How to Fit a Cowboy Hat

How to Fit a Cowboy Hat

Posted by Green Mountain Horse & Tack on 29th May 2022

Buying a cowboy hat online can be a bit tricky. The problem, of course, is that you cannot try it on before you buy it. Now if you already know a particular brand, and which size from that brand fits you successfully, you’re probably good to go if you can purchase the same size from the same brand. But if you don’t have this history with the brand, we can give you a solid starting point that has a very good likelihood to successfully determine your hat size and purchase the right size hat for you head. This article will give you instruction on how to successfully measure you head for your hat size and give you some tips on successfully fitting your hat when you receive it from us.

Properly fitting a hat correctly is accomplished first by measuring the circumference of your head. With a seamstress tape, measure about an inch above your ear around your head. This will give you a starting point to start trying on hats.

measuring your head for a cowboy hat chart


Now keep in mind that the measurement of your head is a starting point. The correct size can differ based on the material thickness of the sweatband and the specific oval shape dimensions that a particular manufacturer uses to construct the hat. The most common shapes you’ll find on the market are called “regular oval” and “long oval”. The vast majority of hats produced today are based on the regular oval, because most heads work well into this shape. A minority of folks have a slight elongation of the oval shape of their head and are best fitted into a long oval hat. But don’t focus too much on this – chances are good that you’ll be fine with a regular oval.

Custom hat makers can, for a sizable sum, create a hat for your personal head shape, and will typically use a device called a Conformateur to measure the exact shape of your head for a perfect fit when creating a custom hat. Custom hats are great, but you’ll be dishing out significant money for one. Most independent hat makers will not make a custom hat unless it is a very nice hat – 50% or 100% beaver – and you’re looking well into $1200 and up at the time of this writing.

So, now that all those details are out of the way, let’s measure your head. You’ll need a flexible sewing tape measure and either another person to do the measuring, or it can easily done by yourself standing in front of a mirror. Looking straight ahead (not tilting your head), run the tape around the circumference of your head at about an inch above your ears and keep the tape parallel to the floor. Take not of the measurement, which for an adult will be somewhere between 20 to 25 inches. Use the sizing chart to the right to determine your hat size.

Now let’s talk about finalizing the fit after you receive your hat. To begin with, exactly how should a proper hat fit feel on your head? Cowboy hats should fit snugly, as you don't want it to fly off your head in a stiff wind. With the hat on your head, try rapidly shaking your head – it should not shift. Bend over to see how secure the hat is – it should not fall off. A word of caution though: if you have a long, thick and gorgeous mane, this can absolutely interfere with the security of your hat, especially in the bending over test. This is just the way it is. I know in the show ring, many lady-competitors will be found using bobby-pins to secure their hat to their head so they don’t lose it in the ring. So, if you do have long hair, just be prepared to hold your hat down if you feel a gust coming on.

If the fit is good, the hat will not feel like it is at risk of flying off. But it should not be so tight that you feel like your head is in a vice – and there should not be a red line across your forehead when the hat is removed, a sure sign that the hat is fitting a bit too tight on your head. Having said that, some folks like a super tight-fitting hat, especially if they're actively working in the hat or in a windy environment. Again, the conditions in which you wear the hat can help dictate the tightness of the fit and never forget - it’s your hat on your head, so it’s completely up to you as to how tight you want it to fit. But most folks want their hats to feel snug and secure but should not feel uncomfortably tight around your head.

Many times, when you put a new hat on, it fits well in the front and back, but there are gaps between your head and the hat on the sides – or fits well on the sides and the gaps are in the front and back. There is a great solution for this that we use on at least 50% of our hat customers that cause them to grin and say “that’s perfect!”. And better yet, the solution is inexpensive and easily available just down the road at your local hardware store – foam insulation tape. Cut two strips, about 2-3 inches in length and place them in between the sweatband and the hat. You fill the gaps, and your hat fit suddenly feels right. We give this stuff away like crazy to “custom fit” our non-custom fit hats all day long.

Now let’s address if the opposite occurs – the hat fits well on the sides, but is a bit too tight on the front and the back (or vice-versa). Get out your teapot, or a small pot filled ¾ with water, and turn up the heat. Or, if you have a hand-held clothing steamer, this will meet the task even better. As the water boils and the produces steam, carefully steam the area where the brim meets the crown – you can flip the sweatband out to really get the hat material hot and moist.

With the heat applied, flip the sweatband back inside. Grip the hat with both hands, fingers inside the crown opposite each other on the areas that are too tight (font and back or the two sides). Gently pull the two sides apart and hold. Don’t get too aggressive – you will notice that if overdone, the flange of the brim will start to distort a bit. It’s better to do this gently in multiple applications than to do it aggressively one or two times. After achieving what you believe is a suitable modification, steam it good one last time, let it cool for about a few seconds and then put it on your head and let it cool out – just make sure it is not too hot for your skin before you put it on. As it cools, your head will help train it into the shape of your head.

As you wear your hat, you may notice that after. Your hat has been sitting for a day or two, you may notice that it feels tight when you put it on again. Do not be concerned with this, as this is completely normal. This is a common curiosity with new cowboy hat owners. As you wear the hat, the sweatband heats up and loosens up, expanding a bit and conforming to the shape of your hat. After you take it off and let it rest, the sweatband cools and tightens back up. When you put it back on your head, it will often be tight but, thankfully, after a very brief period of time, the sweatband will warm back up and will feel just right again.
We hope this article will help you select the right hat size and trim it up after you receive it so that it stays on your head comfortably for years to come. Hats are meant to be worn and to be worn, they have to be comfortable.

If you receive your hat and have any concerns whatsoever, please contact our hat expert at [email protected] and he’ll be more than happy to help you so you can carry on the cowboy hat tradition and honor those cattlemen, miners, ranchers and pioneers that helped build our country.