Cowboy Hat vs. Fedora: What's the Difference?

  • , by Alex Torres
  • 3 min reading time

You've probably asked yourself, Cowboy hat vs. fedora, what's the difference between these two hat styles? Even though it's easy to tell the difference in most cases, where exactly do you draw the line?

For instance, what type of hat does Indiana Jones wear? You know the one, it's iconic, always recognizable. If you spotted it, you'd be able to say, “Hey, that's an Indiana Jones hat." Look how smart you are. But you have no idea what type of hat it is, a fedora or cowboy hat.

Right, so we're going to set out to answer that question and settle the lifelong debate. Is it a fedora or cowboy hat? Read on and see.

Cowboy Hats vs. Fedora Hats: Know the Basics

Let's start with the basics. To think of these hats is to consider each as a family. There's a cowboy hat family and fedora family. If we take a peek at a hat's DNA, it derives from some origin and can usually be classified one way or another.

As a general rule, a cowboy hat will have its brim turned up on both sides. Conversely, a fedora will have the back brim down with the front turned up. Simple right? Not so fast.

Horse riding

What's a cowboy hat anyway?

To confuse cowboy hats further, the big hat manufacturers offer a wide range of styles, with minor subtle variations, creating an infinite amount of looks. There are different crown styles and varying brim combinations to create a mere smorgasbord of options.

To make it worse, the cowboy hat has taken a strange leap into a general “Western-style" hat. Whatever that means. Though, a Western hat more accurately describes an entire category, including cowboy hats, gambler hats, and outback hats for starters.

If we're imaging a modern cowboy hat, there's a specific style of hat called the “Cattleman" which is what you'd expect. It's still popular and lots of Texans wear this hat.

Cattleman hat

FEDORA - An easy category

Compared to a cowboy hat, a fedora will have a smaller brim. They also have a stylistic front pinch in the hat, almost like the hat maker pinched his fingers together. Most fedoras also have a wide grosgrain hatband too. It's a wide piece of fabric on the crown, giving it a classic Frank Sinatra look.

There are a variety of fedora options too, like the smaller trilby fedora, but not as many cousins as those Western hats. The top crown can be varying shapes too, from an open, center dent, oval, or teardrop. But thankfully most fedoras look like they're related.

Also, a fedora will have something called a “snap brim." Most fedora brims can be worn up on every side, much like a natural bowler hat. The snap feature is important because it allows you to snap the front brim down into place. Then wear it around like a cool hipster. When you're done and want to store the hat, you can snap the brim back into place, preserving the structure of the hat.

Cowboy hat

VERDICT - NO LONGER - confused

With all that hat knowledge learned in the cowboy hat vs. fedora debate, what kind of hat does Indiana Jones wear? See the front pinch and wide grosgrain hatband? It's a fedora, even though it lacks that snap-brim we talked about. If the brim came up at the sides it would be in cowboy territory, but it doesn't.

More specifically though, it's a high crown, wide brim fedora. So it's official: Indiana Jones is not a cowboy.

New to these Hats? Read our Guide to Get you Started

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