Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Cowboy Hats - Facts, Folklore, and Fables

Cowboy Hat
I love wearing cowboy hats.  Partly it's a guy thing, but they're super functional for keeping the sun off my face.  And they make a pretty good fashion statement.  I've collected a few on my travels and seem to get a new one each time I go out west.  While wearing a baseball hat may be a fashion standard in New England during the summer months, cowboy hats are a year round standard in certain parts of the west.  Out in the rural areas of states like Arizona, Texas, New Mexico, Colorado, and Wyoming where the sun is intense year round, cowboy hats are much more prevalent than baseball hats.


While in Texas recently, I acquired a straw Stetson to add to my collection.  A 10X Stetson Lobo.  While purchasing this latest one in Canyon Texas, I happened to get an education from a local retailer on some of the definitions, traditions and folklore of cowboy hats.  Turns out there was a lot I didn't know about cowboy hats so I though I'd share what I learned.  Some are facts, some are folklore, and some may be fables.

There are Seasons for Different Types of Hats
Felt hats are usually worn from Labor Day through to Easter.  These hats are made with wool and beaver fur.  They are warmer and repel water which comes in handy during the winter and spring months.  They are also the type of hat worn on special occasions or when you're dressing up.  Straw hat season takes over after Easter when the weather stars getting hot and you need a cooler hat. Their function is shade and cooling.  They're less formal than felt hats.

The Number of X's is a Measure of Quality
The number of X's shown on the hat band on a felt hat size indicates its beaver fur content, not its size.  A 10X has more beaver fur than a 6X.  More X's equates to more water repellency and cost.  A 10X hat will retain its shape in a rain storm. In a straw hat, the number of X's indicate the tightness and fine quality of its weave.  The new Stetson I bought is a 10X weave.  The Resistol that I've been wearing is a 7X.

The Creases all Have Names
The way you crease your hat has a name and it depicts your style.  I always thought how the hat was creased was just a random fashion statement, but I found that the creases all have names and are indicative of a certain style.  I like a Cattleman crease.  But there are other creases like, punch, minnick, brick, gambler, Gus, and bull rider.  For some brands, you can buy an uncreased hat and have it creased the way you want.  Here's a sample of some creases.


Cowboy Hats Can Be Worn Inside
Much like base ball hats, cowboy hats can be worn inside public places like restaurants and stores.  Removing a hat is a sign of respect and usually done when being introduced or saying good bye or when talking to a woman, older person, or clergy member.  Its also removed for the National Anthem and at burials. Tipping your hat is done when you're acknowledging or showing courtesy to a stranger.

Rest a Hat Brim Side Up
When you do take your hat off, don't place it with the brim down on a flat surface. The brim will start to loose its shape if you do this.  Instead, place it with the brim up resting it on its crease.  This also lets the inside of the hat dry and it lets the hat "catch luck" inside of it.

And that gets me to some of the folklore of cowboy hats.  First, never place your cowboy hat on a bed.  This will bring bad luck to the owner of the hat.  Purposely knocking off someones cowboy hat is a fighting offense.

And finally, never wear someone else's hat.  Letting a woman wear your hat indicates that you plan on taking her home.  And if a woman takes off your cowboy hat, then she plans on taking off more of your attire at a latter time.

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