Cowboys have always worn “cowboy” hats.
Don’t Believe That!
If a true American cowboy from the 19th Century hopped into a time machine and visited us in the present, he would scarcely recognize the modern concept of cowboy attire.
Hats were very common during that period of American history, especially among cowboys, who needed protection from the sun and rain. A variety of different hats were worn by early cowboys, but most common was the derby or “bowler” hat, as can be seen in this photo of five notorious cowboys, including Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Sombreros and even top hats were also popular.
The John B. Stetson Company was founded in 1865. Their original hat, called the “Boss of the Plains,” had a straight-sided crown, flat top and brim. The iconic “cowboy hat” with a curved brim and tall, indented crown would only appear later and was ultimately ingrained in the public consciousness through film and television.
Bonus Fact #1: The Stetson “Ten Gallon Hat” only held about three quarts of water.
Bonus Fact #2: The first Western-genre film was released in the 1890s.