Positively the most distinguishing piece of a cowboy was his cap. With wide brims and tall crowns, little else came close in terms of head attire. For the carrier, the most essential item of dress would be his custom cowboy hats.
It has been predicted that the garb derived from the enormous hats shown off by the Mongol cavaliers and is comparable to a Mexican sombrero. The head apparel matched with other elements of the cowman’s working paraphernalia can be chased back to gear that the Spanish carried over to America. At the same time long horn oxen were transported to the kingdom by Christopher Columbus during one of his expeditions.
The style of the accessory varied throughout the country mostly due to climate changes. Generally, the further south a person traveled, the wider the brim became. Large brims and sombreros provided relief from the hot, sunny hours on horseback in the southwest.
One of the first places to obtain the items in the old west was the Montgomery Ward catalog in the 1870s. During this time various outfitters offered different styles and in 1878 the planters was introduced. It was created in dowdy colors and made out of either Saxony wool or Cassimere fur felt. The offering was limited which possibly meant that they were not particularly popular.
Extreme climate deviations and high gusts in the north meant cowboys required something diverse to what their southern counterparts had. Head wear in this region was made from hefty felt and delivered insulation from hotness and cold in turn. With time and deterioration, hats would assume their own forms and individuality owing to a wearer’s crumpling and fidgeting. They were deemed prized possessions.
Counties seemed to command the design of ridge shapes and peak creases. This meant one could frequently tell where a cowhand worked merely from the outline and selection of his hat. Throughout the later years, the Stetson Corporation understood that molded head attire was the style and decided to produce a collection of pre-shaped garb by the likes of Austin, Bronco, Carp, Carlsbad or Dakota.
Montgomery Wards and Sears Roebuck Company offered ranges right through to the early 1900s. Sears carried the Chief Moses which was a bulky item with an assortment of lively red stars. These stars could be assembled however the cowhand deemed fit to design a work of art. Custom cowboy hats stood as a practice of identity.
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