Western Hats: It’s What’s On Top That Counts!

Your Western hat is an investment so you should treat it like one. All too often, our hats are the least attended to item in our Western wardrobe. So let’s talk about selection and care of that iconic piece of headwear.

  • Comfort is important. Fit is very important in choosing your Western hat. It should fit slightly snugly on your head but not so tight as to be uncomfortable. Hats can have slightly different inside shapes; some more oval and some a bit rounder so fit the style that comfortably fits your head.

  • Shape. There are many choices in shape and size of both the brims and the crown of today’s Western hats. Where you plan to wear your hat will help inform your buying decision. Rodeo and bull riders prefer large brim hats with high crowns while Western Pleasure riders prefer more of a cattleman’s style with a shorter, triple creased crown and a narrower brim. One of the main comments from judges is how a rider’s overall impression can be positive or negative based solely on a well shaped or misshapen hat. Make sure your hat is shaped to compliment your face and reflect current show ring trends. Pay attention to how you look in the hat as you shop. The shape of your face can affect how the hat looks on you. Your hat makes a statement; be sure it makes the statement that you want to project.

  • Color. There is a wide selection of Western hat colors in both felt and straw materials. Personal preference will lead you to the ideal color for you, but consider the rest of your wardrobe and where you will be wearing your hat as you make your decision.

  • Storage. Whether your hat is felt or straw, you need to store it properly when not wearing it in order to keep it clean and maintain its shape longer. There are sturdy hat cans that hold 1 or 2 hats for longer storage. You can also place it on a Royal Wire Hat can rack for easy storage where it will not collect dust.


Felt hats do not provide a great look in the show ring, but are often worn as headwear to protect one from the cold and elements of fall and winter. Good felt hats are not inexpensive, so they should be treated as investments and cared for to ensure years of use.

  • What do the X’s mean on a felt hat? The X’s marked on a felt hat are an indication of the quality of the item. 2X has the lowest content of wild fur content in the felt while a 100X has a much higher amount of fur felt. There are even some Western hats with 200X and higher. Wild fur generally consists of wild hare, rabbit, and beaver, as well as wool. The look and feel, as well as the durability of the hat, changes with the number of X’s. A 2X hat is more stiff and rough while a 100X is softer to the touch with a silkier feel and has more resilient life. Generally, the more X’s, the higher the price of the hat. Proper care will help your investment last a long time.

  • Shaping Your Felt Hat. Most reputable tack stores can shape your hat when you purchase it. It may need to be reshaped from time to time, especially if it gets wet or weighted down. Shaping is done by using a steam machine which warms and loosens the fibers slightly. The brim can then be manipulated to the desired shape and held until the fibers completely cool and dry. Sometimes a stiffening spray is used to help the hat retain the new shape longer.

  • Cleaning Your Felt Hat.Keeping your felt hat keeps it looking good. Brim brushes are inexpensive and do a great job of removing dust, hair, and other loose “tidbits” that find their way onto your hat. Brim brushes come in both dark and light bristles. Choose the color bristles that most closely match your hat’s color. Brush lightly, both top and bottom, going clockwise around the hat. There are hat cleaners available if it gets really dirty. White hats can be powdered to clean and brighten them. Be sure to read all label directions to avoid staining. And again, your local tack store can help with cleaning your hat.


“Straw” hats can be shantung, palm leaf, bangora, and a few other synthetics. Whichever you choose, make sure to consider shape, color, and fit.

  • What do the X’s mean on a straw hat? The number of X’s on a straw hat also indicates the quality of the hat, similar to felt hats. There are a lot of processes that natural straw fibers go through before being woven in the making of the hat. The X’s give you an indication of the quality of the fibers themselves as well and the narrowness of the fibers and the tightness of the weave. As with felt hats, generally the higher the number of X’s, the more costly the hat.

  • Shaping Your Straw Hat. As with felt hats, your tack store should be able to shape your new straw hat for you or reshape it if it loses its shape down the road. (But be advised, if your hat gets totally crushed, it may just be time to buy a new one.) Brims can be manipulated to the desired shape and crowns can be sharpened up. As with felt hats, steam is used to soften the fibers and then shaping can be done, keeping the hat in a form until it is completely cool and dry. Stiffeners can also be used to help keep the shape.

  • Cleaning Your Straw Hat. You can brush your straw hat with a small whisk broom or a damp sponge or cloth to remove loose dirt and dust. For a really dirty hat, you can use a cloth dampened with window cleaner or a specialized straw hat cleaner to remove the grime. Try not to saturate the straw. If your hat gets really wet, shake off excess water and dry with a dry cloth. Place it crown down on a flat surface to dry completely. It may need to be reshaped after a thorough soaking.

  • Aug 05, 2020
  • Category: News
  • Comments: 0
Leave a comment
Shopping Cart
No products in the cart.