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Felt Cowboy Hats: When Should You Wear Them? 2023 Top Picks

Last updated: July 25, 2023

By: Miles HenryFact Checked

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My grandfather was a man who never walked outside without wearing his cowboy hat. He wore two types, straw and felt; looking back on those days; I often wonder how he chose which one to wear. Of course, there were rules for this sort of thing – and I wonder if they are still followed today?

Traditionally, real cowboys break out their felt cowboy hats in the fall, and they’re perfect for special occasions like weddings and parties. But you can also use one to dress up any outfit from jeans and a T-shirt to business attire.

Cowboy hats are a classic piece of Americana. They have been around for centuries, and they show no signs of going out of style. In fact, cowboy hats are becoming more popular than ever before.

Many people are choosing to wear them as part of their everyday wardrobe. But when is the right time to wear a felt cowboy hat? Please keep reading to find out, plus I give you my top felt cowboy hat picks.

Picture of a felt cowboy hat hanging on a barn wall.

When to wear a felt cowboy hat.

Do you have a felt cowboy hat but don’t know when to wear it? You’re not alone. A lot of people are unsure about when it’s appropriate to sport this style of cowboy hat.

One of the great things about cowboy hats is that you can wear them year-round. In the winter, they will keep your head warm, and in the summer, they will protect you from the sun. However, there are a few things to consider before wearing a felt cowboy hat.

The general rule is to wear felt cowboy hats in the fall, starting from Labor Day all the way through Memorial Day. Felt cowboy hats are ideal for cold weather because they are made from heavy, warm materials such as animal pelts.

You can also wear a felt cowboy hat for special events or formal occasions like weddings or business dinners. However, most real cowboys take off their hats when indoors and when eating.

The tradition of removing your cowboy hat indoors doesn’t apply to indoor rodeos or concerts. If you watch rodeos, you’ll notice many cowboys wear dark felt cowboy hats during significant events, like the National Finals Rodeo held annually in Las Vegas.

Picture of my felt cowboy hat made by American Hat Makers.
 Felt cowboy hat by American Hat Makers

Best Felt Cowboy Hats

If you’re looking for the best felt cowboy hats, you’ve come to the right place. Here are a few of my favorites. These are classic Western-style hats that are high-quality and durable.

Update: I just got my first felt cowboy hat from American Hat Makers delivered this week. It is well-constructed, looks good, and is comfortable. After I wear it for a season, I’ll provide a review. Here is a link to their site so you can check it out.

RESISTOL Men's Black Gold Hat, 7 1/4

Best Overall: RESISTOL Men’s Black Gold Hat

This Resistol Men’s Black Gold Hat is a classic cowboy-style hat made from 20x beaver felt for a soft, silky feel. It features a 4-inch brim width and 4 5/8-inch crown height. It comes with a matching felt hatband and an engraved silver buckle set.

Resistol is a reliable hat brand. This hat is the most expensive on my list, but it’s also the only one made from beaver pelt. If you’re in the market for a quality felt hat but don’t want to spend for authentic beaver, I suggest you check out some of the Resistol felt cowboy hats.

Best value: ARIAT Men’s Wool Cowboy Hat – A7520001

The Ariat® A7520047 wool cowboy hat is as reliable as it is tough. This hat helps keep the sun out of your eyes and the sweat off your face during all your outdoor activities. The 100% wool band is accented by a three-piece buckle set, while the genuine leather sweatband ensures all-day comfort.

Stetson Men's Bozeman Outdoor Hat, Black, Large

Most versatile: Stetson Bozeman Outdoor Hat

Looking for a versatile and tough cowboy hat? Look no further than the Stetson Bozeman. Made from 100% soft wool felt, this hat is durable and crushable. You can pack it, smash it, pop it, and you’ll still be able to put it back into its original shape!

The water-repellent finish means you can wear it without worrying about light rainy, or snowy weather. It has a stylish leather band coupled with a quick-drying Dri-Lex leather sweatband which is breathable to keep your head cool on hot days.

I love this hat; it has a Western look but also compliments other styles; it’s more retro or boho than the other men’s cowboy hats on my lists. However, it does have a functional brim to protect you against the elements. Stetson is a trusted brand, and they deliver with the Bozeman.

Charlie 1 Horse "Runaway Gray

Best women’s Western felt cowboy hat: Charlie 1 Horse “Runaway Gray” Ladies Felt Cowboy Hat

The Charlie 1 Horse women’s cowboy hat is the perfect choice for any lady looking to add a touch of class to her Western look. The gray felt crown and the black band are trimmed in a silver woven pattern that adds an elegant touch.

The 4-inch brim has a rolled edge that completes the classic look of this high-quality cowboy hat.
This ladies-felt cowboy hat from Resistol is 100% fur-felt and made in the USA.

  • Stylish
  • Lightweight
  • Comfortable
  • Versatile
Lisianthus Women Belt Buckle Fedora Hat Dark-Camel

Best Boho felt hat for women: Lisianthus Women Belt Buckle Fedora Hat

Boho hats are all the rage, even among the Western community. They aren’t used for riding hats but rather for wearing out and dressing up. The style derives its name from the Bohemian faction and looks great with a skirt or jeans.

Lisianthus Women Belt Buckle Fedora Hat is a stylish and elegant hat which is suitable for any occasion. The hat features a classic design with a belt that makes it fashionable, elegant, and charming.

It’s made of high-quality material, breathable, lightweight, and comfortable for all-day wear. This fashionable fedora will be the perfect gift for that fashionable, on-trend friend of yours!

Best Felt Hats for Kids: Kangaroo Cowboy Hat

This is a great cowboy hat for kids. The Kangaroo Cowboy Hat has a pull-on closure, durable felt with metal studs, approx. 21¾” circumference (inside the hat) is made in China, but it is available only in black.

This cowboy hat is not just for costumes but for real cowboys. Your kids can wear it to work around the barn or to play. It’s great for rodeos and western-themed parties too.


  • Comes with a pull-on closure
  • Enhanced with metal studs
  • Great for teenagers fits head sizes up to 21 inches


  • Comfortable
  • Value for money
  • Great for gifting


  • No elastic band inside, so- fitting could be an issue.
Picture of the girls wearing cowboy hats.

What Kind of Cowboy Hats Should You Wear in Summer?

Straw hats have been worn in Asia and Africa since the Middle Ages. By the late 1900s, these hats were embraced by people from all over the world. 

Most cowboys wear straw hats in summer. Ideally, you can wear a straw cowboy hat from May to Labor Day. This is why they also celebrated the counterpart of Felt Hat Day – called ‘Straw Hat Day.

This was the day when people switched from wearing winter hats to summer hats. This day varied from place to place – for example, it was celebrated on May 15th in Philadelphia.

Here are some properties of straw hats that make them perfect for hot weather:

  • Composition – Straw cowboy hats are made from materials like wheat, rye, or braided hemp straw.
  • Breathability – Straw hats are extremely breathable thanks to the natural holes.
  • Moisture-wicking – Straw hats dry off the sweat, and the holes allow better ventilation.
  • Keep the head cool – In peak summers, straw hats keep things light and airy and prevent sweating and overheating.

Best Straw Cowboy Hats

If you’re looking for a stylish and practical cowboy hat, a straw version is a great option. There are many different styles to choose from, so you can find the perfect one for your needs. Here are some of the best straw cowboy hats on the market today.

Queue Essentials Western Style Pinch Front Straw Canvas Cowboy Cowgirl Straw Hat (Large/X-Large, D)

Best Straw Cowboy Hat for Women: Queue Essentials Western Style Pinch Front Straw Canvas Cowboy Cowgirl Straw Hat

Are you looking for a classic cowboy hat? Look no further than Queue Essentials Western Style Pinch Front Straw Canvas Cowboy Cowgirl Straw Hat. This hat is available in a selection of either felt or canvas and in men’s and women’s styles.

It has a cattleman-style elastic headband and is high quality, durable, and long-lasting. You can choose from many different styles and colors! So go ahead and head out to the rodeo, concert, or any other occasion – you can’t walk in those boots without a great-looking cowboy hat.

Best Straw Cowboy Hats for Kids: Child Authentic Classic Cattleman Straw Cowboy Hat

Introducing the Child Authentic Classic Cattleman Straw Cowboy Hat with Silver Conchos! This straw cowboy hat is perfect for your little one, sized to fit most children between the ages of 3 and 13 years old.

It features a protective coating to help keep it in great condition and comes with beautiful silver conchos on the band. Add this hat to your child’s wardrobe today, and let them feel like a real cowboy!

Stetson And Dobbs Hats SSSQRE-7940 Square,Eyelets, Reg Oval Cowboy Hat, Natural - 7.5/L

Best Straw Cowboy Hats for Men: Stetson SSSQRE-7940 Square Eyelets Reg Oval Hat

This Stetson hat is the perfect addition to your Western wardrobe. The 4″ brim and 4 1/2″ crown provide ample shade and protection from the sun, while the square eyelets add a touch of style.

Made of high-quality straw, this hat is comfortable and durable but lightweight enough to provide the protection you need from the hot sun.


  • Some people found they run large.
Picture of a felt cowboy hat.

What Is the Purpose of a Felt Cowboy Hat?

Do you know what the purpose of a felt cowboy hat is? A lot of people think that they are just for decoration, but there is actually a specific reason why cowboys wear them. Here are some of their benefits:

Great for winters

Felt can be made of wool, fur, acrylic, or other natural or manufactured materials. These materials are ideal for the winter months and provide warmth and comfort. Some felt hats are also water-repellent and keep moisture out.

Can be dressed up or down

Felt is also versatile, so you can wear it on various occasions. From performing ranch or barn chores to riding or hiking or simply lounging outdoors, felt cowboy hats look great on jeans, khakis, shorts, and other casual and semi-formal attire.

UV protection

Felt cowboy hats with a wide brim can protect your face, neck, and head from the sun. This is important to maintain your skin health and prevent cancer.

What Time of Year Do You Wear Felt Cowboy Hats?

Felt hats may have been invented in the 17th century when people used a process known as carroting to create hats from animal skins. By the 20th century, though, cloth felt hats were more popular. 

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 Felt Hat Day when men transitioned from wearing summer hats to winter or felt hats. This day usually occurred in September or October.

Here are some properties of felt hats that make them ideal for the winter months:

  • Composition – Felt is either made of natural fibers like wool or fur, or you can have manmade ones like acrylic, or rayon. 
  • Breathability – Felt has medium breathability, and this property is useful in the winter months as it helps protect the head from the chilly winds.
  • Moisture-wicking – Felt is highly moisture-wicking and helps keep snow and rain off your hair.
  • Heat retention – Felt has high heat retention and can keep your head nice and warm in the cooler months.
Picture of the kids wearing their cowboy hats before a Garth Brooks concert.

When Should You Not Wear a Cowboy Hat?

Cowboy hats are a great way to show your Western style, but there are some situations where they just don’t fit in. Here are some cowboy hat etiquette rules to follow:


Always remove your when inside, especially for formal occasions and when eating. The first thing to think about is the occasion. But if you are going to a country concert or a rodeo, even if indoors, then a cowboy hat is definitely the way to go.

During formal occasions

.A cowboy hat is not appropriate for every situation. For example, if you are attending a funeral, it is best to leave your cowboy hat at home or take it off when inside.

During seated meals

You can continue wearing the cowboy hat for informal meals or quick ‘grab-a-bite’ at the ranch. However, the hat should be off for seated meals at a table.

When Is It Disrespectful to Wear a Cowboy Hat?

During formal events

Avoid wearing the cowboy hat during the Pledge of Allegiance, during the National anthem, and during weddings and funerals. This is disrespectful.

While introducing yourself to a woman

Ideally, men need to remove their hat with their left hand and shake the woman’s hand with their right hand. This means that a man should ‘ideally’ tip off his hat in an elevator if a woman enters it and keep it off until she has left.

When talking to elders or priests

It is considered disrespectful not to remove the hat when you’re in the church and especially while talking to the pastor or priest. The same holds true when communicating with older adults.

Can You Wear a Cowboy Hat in a Bar?

There are two lines of thought here:

Some experts maintain that you should not wear a cowboy hat indoors. This means you must remove your hat when you go to bars, cafes, restaurants, etc., of course, and you may wait till you are seated to remove your hat.

Other experts believe that it is okay to wear a cowboy hat inside a bar with a lady. However, at seated table meals, the hat should always come off.

Can You Wear a Cowboy Hat if You Are Not a Cowboy?

Cowboy hats are an essential part of Western attire. But the modern cowboy dresses in many styles. Even if you go to Texas, you will find that not everyone wears Stetsons outside of dance halls.

Of course, you can wear a cowboy hat even if you’re not a cowboy. But wearing a cowboy hat needs a panache. One should wear them with jeans and women can also wear cowboy hats with long skirts. 

Remember one important rule when wearing cowboy hats: boots with no hat are okay. But a hat with no cowboy boots is a social faux pas. Nothing screams ‘Yankee’ like a guy in a cowboy hat worn with loafers.

Conclusion – Felt Cowboy Hats: When Should You Wear Them?

A cowboy’s headgear may be regarded as a type of plumage, but it also has a practical side to it. It protects his head from the elements – the harsh sun, biting cold, and blowing wind.

During the old west period, most cowboys had one cowboy hat – typically a felt Stetson – which they wore all year round. However, in more recent times, cowboys typically have several hats and select one based on the weather.

Today, there is a great deal of interest in cowboy hats, and they remain an iconic piece of Western wear. However, most people who wear cowboy hats do not know that there are rules and etiquette to follow when wearing them.

Felt cowboy hats are ideal for wearing in winter. Cowboys most often wear them with jeans, but you can wear them with slacks or a suit as well. They protect the head from the elements and are also stylish. Felt cowboy hats are a must-have for men and women who want to channel their inner cowboy/cowgirl. In summer, you can stick to straw hats.

I hope this guide helps you understand the etiquette behind wearing cowboy hats and provides some information to help you select the best one for your style and needs.

FAQs – Felt Cowboy Hats: When Should You Wear Them?

What do the ‘Xs’ mean on cowboy hats?

In felt hats, the X’s denote the amount of fur used. Felt fur hats are made from beaver, mink, and other animal furs. The more Xs, the finer the fur is in the hat. In straw hats, the X’s indicate the tightness of the weave and the narrowness of the straw reed.

Can you get felt cowboy hats wet?

Good-quality felt hats made with animal fur or synthetic materials like acrylic have water repellence. So you could get them wet, and they should still retain their shape.

What does it mean when a cowboy tips his hat?

Tipping the hat is a sign of respect or even a form of greeting between acquaintances.

Can you keep your cowboy hat on the bed?

Cowboys don’t put their hats on a bed. According to an old superstition, putting a cowboy hat on a bed can bring bad luck. There are also jokes about not placing any hats near your bed if you want to avoid head lice spreading around too much.