Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Cowboy hats start to gain steam in late 1800s

The cowboy hat came into its own during the big cattle drives of the latter part of the 1800s in the northern and southern plains of North America. Cowboys needed something to shade their eyes, face, ears and neck from the sun, wind, rain and snow. Before then, it seemed any old hat would do, including top hats, the popular bowlers with brims and the softer "slouch" hats that could be shaped to one's head. Many credit John Batterson Stetson with initiating the cowboy hat design in 1865 that is known today in a variety of styles. Stetson, a New Jersey native growing up in a hat-making family, developed a hat that was called Boss of the Plains in 1865. It was flat-brimmed and had a straight-sided crown rounded on top. Felt, beaver and rabbit fur and other materials were used in varying concentrations in the hats. From the Boss of the Plains came many variations involving different creases, heights of crowns, width and shapes of brims, and colors and bands. Cowboy hats varied by geographic regions in the West, along with how they sat on one's head. Other brands joined the market - Resistol, Bailey, Miller and many others. The Western cowboy hat now is recognized around the world as the defining piece of equipment in Western wear...more

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