So for my other job, I’ve picked up the responsibility for quite a lot of content creation (which is one of the reasons I’ve been posting less around here). More about that in another blog entry, but I end up doing some pretty interesting research for this gig. That research is then processed through my weirdness and comes out witty, interesting, and relatable. Before you know it, you’ve learned something.
Now, I, as the Nomadic Troglodyte, have very strong opinions about hats in general (I may have to do a post about that one time I almost wore a hat in distant church but didn’t, only to find every other woman wearing a hat), but I grew up on horseback and so I have Herculean opinions on cowboy hats. The featured image above is, in fact, me, wearing my favorite cowboy hat. It is very similar to one my oldest brother is wearing in one of the other photos I included, and, in my photographic opinion, is one of the most flattering hats ever invented. I have used it for multiple photoshoots. So there.
Here’s a brief lecture on cowboy hats:
We all recognize it as iconic, and the sight of it inevitably inspires a sense of freedom, determination, and grit. The cowboy hat. How often do we consider where such symbols come from? When I was a kid I never even thought to ask, I just knew three essential truths about wearing a cowboy hat:
- Never touch someone’s hat without permission
- Always set your hat down crown first to save the shape of your brim
- When you put that hat on, you are putting on the responsibility of acting like the cowboy/girl that you were born to be
But when was the cowboy hat invented, anyway? And why? Well, people on horseback have been wearing broad-brimmed hats as far away as Mongolia and as long ago as the 13th century; they are simply a practical necessity for the lifestyle. Nowadays, cowboy hats come in all shapes, materials, and styles. So what bridged the gap between then and now? Or, rather, who? His name was John Batterson Stetson, and the hat was called “Boss of the Plains”. It hit the market in 1865… just in time to replace sombreros and bowler hats during the booming cattle drive era, and that was when it became the recognizable silhouette we know today.
The brim kept the face and neck from getting sunburned, the tall crown kept the top of the head cool during hot cattle drives, and the felt material was high quality and could last through a good deal of hard abuse.
In fact, Stetson Hat Company had an ad that ran in 1924 which showed a horse drinking from his cowboy’s hat to boast that their material was of such fine quality their hats could hold water. Some people think that’s where the expression ‘ten-gallon hat’ came from, but in reality, an average Stetson hat probably holds about 3 quarts of water.
Linguistically, the expression is derived from one of two Spanish phrases. Mexican vaqueros wore braided hatbands called ‘galóns’ in Spanish, and a ‘10 galón’ hat may have been a hat that had a tall enough crown for 10 hatbands. Or the name is a corruption of ‘tan galán’, which roughly translates from Spanish as ‘very gallant’ or ‘really handsome’. It might have been used to describe the hat.
Or the cowboy.
Because, let’s face it, after all these years, they still look really cool. Nothing quite tops the sight of a cowboy pulling his hat down to shade his eyes against the bright mountain sun, and I can hardly describe the comfort my hat has given me while burrowing into my slicker while the cold rain made a waterfall off the front and onto my horse’s neck.
To see the whole post I did for the family business about hats, look here.
I hope all of you learned at least one thing you can use to impress people at your next dinner party. If you’re still coming up empty, refer to not wearing a hat as ‘cranial nudity’. That’ll impress ’em. Better yet, through a party and make hats mandatory. Call it a ‘hat party’. Quit your job and open a hat shop near the coast in England. FILL THE WORLD WITH HATS.
Ahem. Or whatever.