Seven Rules of Cowboy Hat Etiquette

VetschcowboyhatJohn Wayne, Roy Rogers, Tom Mix, James Arness. Epic cowboy actors all. When you call them to your mind, what are they all wearing?

A cowboy hat! The iconic image of the Old West.

Though there are many different styles of cowboy hat, they all mark the wearer as a cowboy. From a ten-gallon, to a wide-awake, to a silver-belly, they’re all cowboy hats. But are you aware that there is a certain code, an etiquette if you will, to wearing one?


Doing a basic search of cowboy hat etiquette turned up lots of rules and requirements, and I’ve distilled it down to seven that seemed fairly consistent.








Here are Seven Rules of Cowboy Hat etiquette:


Rule 1: Always remove your hat when you enter a place where people live. It’s fine to keep it on when you enter a public building like a bank or store. Exceptions are churches and courtrooms.


Rule 2: The first time you meet a lady take your hat off when you say howdy. After that, it’s fine to tip your hat to her.


Rule 3: Never let your hat touch your bed. It’s bad luck.


Rule 4: Rest your hat on the crown. The crown will hold its shape better than if you rest it on the brim. Also, if any good luck falls your way, it might land in your upturned hat.


Rule 5: Keep your hands off anyone else’s hat. Touching someone else’s hat is a serious fight-starting move.


Rule 6: Never tip your hat to another man. It’s like calling the fellow a girlie-boy.


Rule 7: Never show the inside of your hat while you’re holding it. Hold it against your chest or your leg.


Follow these rules, and you’ll never be considered a rude buckaroo!


Vetsch headshotevetsch-5Author Bio: Erica Vetsch is a transplanted Kansan now residing in Minnesota. She loves history and romance, and is blessed to be able to combine the two by writing historical romances. Whenever she’s not immersed in fictional worlds, she’s the company bookkeeper for the family lumber business, mother of two, wife to a man who is her total opposite and soul-mate, and avid museum patron.



VetschCactusCreekChallenge_F-page-001About the book: Anything he can do, I can do better. At least that was what Cassie Bucknell thought before she pinned on Ben Wilder’s badge and took to patrolling the streets of Cactus Creek, Texas. Cassie has been in love with Ben since primer school, but Ben treats her like a little sister. When they are picked to swap jobs for a month as part of the annual Cactus Creek Challenge in their Texas hometown, the schoolhouse is thrown into an uproar, the jail becomes a temporary bank vault, and Cassie and Ben square off in a battle of wills that becomes a battle for their hearts.



I’d love to give a copy of The Cactus Creek Challenge to one US resident who comments on the blog.


Here is the Buy Link:


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  1. I love your post! Good cowboys and good cowboys certainly ought to know the rules of cowboy hat etiquette. Nothing like a cowboy with that hat setting just right!!!

  2. Loved the post Erica. I had heard some of these rules but not all. Thank you for sharing. I would love to be entered in your giveaway!

    Smiles & Blessings,
    Cindy W.

    countrybear52 AT yahoo DOT com

    • Hi, Cindy, I was surprised at how many of the rules I found on various sites were different. Maybe it’s a regional thing? These are just the top few that I found that were the most consistent from site to site.

  3. Wow! Some I kind of knew but the rest I did not! Very interesting post Erica! Thank you for sharing! Jenny
    jennydtipton at gmail dot com

    • Hi, Jennifer, I think my favorite is the one about not letting your hat touch your bed. There is an old episode of The Big Valley where Heath Barkley is in jail and he goes to throw his hat on the bed and then pulls it back and said something like, “Better not, it’s bad luck.” 🙂

    • Hi, DebraG,

      I agree! Several of these made sense to me once I read them because I have seen men follow them. The rule about not showing anyone the inside of your hat, for instance. Men tend to hold their hat against their chest or leg when talking, and it is always ‘inside-in.’ 🙂

  4. Erica, I’m with Mary. Now I need to rewrite a few scenes. Who woulda thunk there were so many rules for cowboy hat etiquette! I’ve already bought and read The Cactus Creek Challenge. Loved the sparks that flew between Cassie and Ben before he finally figured out he loved her. Switching jobs for a month put a little humble in his pie. You’re now on my “must-read” author list. 🙂

    • Hi, Barbara!

      Thank you so much for your kind words about The Cactus Creek Challenge. I had a blast writing it and letting my zany side loose for awhile. 🙂

    • Hi, Janine,

      I love turning up new-to-me tidbits that can liven up a story and give it authenticity. I also love that there is a whole ‘cowboy culture’ to draw on for westerns. Cowboys and the Code of the West are America’s version of Knights and Chivalry.

    • Hi, Chris! I always wondered about the setting the hat on the crown. While reading one of Craig Johnson’s Longmire mysteries, I read about Walt setting his hat brim up to catch any extra luck that might fall into it. I thought that was charming and fun. 🙂

  5. very interesting post,some of those I was aware of ,but some i wasnt,,glad to know there is rules of the donning of a cowboy hat

    • Hi, Vickie! I am wondering now if there are rules for other cowboy accoutrements. Boots, chaps, etc. I know there are rules about horses and ropes. Might make a fun post someday.

  6. Welcome to Wildflower Junction, Erica! Fun post–and I love the premise for your Cactus Creek Challenge! Sounds like you had a lot of fun writing it, and it will be a good read.

  7. It was very interesting learning about the cowboy’s hat. Your book sounds interesting and something I would like to read.

  8. Thanks, Erica. I’ll look for these rules as I edit historicals and will make sure I don’t make these same mistakes in my own cowboy stories. I’ve always wondered why people rested their hats upside down–now I know.

  9. Fun & interesting nuggets here–thanks for sharing. I never really thought about hat rules, other than don’t wear them in church–actually I thought they weren’t supposed to be worn inside ANY building…
    I would LOVE to be in the drawing for your book–it sounds like fun!

  10. I enjoyed the hat etiquette rules, Erica.The one that I didn’t know was why a cowboy doesn’t tip his hat to another cowboy. NOW I know. Won’t question that one.
    I’m looking forward to reading “The Cactus Creek Challenge.”

  11. Also, be sure you don’t put it on backwards. Not that any cowboy would do that, but I’ve been corrected a few times because I didn’t pay attention to the way the top is creased. It’s not always apparent to me which is the front, but my personal cowboy friend keeps me straight. LOL

  12. Very interesting rules. I own a cowboy hat now but did not grow up wearing one. I did wear caps a lot and still do. I think the same rules apply to caps. I was always taught to remove my cap (hat) when I was indoors, but especially in church and when we sat down to eat. It seems a lot of men were never taught that as I see men in restaurants practically every time I go who are eating with caps on their heads. It’s no longer unusual to see them wearing caps in church. I think it shows a gross lack of respect, but I guess I’m old-fashioned.

  13. Hey Erica,
    I enjoyed your cowboy hat etiquette. I’ll be sure to follow the rules as I write my books from here on out. I’d love to read your new book. it sounds like a fun one.

  14. I am looking forward to reading “The Cactus Creek Challenge.” “The Cactus Creek Challenge.” sounds wonderful. Please enter me in contest. Thank you for the opportunity to win.

  15. Interesting list for hat etiquette. They all make perfect sense. I do however take issue with not taking a hat off inside a building. We were a military family for 24 years, and the etiquette there is you will remove your hat upon entering a building. One has to wonder about #3. How did the hat touching the bed ever turn into bad luck?

    I like the premise of your book, THE CACTUS CREEK CHALLENGE. Trading jobs for a day isn’t too uncommon, but for a month, that is another story. It sounds like two fish out of water situations. It should be an interesting, fun read. I hope the book does well for you.

  16. Hi there , I wasn’t aware of some of these cowboy etiquettes , especially the no cowboy hat on the bed one. I enjoyed learning these ! A handsome cowboy with a hat set at the right angle, now that’s swoon worthy !
    Hank you for the giveaway opportunity . I sure am looking forward to reading your new book and I love the title by the way !

  17. Thanks for the post on cowboy hats. I especially thought the one about setting your hat crown side down was interesting. I have never heard of that!

  18. Great list of hat rules. I have one of my dad’s old work cowboy hats on my desk shelf above me, but it’s crown down, so I remember how it used to look on him.
    Great cover too!

  19. My daughter has a bright pink cowboy hat, our rule? It cant be on the floor where ill step on it. 🙂

  20. I loved reading about the cowboy hat etiquette. I didn’t know all of the rules, but I did know some. Thank you for the chance to win a copy of your book.

  21. Now I did know some of these rules but learn a couple. Thanks for sharing Erica. Would love to have a chance to read your book.

  22. I knew a couple, especially resting it on its crown. My cowboy says those folks that don’t know that, aren’t real cowboys!

  23. Hi Erica – Thanks for the post & visiting P&P. So many rules for cowboy hats. But, what about the kind of hat you wear to events & everyday??? More rules no doubt. Thanks, for the chance to win.

  24. That is so interesting! A friend of mine bought one a few years ago, so I’ll let him know if he makes a mistake lol. I’m always interested in learning about different etiquette methods just for the sake of “fun facts” and it never ceases to amaze me just how much I can remember! Thank you so much for this post and I’ll definitely take a gander at your book:)

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