History of Felt hats & Straw
hats - Western felt hats
history of the western felt hat is not that old. Before the invention
of the cowboy hat by John B. Stetson, the cowpunchers of the plains
wore castoffs of previous lives and vocations. Formal
top hats and derbies, leftover remnants of Civil War headgear,
tams and sailor hats, were all worn by men moving westward.
The hat on the right worn by a confederate soldier,
is similar to a standard US army hat, prior to the Civil War. Hats
black felt and usually trimmed
with a black ostrich
feather for enlisted men, and a cord terminating in two tassels.
The brim was
looped on the left side, and the feather worn on the side opposite
A wide and flat brimmed neutral color hat,
the Stetson Boss of the Plains, was popular in the American Southwest
beginning in the late 1800s.
Although smaller headgear was usually reserved for
town, derby and bowler hats were popular on the western
frontier, as were wide brimmed sombreros. A wide brim hat, much
like the plantation hats of the deep south were common by those living
in sunny climates.
Presidents Truman, Eisenhower, and Johnson all preferred
to wear the Stetson "Open Road", a small, formal western hat.
Today, while there are many manufacturers involved
in making both inexpensive wool and felt machine-blocked hats, as
well as custom manufacturers making hand creased magic, the basic
western felt hat remains the same. While some of today's hats remain
true to their turn of the century beginnings, others follow their
own design features. Today's western hat continues to be seen as
the last vestige of apparel of a young and untamed nation. It makes
statement about the tough individuality at the center of every pioneer
that carved a life from the new frontier.
Western straw hats - read more