Along the Natchez Trace

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Old Hat?

I see from the photos in the blogs I read that this won't be anything a lot of you don't already know.  All about cowboy hats....

Bill has 2 hats...  a straw summer hat and a felt winter one.  The summer ones get a lot of use...  and he wears those out a lot faster... but even at that his straw hats can last several years.

It's the winter hat that I like so much.  Not only is the color just right, but he has a turquoise hatband that makes it look just perfect.  The felt hat doesn't get worn for "work" ...  while we really don't "dress up", even a trip to Wal-Mart warrants wearing this one.

Just in case you've never bought a cowboy hat, below is the way they are sold:

The “X” markings in a  felt cowboy hats indicates how much fur content is included in the fur blend used to make the cowboy hat. The more wild fur included in the fur blend used to make the cowboy hat, the higher the “X” marking for that cowboy hat.
A  2X hat has the lowest content of fur felt for a cowboy hat - a 100X cowboy hat has a much higher content of fur felt. Fur felt cowboy hats are also available in 200X and up.
The price of the hat is also reflected in the “X” content of the felt cowboy hat. The differnce can also be "felt" in the feel and look of the cowboy hat.
A 2X felt will have a rough and stiffer feel and look vs a 100X which will have a soft silky feel and look.
Wild fur in a cowboy hat consists of a blend of wild hare, wild rabbit, beaver fur as well as wool blends.
Now some our  cowboy hat  manufacturers are including the “X” marking on their  straw cowboy hatsThe higher the “X” marking the better quality of the straw cowboy hat.
All natural straw materials are from plants that are grown and cultivated at the proper time. The straws need to be prepared properly before the weaving process begins. Some process include stripping, washing, cooking, dyeing, and drying.
Different woven straws include shantung panama  straw cowboy hats, palm leaf straw cowboy hat, bangora straw cowboy hat, Guatemalan palm straw cowboy hat and treated Mexican palm straw cowboy hats.
So in shopping for a new felt or straw cowboy hat, remember to look at the”X” content in the hat.
You will notice the difference in the felt or straw cowboy hat!  (Shepler's Website)

The band inside Bill's hat has been replaced, but it's a Stetson, and we think it is a 10X. When hats are new they have no real shape to the crown... just a rounded top. This gives a guy (or gal) the opportunity to select a style that suits them. You've all seen hats in the movies... everything from the Tom Mix style to the Roy Rogers shape to the way Hoss Cartwright wore his hat. Ever wonder how they get that way?

Well, Bill bought this particular hat at the Man's Hat Shop in Albuquerque, NM in 2006. Over the years it's kinda lost it's shape. We found a western store in Granbury today that sells hats...

And, even more important... 
They shape them to your specifications.
Here's the owner of the shop... he's looking at the brim to see what needs to be done..

That silver cylinder on the counter is the steamer...
The steam adds just enough warm moisture to be able to curl, crease or otherwise shape that felt.
With a few puffs of steam and some expert shaping, Bill's hat is back to way he likes it.
The man told us that straw hats can be re-shaped but are much harder to do because of that "lacquer-like" coating most of them have.

Bill doesn't like the brim to curl up high...  and he doesn't want it to be flat...  and here, it is just right!

As we were driving home I got to thinking about hats and hat shops.  My Dad wore a fedora... always.  About once a year he'd take it uptown to the hat shop (which was also the shoe repair shop) and have it cleaned and blocked.  (more often if the dog got a hold of it).  He'd wear the same hat for years.  I have a feeling that in the east hat shops that clean and block are history.  But here in the west, you can not only find the hat you want, but you can have it shaped exactly to your taste.

And they can make an old hat look good as new!

That's All For Today!


  1. It just amazes me how much there is to buying the perfect cowboy hat. We learned about them the first year we went to the Houston Rodeo. It is like a pair of shoes. It just has to feel perfect.

  2. I will try to remember this when I buy my next cowboy hat:)

  3. That's pretty interesting! The hat looks good!

  4. I've never worn a hat outside of a wool one to stay warm. thanks for teaching me about what the "X" factor means and the reshaping with steam. I read about how to make them once, thinking maybe I'd do that, but I never did.

  5. Oh my. I don't think I've ever spent more than ten seconds thinking about hats. :)

  6. I have my old straw hats that I like to wear, my good felt hats have been packed away for years. Interesting posting.

  7. The S.O. used to get a straw hat for his summer hat, but a few years ago switched over to this weird item I refer to as "the David Cosby" or "aging hippie" head covering. It does have the benefit of being washable. As long as he doesn't start wearing one of those weird old man hats (flat cap) I'm happy with whatever goes on his head. But you know those flat caps? They're actually what comes up if you Google "old man hat." It's as though buying one is the official announcement a man has gone from aging to ancient.

  8. That's interesting about re-shaping hats. I'll have to keep that in mind. Easier to re-shape a hat than a head for sure.

  9. I remember Mom taking Dad's fedora to the cleaner every year, along with winter coats.

  10. Very interesting - I think my dad wore a hat, too, when I was young, but I don't have a real memory of it. It's nice to know if you spend good money on a western hat, and they can be really expensive, you can always have it re-shaped again. :)

  11. My cowboy's hat is really, really in need of a cleaning--too many ATV rides in the desert!! He has a newer custom made one but that is his "Sunday" hat and he rarely wears it. He's a polite cowboy--if it's a bar, he leaves his hat on, if it's a restaurant he takes his hat off--and usually there is no place to put the hat--thus he rarely wears his good one!