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9 Cowboy Hat Styles: Their Shapes, Purposes, and History

Last updated: September 4, 2022

By: Miles HenryFact Checked

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I came back from vacation wearing a gambler-style cowboy hat. My grandson asked me what kind of hat I was wearing; when I told him it was a cowboy hat, he disagreed. Showing me his straw Stetson, he said this is the only real cowboy hat there is. This prompted me to educate him on different cowboy hat designs.

There are various cowboy hat styles, each with its own unique look and feel. Some of the most popular styles include the cattleman crease, brick, and pinched front cowboy hat. They are typically made of straw or felt and have a wide brim.

This article will explore the different styles of cowboy hats and their uses. Whether you’re looking to buy a cowboy hat or just interested in history, this article has everything you need to know.

Each type of cowboy hat has its strengths and weaknesses, so it’s essential to choose the right one for the job at hand. Here’s a quick rundown of each cowboy hat style:

Picture of a cattleman crease cowboy hat.

Cattleman Crease Cowboy Hat

The Cattleman crease cowboy hat is one of the most popular and classic cowboy hat styles. It is characterized by a wide brim, a high crown, and a crease in the center of the crown with two creases on the sides.

The crease style is often referred to as the “cattleman’s crease” because it was initially designed to help keep the cowboy’s hat from blowing off while riding on horseback. The larger crown gave a cowboy room to pull their hat down further over their head so it would not come loose and fall off.

In addition, the wide brim helps to keep the sun out of their eyes. The cattleman crease is a stylish, traditional-looking cowboy hat and is essential for any cowboy hat-wearing cowboy or rancher.

The Cattleman is often seen in movies and TV shows. This cowboy hat style is typically made from felt or straw and is generally very durable, but it can be a bit bulky and uncomfortable to wear for long periods.

The Cattleman Crease is also the most popular choice of cowboy hat for formal gatherings and is commonly made in felt or straw material.


  • Crown Height: 4” – 5” crown
  • Brim: Medium Curve, 4 – 4 ½.”

The Gus Cowboy Hat

The “original” Gus hat was designed for Robert Duvall in his role as Gus in the TV mini-series “Lonesome Dove.” It is a variation of the Cattleman Crease. This is a hat that pinches the front of the crown, giving it a sloped look from front to back.

The Montana Mix Crease

The Montana Crease is one of the most iconic cowboy hat styles. It is a variation of the classic Cattleman hat that has become popular in recent years.

The Montana Crease features less pronounced indentations on the sides of the crown and a more prominent center dent than found in the Cattleman, giving it a unique look that sets it apart from other cowboy hats.

While the Montana Crease may not be as traditional as the original western hat, it has become popular for cowboy enthusiasts due to its stylish and unique appearance. So, if you’re looking for a cowboy hat to help you stand out from the crowd, consider picking a Montana Crease.


  • Crown Height: 4” – 6 ½”
  • Brim: 4” – 4 ½”
Picture of a pinch front crease, one of the many styles of cowboy hats.

Pinch Front Crease

This cowboy hat is a classic style that has been around for many years and is characterized by its pinch front crease and combination of tear-drop and diamond crown, which gives it a unique look.

The Pinch Front Crease cowboy hat is typically made from felt or straw and is usually worn with the brim pointing downwards. This cowboy hat style is often worn by men and women who want a more stylish western look, and it doesn’t hurt that this shape makes the wearer’s face appear thinner.


  • Crown Height: 4”-5”
  • Brim: Medium Curved Brim
Picture of the girls wearing cowboy hats.

Boss of the Plains

The Boss of the Plains was the first commercially successful cowboy hat. It was designed in 1865 by John B. Stetson, who had moved west to work in the hat business. The hat was made of felt and had a wide brim to protect the wearer from the sun. It was also water-resistant, which was necessary for cowboys who worked outdoors.

The Boss of the Plains became popular with cowboys and was soon adopted as the official hat of the U.S. Cavalry. It is still worn today by some cowboys and ranchers. The hat has also been popularized by Hollywood, appearing in many Western movies.

Stetson hats are still made today and available in various styles, including the Boss of the Plains.


  • Crown: 4″
  • Brim: 3 1/4″
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The Brick Crease Cowboy Hat

The Brick Crease cowboy hat is one of the most popular cowboy hat styles. It gets its name from the crease that runs down the center of the crown. This crease gives the hat a more structured look and helps to keep it in place on the head. The Brick Crease style is typically made from felt or straw and is designed to be worn in all types of weather.

Picture of a gambler crease cowboy hat.

Gambler Crease Cowboy Hat Style

The Gambler is a cowboy hat popularized by Mexican Cowboys and has a creaseless crown. It’s designed with a wide brim that provides shade and protection from the sun and a low crown that helps keep the head cool.

The Gambler is typically worn with the brim flat, although you can also wear it other ways. The hat gets its name because it was often worn by gamblers and cowboys who needed to keep their eyes hidden from their opponents.

Today, the Gambler is still a popular choice for cowboys and cowgirls, and its distinctive style adds a touch of flair to any outfit. This cowboy hat is typically made from felt or straw and is available in various colors.


  • Crown Height: 3” – 4 ½”
  • Brim: 4” – 4 ¼ ” Flat Brim

Tom Mix Cowboy Hat

The John B. Stetson Company made the “Tom Mix” cowboy hat in the 1910s or 1920s. It is the original ten-gallon hat, made of an off-white felt with a matching ribbon band; it was Tom Mix’s trademark.

He was a famous cowboy movie star from the silent film era and is known for his daring stunts and flamboyant cowboy clothing.

Below is a YouTube video showing Tom Mix wearing his famous hat.

YouTube video


  • Crown Height: 7″
  • Brim: 6″
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The Open Crown Crease 

The Open Crown cowboy hat has a round top like a sombrero. This cowboy hat style became popular on cattle drives in Texas. The brim can either sport traditional-style upturned or Cattleman-style slants at both sides, depending on your preference.

The neat thing about these hats is that if you decide to change the crown, you can crease it to form another of the popular cowboy hat styles, and it’s like you have a new hat.

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Low Rodeo Cowboy Hat

A low rodeo cowboy hat is a low-crown cowboy hat with a wide brim, and it is typically made of straw or felt material. Cowboys typically wear this cowboy hat style in the rodeo.

The low crown helps to protect the cowboy’s head from the sun, and the wide brim provides shade for the eyes. The low rodeo cowboy hat is often decorated with a bandana or other colorful accessories.

Picture of a felt cowboy hat.
Picture of a straw cowboy hat.

Straw vs. Felt Cowboy hats

– The straw cowboy hat is a more casual version of the classic cowboy hat. Straw cowboy hats are usually made from tightly woven wheat, rye, or oat plants. Straw cowboy hats are ideal for summertime wear because they are lightweight and breathable.

– The felt cowboy hat is the most formal style of the cowboy hat. Felt cowboy hats are typically made from wool or fur and have a wide brim that helps protect the wearer from the sun. Felt cowboy hats are durable, but they can be uncomfortable to wear for long periods.

Picture of brick style cowboy hats.

The History of Cowboy Hats

The cowboy hat is an icon of the American West, and it all started with John B. Stetson, a famous hat maker in Philadelphia. In 1865, Stetson set out to create a hat that would be durable enough to withstand the rigors of frontier life.

His design, dubbed the “Boss of the Plains,” quickly caught on with cowboys and other working Westerners. The hat’s wide brim offered protection from the sun, while its low crown allowed for easy operation of a lariat.

Stetson’s design was so successful that it soon became synonymous with the cowboy lifestyle. Today, the cowboy hat is worn by everyone from ranchers to rodeo riders, and its timeless style continues to embody the spirit of the American West.

Whether you’re looking for a functional cowboy hat to protect you from the elements or a stylish fashion accessory, there’s a cowboy hat out there that’s perfect for you.

picture of a straw cowboy hat with a feather.

How to Choose the Right Cowboy Hat Style

First, you need to understand two terms: the crown and crease. The crown is the top part of that hat, where your head goes. It’s pretty obvious. The crease is an indentation that shapes the crown.

When selecting a cowboy hat, there are several factors to consider. Choosing a hat that fits your head comfortably is the most important thing. You don’t want it to be too tight or too loose, as this can cause headaches or make the hat challenging to wear.

Another critical factor to consider is the purpose of the hat. Are you looking for a functional hat to wear while working on the ranch? Or are you looking for a stylish hat to wear out on the town? There are different cowboy hats designed for various purposes, so be sure to select one that will meet your needs.

Choose a cowboy hat style that fits the shape of your face. For example, if you have a long face, wear a cowboy hat with a medium-height crown that sits low and has a slightly turned-up wide brim.

This will help balance out your features and give the impression of width to balance long lines on either side (your cheekbones). However, if you have a round face, a cowboy hat with a high crown and slanted brim will look good on you because its sharp angles will help to counterbalance your symmetrical face.

How to Take Care of Your Cowboy Hat.

Cowboy hats are one of the essential pieces of cowboy gear. Not only do they protect your head from the sun and dust, but they also help to complete the cowboy look. But cowboy hats are not just for show – they must be appropriately cared for to keep them looking their best. Here are some tips on how to take care of your cowboy hat:

  • Always set your cowboy hat upside down, not on the brim. When you turn your hat up, it will keep its shape and not flatten out.
  • Keep your hat in good shape by using the brim to take it on and off your head. Try to handle it close to the crown; this will help keep its form.
  • Cowboy hats should be stored in a cool, dry place when not in use. Avoid storing them in warm damp areas.
  • Felt cowboy hats should be brushed regularly with a soft-bristled brush to remove dirt or dust.
  • If your cowboy hat gets wet, allow it to air dry naturally – do not use a hair dryer, as this can damage it.

By following these simple tips, you can ensure that your cowboy hat will last for many years to come.


Cowboy hats come in many different shapes and sizes, each with a unique history and purpose. Whether you’re looking for a new hat to wear to the next rodeo or just want to learn more about these iconic headwear items, we hope this article has given you a better understanding of cowboy hat styles and their place in American culture.

Below is a YouTube video with tips on picking out a cowboy hat.

YouTube video


What is the most popular cowboy hat style?

The Cattleman is the most popular of the cowboy hat styles. As its name suggests, this hat is often seen on cattle ranchers and other working cowboys. Its distinct features include a three-crown design and a brim that slightly curves.

What does a black cowboy hat symbolize?

The black cowboy hat has a long history of symbolizing evil in old west movies. However, today’s users wear them for formal occasions such as funerals and weddings.

Why do cowboy hats curl up?

Some say cowboy hats curl up to keep the brim out of the way of swinging lariats, while others believe it’s simply a matter of fashion. There is no one answer to why they curl up at the sides.