Cowboy Hat Brim Shapes [EXPLAINED]

A Cowboy and His Hat 

A cowboy hat is part of a cowboy’s identity. You could be wondering why there are different cowboy hat brim shapes. Could it be that these shapes can define you as a person? These different shapes tell a bit more of your personality. Over time, the cowboy hat evolved to the design we now know.

different cowboy hats

The History of the Cowboy Hat

A cowboy hat, also known as a Ten-Gallon Hat, originated in Northwest America. It was particularly associated with ranch workers in the Western and Southern United States, Western Canada, and Northern Mexico

Sertanejo music performers and participants in the North American rodeo circuit were also associated with this defining piece of attire. The cowboy hat can be dated back to the 13th century in Mongolian horse riders.

History did not state when the cowboy received its name. In those early days, the cowboy wore wide-brimmed and high-crowned hats. It is assumed that the design was borrowed from the Mexican Sombrero Vaqueros before its modern modification. Its wide shape has been modified to suit certain weather conditions and make a fashion statement.

The bowler hat was one of the first western hat styles to gain fame in the American West, prompting Lucius Beebe to refer to it as “the hat that won the west.” In 1865, John Stetson crafted the original “Boss of the Plains.” 

It had a flat brim and straight-sided crown with rounded corners. They were credited for their lightweight, waterproof features and natural color.

In the 19th century, Mexicans changed the current cowboy hat, redesigned it to have a tall crown that provides insulation, and made the brim wider to provide shade from Mexico’s hot and sunny climates. They curve the edges upwards so as not to interfere with the rope.

These hats were made from fine fur from beavers, rabbits, and other small animals. They met the demand of the Western countries, making them gain popularity across the West and beyond. 

When adventurers who had traveled to the West came back East donning the magnificent “Boss of the Plains,” the Easterners couldn’t help but look for it, too.

Different Types of Cowboy Hats

There are two kinds of materials used in cowboy hat shaping- straw and felt (they rarely come in leather material). Each material has different uses and benefits for you. So when should you wear a straw vs. felt hat?

Straw Hats

Straw hats are made from straw that has been creatively hewn together. This art originated long ago and was almost a tradition in every society in history. During the Wild West Era, communities adopted straw hats to curb the oppressive desert heat. 

You will find some straw cowboy hat brim shapes floppy and have loose weaves. This type is more casual and is a perfect accessory for the summer. Are you going for a more distinguished look? Consider the tightly woven and detailed design of cowboy hats sealed for protection (and retain the design!) 

The use of straws made the cowboy hat shaping process effortless since they are more flexible.

Felt Hats

Felt hats came in handy as they served more purpose than straw hats. Imagine a hat that not only satisfies your fashion carvings but also protects you from the sun during the day and warms your head during the night when the temperatures drop.

All this is possible because shaping felt is more manageable than shaping straw. It even held water for the cowboys’ thirsty horses and effectively fanned campfires.

If you are going for a classy cowboy look, felt hats provide, they can be dressed up or down. They are made of wool or animal fur and can be dyed any color. They can protect you from moisture and cold.

Open Crown

All cowboy hats historically began with their “open crown.” The crown is crease-less, waterproof, and elegant.

Cattleman’s Crease

A cattleman hat shape is the most traditional cowboy hat shape. This cowboy hat has a crease, with a taller and narrower crown and a curved brim.


It has a crown that’s four corners are pinched, making a square shape. Its brim is wide and has an overhanging material that wraps around the crown. The Dakota is famous among the bull riders.

Pinch Front

The pinch front is designed to have a wide brim that is typically large and sports the traditional cowboy hat style. The twofold pinches on the crown create a V-shape from above. Women prefer this design as the pinch front accentuates narrower and more delicate jaw lines making the wearer’s face appear thinner.


This cowboy hat brim shape is relatively straightforward. All cowboy hats start with a wide flat brim and no curvature.

Low Rodeo

The low rodeo hat is designed with a low rolled brim and various crown shapes to protect your face and neck from the sun.

Tracker Brim

The tracker brim has a less-than-average wide brim combined with a pinch front crown. You will notice that it’s rolled up on one side to give an asymmetrical look. 

Here are some popular terms used for cowboy hats:

  • Deerstalker
  • Hat
  • Porkpie
  • Stetson
  • Straw hat
  • Ten-gallon hat
  • Porkpie
Cowboy Hats For All

Cowboy Hat Sizes Explained

Adult Sizes

DescriptionExtra SmallSmallMediumLargeExtra Large
Head Measurement20 ⅜ – 21 in (51.8 – 53 cm)21 ½- 21 ⅝ in (54.6 – 54.9 cm)21 ¼ – 22 ½ in (54 – 57.1 cm)23 – 23 ⅝ in (58.4 – 59.3 cm)23 ¾   – 24 in (60.3 – 61 cm)
Hat Sizes6 ¼ – 6 ½ in (15.9 -16.5 cm) 6 ¾ – 6 ⅞ in (17.1 -17.5 cm) 7 – 7 ⅛ in (17.8 – 18.1 cm)7 ¼ – 7 ⅜ in (18.4 – 18.7 cm)7 ½ – 7 ⅝ in (19.05 -19.4 cm) 

Children’s Sizes 

Head Measurement20 ¼ in (51.4 cm)21 in (53 cm)21 ⅝ in (54.9 cm)
Hat Size6 ⅝ in (16.8 cm)6 ⅝ in (16.8 cm)6 ⅞ in (17.5 cm)

There will be marginal variations in hats sizes due to handwork. The measurements above provide basic guidelines. How would you know your cowboy hat size? Measure your head size! 

These are some measuring tips you need to keep in mind when buying a cowboy hat:

To take a head measurement, take the measuring tape around your head, ensuring the measuring tape is above one ear and above the eyebrow. Pull the measuring tape to a comfortable distance. Your perfect fit will depend on how tightly you measure. Let there be no free space.

Take note of the inches (or centimeters) and use the above chart to determine your correct size. If your measurement falls between sizes, take the next largest size.

Men and Women Cowboy Hat Sizes

There are no distinct sizes for men or women in cowboy hats. Adult sizes usually range from 21 ½ in (54.6 cm), which is a size 6 ⅜-24 ¼ in (61 cm) which is a size 7 ¾ in (19.7 cm). If you must guess, order a faux felt or straw cowboy hat in SM/MED and LG/XLG sizes. These hats are known to fit a wide range of hat sizes for either women or men.

Cowboy Hat Sizes for Children

If you’re wondering what hat size will fit your child, niece, or nephew, choose a size 6 ¾ and below. If possible, take measurements to be sure of the fit. Most kids will have their hats fit with stretch bands in the inner part of the brim for a perfect fit. Some hats also have an approximate age listing making your work even easier.

Cowboy Hat sizes for Infants or Toddlers

For infants and toddlers, take their measurements to get their size. You can use the age listing. However, the information is approximated. Infants are 0-12 months old, while toddlers are 1-3 years of age. The brim of their hats is fitted with a stretch band for a perfect fit, and the crown size is smaller.

The Horses Guide Top Tips for Cowboy Hat Care

The following are some cowboy hat etiquettes:

Brim and Crown Care

You want to maintain the shape of your hat. Take it off with the crown or back of the brim and wear it the same way. Avoid maltreating your crown and brim. Treat your hat right.

Don’t Leave Your Hat Laying Around

Get yourself a proper hat stand if you need your hat at hand. If you don’t have one, here’s what you should do: Put it on a coat rack or a post to support it. Flip it over if you have to lay it down. Avoid placing it on the brim at all costs, as it will lose shape. When storing it, put it in the box it came in.

Remember to Keep Things Cool

Keep your hat from excess heat and wet and moist areas. Heat will shrink your fur cowboy hat. Do not leave it in your truck, especially on those hot summer days. 

Wet Hat Care

Do not panic when your hat gets wet; let it air dry but do not force drying by using blowers, hairdryers, a stove, a tumble-dryer, or any other heat source. You will end up ruining your hat. 

Brush it Gently and Regularly

Use a brim brush to remove dust from your cowboy hat. Do this in a counterclockwise motion, going with the material’s pattern. If your hat is light-colored, use a light-colored brush, and dark-colored hats will require a dark-colored brush. 

Cowboy riding a horse

How Should a Cowboy Hat Fit Your Head?

Cowboy hats are made out of felt and straw (sometimes leather, too). Despite the material used to make them, you want your cowboy hat to fit you perfectly. The straw hat is a must if you are in hot weather (for example, Texas or Louisiana). 

When you are considering a perfect fit, the hat should follow the natural shape of your head. It should not be too tight on you because you will quickly develop a terrible headache and a crease across your forehead.

  • To measure your head, you will need a cloth and a measuring tape
  • Ask a friend to look down at the top of your head to get its general shape.
  • Measure the length and width of your head carefully.

Hold the hat by the front of its brim and put it on your head. Make sure the front is two fingers above your eyebrows, and the back is four fingers from the base of your skull. There should be a little room at your temples. Your cowboy hat should fit you comfortably.

Fitting a Cowboy Hat to Your Face

For you to get that hat style that fits your face well, you need to know the shape of your face— oval, round, long, square, heart, or diamond.

The oval-shaped face can don just about any crown and brim combination. Leave the crown open and slightly raise the brim to create a large dip in the front.

A round face will need a high crown and slated brim to counter the roundness of your face. Choose a hat with a “Brick” or “Canadian” crease, shallow side vents, and a sharp square brim with a deeper dip.

If you have a long and thin face, a medium crown height, a “Cattleman’s” crease, and a tighter square brim will accentuate your face shape. Keep away from cowboy hats with crowns that are too high or tall.

Rounded cowboy hats with curved brims highlight the delicate features of a square-shaped face. Go for the “Cool Hand Luke” crease with shallow side vents and a slightly curved brim.

Heart-shaped faces will look exceptional in a “Winslow” or “teardrop” crease with a shorter brim hat. Your cowboy’s hat brim should be flat and have a large dip in the front.

If your face is angular diamond-shaped, hats with “cutter” or “cattleman’s” creases will look good on you. There should be no dip in the front and the brim more angled.


There is no doubt about the cowboy hat’s effect on your overall look. You should know the different kinds of cowboy hat shapes and the type to wear (depending on your face and head shape). Any day is an excellent day to sport your cowboy hat!