How to Wear a Cowboy Hat

“You can spot a rodeo cowboy, a ranching cowboy or a weekend cowboy by looking at their hats,” says Dusty LaValley (pictured above). He knows whereof he speaks: As the 2006 and 2007 Canadian bareback riding champion – staying on a bucking horse with no saddle, and only a tiny suitcase-like handle to hold onto – LaValley’s got no shortage of cowboy cred. With Stampede underway and the “weekend cowboys” out in full effect, we asked LaValley for some tips on cowboy hat etiquette.

1. Shape your hat so the side brims flare upward and the front brim comes slightly downward to keep the sun off your face.

2. “Don’t be a Terri Clark.” Which means: Don’t tilt your hat so far forward that you have to tip your head up to see anyone.

3. “Make sure that hat fits comfortably, like a well-loved baseball cap would.” If it feels awkward, it probably looks awkward.

4. Don’t cheap out. LaValley says, “I’m sworn to my Resistol 20X,” a durable fur felt hat that costs $400.

5. Straw works, too. It’s cooler and cheaper but still authentic; LaValley may even compete in one this week.

6. Dress the part. Wrangler jeans and cowboy boots work. (Capri pants do not.)

7. Shop at a proper cowboy store, like Smithbilt Hats (1103 12 St. SE, 403-244-9131) or Lammle’s Western Wear & Tack (multiple locations).

Dusty LaValley will be competing at the Calgary Stampede in the bareback competition on July 7, 8 and 9.

CPRA/Northlands photo by Mike Copeman


1 thought on “How to Wear a Cowboy Hat”

  1. Which way is the front and which way is the back of a cowboy hat?
    Which way does the “bow” go?
    Thank you!!!

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