways hat mean? ›

Sometimes people wear hats sideways because they're trying to hide their face or they don't want their hair to get messed up. There are a few reasons people might wear hats sideways. Maybe they're trying to make a fashion statement, or they think it looks cool.

Can you wear a cowboy hat on a plane? ›

When flying and wearing your Hat, simply put it under the seat in front of you, upside down so it is resting on its crown. Or just hook it on your knee while you enjoy your flight. NEVER put a Hat in the overhead bin. With luggage shifting in flight it can cause your Hat to get damaged.

Where do you put your cowboy hat when eating? ›

While eating at any restaurant

It's possible to place the cowboy hat towards the head back if you are at a building that is hosting an informal event. If the occasion is formal, you should take off the hat. If you are having a casual platter at the counter, it's considered correct to wear the hat.

What side does the feather go on a cowboy hat? ›

In those days of free sword play, the feathers were placed to the back or left side of the hat, permitting freedom of the sword arm. In addition, the hat ornament was often a love token, and the position on the left side signified the heart or love. The decoration has ever since remained on the left side.

Why do truck drivers wear cowboy hats? ›

THE OLD SCHOOL TRUCKER

They were regarded as cowboys of the road, and it was just as common for children to marvel over eighteen-wheelers as they would racecars. Truckers wore cowboy hats and plaid shirts, and they were seen as American heroes.

Are cowboy hats in Style 2022? ›

Cowboy hats are both functional and stylish — and they're a hot trend in 2022. A cowboy hat with a modern western style is a great way for anyone to add versatility to their wardrobe; they come in a wide range of colors, textures, and styles so that anyone can find a look and fit they love.

How should I wear my hair with a cowboy hat? ›

How to avoid hat hair under a cowboy hat or ball cap - YouTube

How do you break in a cowboy hat? ›

How To: Break in a Stiff Hat - YouTube

What does a black cowboy hat mean? ›

In American films of the Western genre between the 1920s and the 1940s, white hats were often worn by heroes and black hats by villains to symbolize the contrast in good versus evil.

Does Resistol own Stetson? ›

Today the Stetson and Resistol hat factories are operated under the Hatco, Inc. umbrella in Garland, Texas. The combined factories are one of the largest in the country and produce a line of hats under each name in hundreds of different styles and colors.

Does water ruin cowboy hats? ›

Outside of a few rain hats most hats are water repellent NOT waterproof. A light rain shower, drizzle, even a little snow will not destroy most felt hats. Heavy rain and thunderstorms are not good for felt hats. Straw hats (made of natural fibers) should NEVER be worn in the rain.

What do different color hats mean? ›

White – Managers, engineers, foremen or supervisors. Brown – Welders and workers for high heat applications. Green – Safety inspector, but occasionally used for new workers. Yellow – General laborers and earth-moving operators. Blue – Carpenters, technical advisers, and temp workers.

What do the different colour hats mean? ›

White Hard Hat – This hard hat is intended for foremen, supervisors, and engineers. Brown Hard Hat – If a hard hat is brown, it is typically designed for welders or workers who operate in high-heat environments. Green Hard Hat – Occasionally, green hard hats signify that the worker is new on the construction site.

How do you pick a cowboy hat color? ›

Traditionally, it's the same rules as the color white during labor day. This simply means straw for summer and felt for winter. But, like any good cowboy knows, the rules don't always apply. Let common sense be your guide when choosing which type of hat you prefer.

Do different color hard hats mean anything? ›

Green for safety inspectors and occasionally new workers. Yellow for earth movers and general workers. Blue for carpenters, technical workers and temp workers. Orange for road crew workers, visitors and sometimes new employees.

What color should hat match? ›

Pick a hat color that complements your shirt and shoes. Select a hat color that contrasts your shirt and shoes. Wear a hat that matches your shoes and other accessories. For formal or semi-formal outfits, try to match your suit jacket and pants color before matching your tie or undershirt color.

What is the best color hat to wear? ›

The most popular color range for hats tends to be neutral colors. This makes some of the best colors for hats neutral shades of brown, beige, gray, and navy, as well as the classic black or white.

Who wears a brown hard hat? ›

8. Brown Hard Hats. Brown identifies workers using applications involving high heat such as welders.

Who wears what colour hard hat? ›

The colour codes for hard hats are as follows:

White: site managers, competent operatives, and vehicle marshals. Orange: slingers and signallers. Black: site supervisors. Blue: all others on site who do not fall into the above categories, including visitors.

What does GREY hat mean? ›

A grey hat (greyhat or gray hat) is a computer hacker or computer security expert who may sometimes violate laws or typical ethical standards, but usually does not have the malicious intent typical of a black hat hacker.

What does wearing a blue hat mean? ›

The Blue Hat is the overview Hat. With Blue, think of the sky above. Or think of being cool and in control. The Blue Hat is for the management and organization of thinking.

How do I choose my first cowboy hat? ›

There are several factors to consider when buying a cowboy hat such as crown shape and height, brim style, the type of material, what you will be wearing it for — such as work or events — and the price you are willing to pay for your hat.

How do I choose a cowboy hat for my face shape? ›

Find a Hat by Your Face Shape
  1. Oval- and round-shaped face: Medium to tall height crowns with a curved brim.
  2. Square-shaped face: A wide-brimmed open crease hat.
  3. Heart-shaped face: A pinch crease with a flatter brim.
  4. Long-shaped face: A Medium-sized crown with a cattlemen crease and a wide, curved brim.
1 Aug 2021

Should cowboy hat be loose or tight? ›

The perfectly fitting cowboy hat will be snug around the front and back of your head, and a little looser around the sides. You should be able to easily take off and put on your hat, but your cowboy hat shouldn't easily blow away in a small breeze.

What does a black hard hat mean? ›

Black Hard Hat Meaning

However, wearing a black hard hat on the job site can means that you are the boss or foreman. It can also indicate that you are in a management position, or that you are a safety officer. Black hard hats are also worn by electricians and other tradespeople who work with high-voltage equipment.

What are the 3 classes of hard hats? ›

The three classes are based on the level of protection they provide from electrical hazards. Class G (General) hard hats are rated for 2,200 volts. Class E (Electrical) hard hats are rated for 20,000 volts. Class C (Conductive) hard hats do not offer electrical protection.

What does a blue hard hat mean on site? ›

Blue - for carpenters, electricians and other technical operators. Orange - for road crews. Grey - for site visitors.

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4. Why Stetson Cowboy Hats Are So Expensive | So Expensive | Business Insider
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