How Should a Cowboy Hat Fit? Tips on How to Shape a Cowboy Hat & More
Before you head out the door with a Stetson on your mind, it's important to know howto size a cowboy hat so you don't have to make a return trip. We're here to give you afew simple instructions on how to fit a cowboy hat and plenty of tips for how to shapea hat brim or crown to achieve a style that's perfect for you — right in your own home!
How to Measure Your Head for a Cowboy Hat
The easiest way to measure your head is with a cloth measuring tape. If you don't haveone handy, however, you can simply wrap a string around your head and mark the pointwhere it overlaps with a marker. Then, lay the string flat next to a regular measuring tape or yardstick and record how far the mark reaches. To properly measure your head, wrap the string around so it sits about ⅛" above your ears and just above youreyebrows, near the center of your forehead
Keep in mind that hat sizing is not universal; certain brands use different sizing scales than others, so you most likely won't wear the same size across brands. That's why knowing how to measure cowboy hat size is so important. Having a ballpark number in mind will save you time and effort in finding your perfect fit, no matter the brand.
How Should a Cowboy Hat Fit?
Cowboy hats follow the natural shape of your head, so they should fit firmly on yourforehead and the back of your head while feeling a bit looser at the sides. If the hat is too tight, you could wind up getting a headache. If it's too loose, it'll blow off or keep twisting around on your head. If you have your exact measurements on hand, it shouldbe easy to find a comfortable fit. However, if you don't, just see if you can comfortably fit a finger between your head and the cap — this is a quick indicator of a good size!
How to Stretch a Cowboy Hat
Now that you understand how to measure for a cowboy hat, we can tackle some easyways to break it in. The easiest way to stretch out a cowboy hat is to simply wear it. Like any pair of clothes, it will conform to your body over time and become more comfortable every time you put it on. If you want to expedite the process, though, you can use one of these methods:
- The Spray Method: Use a spray bottle to dampen the crown of your hat with lukewarm water. With a hair dryer, blow-dry the hat's exterior until it's only slightly damp. Finally, put your hat on and wear it until it air dries completely.
- The Steam Method: Bring a tea kettle or a pot of water to a boil and hold your hat's crown a few inches away, letting it soak in the steam for one minute. Take it away for a few seconds and repeat the process four times. Next, blow-dry the hat until it's mostly dry and put it on until it air dries.
- The Stretcher Method: If you happen to have (or buy) a hat stretcher tool, simply repeat the first steps of the steam method and place the hat on the stretcher overnight to dry. You can also visit one of our NRS stores, and we will stretch the hat for you!
During this process, be sure not to completely drench your cowboy hat. The dyes could run, and you could damage leather components like the sweatband.
How to Shape a Cowboy Hat
Knowing how to reshape a cowboy hat is important for both aesthetic and practical reasons. At many competitive riding events, hat shape denotes the event a rider will be participating in — it's a regulated part of their uniform, just like jerseys, helmets or cleats in other sports. Even if you aren't a competitive rider, it's a good skill to have to keep your cowboy hat looking as sharp as the day you bought it. Keep in mind: these techniques work best for felt cowboy hats.
How to Shape a Cowboy Hat Crown
Shaping a cowboy hat is all about steam. You can use either a pot or kettle of boiling water, like what you used for stretching, or you can use a clothes iron or other steamer tool, if you have them on hand. To shape the crown of your hat, follow these steps:
- Lightly dampen it with steam and use your fingers to create a shallow crease in the center; you can use the inner seam of the sweatband to guide you,which should be in the middle at the back of the hat.
- Draw your fingers over either side of the center crease to create the two side dimples.
- Continue lightly steaming as needed
- Use hat stiffening spray to help your hat retain the shape you create.
If your hat has some serious wrinkling in the crown, you can also use a hat shaper to smooth it out before getting into the finer details. Don't have a hat shaper? Use a soccerball or other head-sized round object!
How to Shape a Hat Brim
Shaping a hat brim is just as simple as the crown, although you'll want to make sure thateach side is equally curled. Follow these steps to shape your brim:
- Lightly dampen the brim of your hat using steam from a kettle, pot, iron orsteamer.
- Curl each side of the brim to the desired shape and hold them in place for a few moments.
- Check each side to ensure they're even.
- Use hat stiffening spray to help the brim hold its shape.
Remember: If you're ever uncertain about taking on hat shaping on your own, you can always take it to a professional. Many Western wear and horse tack outlets, like NRS, offer hat shaping services. We're equipped with commercial-grade steaming equipment, shaping tools and all the other implements needed to have your cowboy hat looking good as new.