The bowler was the most popular hat in the American Old West. It was "the hat that won the West". Both cowboys and railroad workers preferred the hat because it would not blow off easily in strong wind while riding a horse, or when sticking one's head out the window of a speeding train.
The hat is possibly the most defining staple of the cowboy’s iconic image. The round, curved brim and pinched crown has made the cowboy hat the most recognized piece of Western wear, but it didn’t always have this look.
John B. Stetson, a famous hat manufacturer from Philadelphia created the “Boss of the Plains” hat in 1865. By today’s standards, the hat was rather ordinary in design, with a round flat brim and smooth, rounded crown. Stetson made the hat out of fine fur from beaver, rabbit and other small animals to withstand the elements. Thanks to its durability, the “Boss of the Plains” was ideal for the demands of the working Westerner and became incredibly popular.
Over time, the cowboy hat underwent changes in shape to better suit the needs of its owner and evolved into the form we are more familiar with today. The brim curved up on the sides to stay out of the way of a rope, and the crown became pinched to allow better control.
Today the cowboy hat has become as much a part of fashion as it is function. Adorned by cowboys, cowgirls, rodeo athletes, musicians and movie stars alike, the cowboy hat is a truly traditional item of the West.
If you really know your hats, you will easily distinguish between your Fedoras and Trilbies.
Fedoras have a wide brim of approximately 2.5 inches and have a shallower crown of roughly 4.5 inches. The brim can be even wider. The crown is pinched on both front and back and has an inward dent at the top. Trilby, on the other hand, has a narrower brim, shorter than that of a Fedora. These hats are also known as ‘Stingy Brims’ because of their narrower brims. The crown is slightly taller and pointier as compared to a Fedora. However, even Trilbies have a pinched and indented crown, which leads to confusion as both the hats have similar construction.
The top hat is an undeniable status symbol because it represents mystery, class, and prominence, but it is also hot in warm weather. To combat this particular flaw, one inventor proposed a plan for a top hat with a removable lid that would allow for added ventilation. Seems like a brilliant idea until you remember a hat’s main purpose of keeping the sun off the top of your head. Understandably, that trend never really took off. The other problem with top hats is that they are often too tall for standard transportation. Some taxi companies thought they’d correct that problem by making the inside space of their carriages and cars taller to allow for the added height. Hats off to their ingenuity!