Read an Excerpt
Cowboy's History of the Hat
Hats have always been worn for one of two reasons: either to impress somebody with who you are, or to help you in your work. The first hats seem to have been worn by tribal chiefs to let everybody know they were the boss. Then the spirit guide got into the act of letting everybody know they were in touch with the Big Boss in the Sky.
But, when men and women began to work with the land, they needed something to protect their heads from the elements. It didn't matter what the hat looked like or who it impressedwhich was probably nobody. What mattered was how it worked. And people probably started to have competitions to create the best hats: the biggest, most artistic, best use of natural resourcesthe usual kind of contests. And maybe people became more impressed with the hat as a status symbol than as useful clothing.