The western fedora hat has been a staple of American culture for more than a century. In the past, these hats were usually worn in rural areas or on the silver screen by actors in western movies. Nowadays, they are a popular type of accessory for people across the globe. But there is still a lot of confusion about what constitutes a western fedora hat and how it is any different from a “cowboy hat.” So, in today’s guide, we will dispel some of the myths about western fedoras and explain exactly how they compare to other hat designs.
The Western Style Hat
There are thousands of different hat designs that have come in and out of fashion throughout history. However, western hats came about in the United States sometime in the mid-19th century. These hats featured deep crowns and wide brims to protect people out on the prairie from the hot summer sun. They were especially popular among ranchers and anyone who frequently rode horses (typically men in the 19th century).
But it is important to note that Americans did not invent western or country hats from scratch. Throughout history, people who spent a lot of time riding horses often used various hats and head coverings with wide brims for greater protection from the sun and rain. However, the traditional western fedora hat that we’ve come to know today was more specific in its design.
What Is a Western Fedora Hat?
The western-style hat came about as American pioneers began moving westward across the United States. While the east coast had already become populated with bustling cities, everything west of the Mississippi River was still wilderness to the American explorers, even though much of the land had been occupied by Native Americans for centuries. Therefore, the lifestyle required more rugged, versatile hats than those worn by city dwellers.
Western-style fedoras served the exact needs of the westward-bound pioneers, farmers, ranchers, and cowboys of the day. Rather than using silk or other expensive materials associated with top hats, the fedora style cowboy hat was made using mostly beaver or rabbit fur. Since many of these pioneers and cowboys needed to hunt for food anyway, it only made sense that they use the skins to fashion practical hats.
The design of the fedora cowboy hat also functioned to keep the hot sun off of the face, neck, and shoulders of the people who spent their entire day outdoors in the blazing heat. The deep crowns ensured that they could be placed firmly on the head and were less likely to blow off with a gust of wind. Thus, the cowboy fedora became a surprisingly integral part of pioneer life as Americans expanded their borders to the west coast.
However, western fedoras have come a long way since the days of pioneers in wagons. Nowadays, western fedoras are generally made from a wider array of materials, particularly fur felt and leather. The styles have also changed over the years to adapt to changing fashions. These changes also led to the separation between traditional cowboy hats and western fedora hats.
Western fedoras also differ from “regular” fedoras in their colors and features. For example, you can get a bright orange fedora with a black band and colorful feather, but this wouldn’t be a western fedora. Why? Because western fedoras are often more simplistic in their designs. They usually feature one solid color for both the felt part of the hat and the band. Additionally, these colors tend to be earth tones like brown, beige, or gray. Western fedoras are also far less likely to feature more extravagant features like sparkling studs or decorative feathers.
Cowboy Hats Vs Western Fedora Hats
At first glance, cowboy hats and western fedora hats might appear quite similar. However, there are very specific differences that can allow you to distinguish the cowboy hat style from the more modern western fedora style. The most important and noticeable differences come from the size and shape of the crown, the presence of a band, and the style of the brim.
The old-school cowboy hat is often referred to as a 10-gallon hat and is unique for its extremely tall crown. Though styles can still vary (with some crowns being round and others featuring indentions), 10-gallon hats always feature crowns that are substantially larger than their fedora counterparts. Alternatively, western fedoras typically have crowns that are no higher than 5 inches, while traditional cowboy hats can have crowns that stand taller than 7 inches.
The band that typically wraps around the base of a fedora crown is also less common among traditional cowboy hats. Some cowboy hats replace the wider fedora band with a piece of tied fabric that looks much like a rope or even a much thinner band. Western fedoras can have thin bands as well, but they often have bands that are wider than 1.5 inches, while most cowboy hats and 10-gallon hats forego bands entirely.
Lastly, the style of the brim is one of the biggest differences between cowboy hats and western fedoras. Cowboy hats are distinguishable for stiff brims that have a steep incline on the sides and a slight decline on the front and back. Alternatively, western fedoras have a much wider range of brim styles. Most western fedoras are wide-brimmed, but they can be flat, upturned, or partially upturned. However, the style of having the left and right sides of the brim turned upwards is very specific to the cowboy style of hat.
The Texas Western Style Fedora Hat
If you’re like most people these days, you likely want to take parts of existing styles and have them adapted for modern fashion trends. After all, outside of rural areas of the United States, you are unlikely to see people walking down the street wearing 10-gallon cowboy hats. For this reason, a western style fedora is a great way to combine some of the best features of cowboy hats with the modern aesthetics of a high-quality fedora.
A perfect example is the Texas Western Style Fedora by Bellissimo Hats. This western fedora maintains a high crown but utilizes a more modern, versatile brim. The brim is upturned at the edges, giving it a wholly unique style that perfectly blends classic and modern designs. As an added bonus, the Texas offers two color options — tan and silverbelly — maintaining the visual traditions of western style hats.
And while western hats and cowboy hats have historically been associated with men, that has changed over the last few decades. Now, it is not uncommon to see western fedoras for men or women. The Texas is particularly well-made for women and men because it blends styles from different eras, with a particular emphasis on modernizing the classic look of western hats.
Finally, you don’t have to live “out west” to enjoy the Texas hat or other western style fedoras. Modern fedoras are increasingly popular in a wide range of settings, from red carpet events to casual suburban house parties. This means that you can look great in a western style fedora no matter where you go!
We hope you found this guide on western fedora hats both fun and useful! If you’d like to buy a high-quality, western fedora hat to add to your collection, be sure to check out some of the options available at Bellissimo Hats today!