The Hat Makes The Man




As the old cowboy saying goes, ‘It’s the last thing you take off and the first thing that is noticed.’humphreybogart_fedora

Top hats, derbys, tams, fedoras, berets, bowlers – hats do more than cover a man’s head. They make a statement about the wearer.

If I say Bogart, can you see him, fedora pulled down low, collar turned up?

charlie-chaplin_bowlerOr Charlie Chaplin in his bowler?

How about President Abraham Lincoln?abraham-lincoln-top-hat

sean-connery_panamaOr Sean Connery in his Panama?

Hats say a lot about the personality of the man – and some, like President Lincoln’s black stovepipe hat, will be forever linked with the man who wore it.

I believe the most recognizable type of hat, hands down, is the cowboy hat.

Did you see John Wayne in The Quiet Man and wonder where the heck his Stetson was?john-wayne_the-quiet-man

john-wayne_stetsonThere, that’s better.

How about the hat Clint Eastwood wore in Pale Rider? clint-eastwood_pale-rider

John Stetson was the creator of what we think of today as the cowboy hat. The son of a master hatter, John made his first cowboy hat as a demonstration to his buddies about making felt from fur. The wide-brimmed hat was so useful in keeping off the sun and rain, his companions wanted one of their own. And an empire was born.

Stetsonboss-of-the-plains-hat_real started his company in 1865. By 1866, the “Hat of the West” or “Boss of the Plains” set the John B. Stetson Company on the path to becoming the most famous hat in the world. Originally sold in one grade (2 ounce feldudes-in-boss-of-the-plainst) and one color (natural), that original Stetson hat sold for five dollars. The equivalent hat today would cost close to $1,000.

Check out these two Montana dudes (1885) in their brand new Stetson ‘Boss of the Plains.’ The guy on the left is wearing Levi’s.


Made of a blend of rabbit, wild hare and beaver fur, today’s Stetson sets the mark for cowboy hats. You can get your Stetson in felt or straw, black, white, grey, tan; choose your style, for casual or dress, for outside wear or for going to church.

If you want to see how these famous hats are made, visit and click on the “The Making of a Stetson Hat” from the list on the left.

Stetson isn’t the only hat maker in the U.S. In Dallas in 1927, the Byer-Rolnick company began making the Resistol hats, so named because they were made to “resist all weather.”

But Stetson is the name most associated with the west.

Here’s some eye-candy, just because.

ed-harris_appaloosa     dean_martin_rio_bravo_1959   kenny-chesney

garth-brooks   christian-bale

russell-crowe   george-strait   tim-mcgraw


“Even after the wild aspect of the West was somewhat tamed, the cowboy hat never really lost its ability to lend that reckless and rugged aura to its wearer.”



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22 thoughts on “The Hat Makes The Man”

  1. Fun post, Tracy. There is something about a man in a Stetson, isn’t there? Especially one that’s been fully broken in, a litte dusty, shaped just right to show his rugged personality. Thanks for the historical sketch and the great photo examples. I made sure to examine them closely – purely for research purposes, of course.

  2. I love a man in a hat,all those stetsons look great with the man underneath them,lol,baseball caps arent the same,theres just something about a man in a stetson!

  3. Tracy, loved your blog. I can look at men in hats (especially cowboys) all day long. There’s just something about a man in a hat. I think it gives him an air of mystery or something. I’m partial to Stetsons although my dad wore a fedora. I can still see him it when I close my eyes. I really wish hats would come back in style. They just add a special touch to a man.

  4. Tracy, I agree wholeheartedly – there’s just something about those men in cowboy hats. Although I will speak up for the baseball cap – the hat of preference for my cattle rancher hubby. He has dozens of them lying around the house with evey kind of feed store, fertilizer company, auction house logo you can think of. He never leaves home without one, except for ‘dress up’ occassions like church, and I have to say I love seeing him wear one

  5. Hi Tracy, fabulous post! And thanks for including the pic of Tim McG. The way he tilts his head to peek out from under that brim, yowza.

    I did a blog on Abe Lincoln last Feb. and learned he often stored important letters and papers in his stovepipe hat. Too funny.

    Good stuff, Tracy. Thanks. oxoxoxox And yes, the eye candy does indeed need another gaze. Sigh.

  6. Tanya,
    I didn’t know that, but it makes sense. Cowboys kept stuff under their chapeaus, didn’t they?

    And you and Pat enjoy the candy as much as you want. That’s why its there.

  7. Love any man in a stetson. My 6’8 son inherited a wonderful black stetson and wore it completely out. Love his new one!

  8. Oh Tracy all those good lookin guys in there hats.. they got me all tingley,, espcially John Wayne, George Strait… And Sean in the still my heart…
    Great Post..

  9. Nice post. Will have to click on the “how they make stetsons” site for my grandson. He’ll enjoy it. This site is all mine.

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