American Hats Shift in Style and Glory

A cowboy hat is held up as people wait for the arrival of U.S. President Donald Trump for his campaign event at Miami-Opa Locka Executive Airport on November 1, 2020 in Opa Locka, Florida. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
A cowboy hat is held up as people wait for the arrival of U.S. President Donald Trump for his campaign event at Miami-Opa Locka Executive Airport on November 1, 2020 in Opa Locka, Florida. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Although the Met Gala returned in all its splendor and glory, American hats changed post insurrection.

Jlos women's leather cowboy hat
NEW YORK, NEW YORK – SEPTEMBER 13: Jennifer Lopez attends The 2021 Met Gala Celebrating In America: A Lexicon Of Fashion at Metropolitan Museum of Art on September 13, 2021 in New York City. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for The Met Museum/Vogue )

Celebrities paid tributes to American style. But not by wearing Stars and Stripes. Jennifer Lopez wore a brown leather cowboy hat instead.

Others embraced Americana through a classic Hollywood aesthetic.

Tessa Thompson in a black braided cowboy hat The 2021 Met Gala.
Tessa Thompson attends The 2021 Met Gala Celebrating In America: A Lexicon Of Fashion at Metropolitan Museum of Art on September 13, 2021 in New York City. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for The Met Museum/Vogue )


But one thing was noticeably absent. And that one thing speaks volumes about how hats and style has changed. As the result of failed coup d’état on January 6, former president Trump and his followers have made the American flag unsafe for liberals.

This is a hat blog. Before I suggest what that means for Uncle Sam, let’s explore the idea of exactly what constitutes an American hat.

What is an American Hat?

U.S. President Donald Trump puts on a Stetson cowboy hat
WASHINGTON, DC – JULY 17: U.S. President Donald Trump puts on a Stetson cowboy hat while touring a Made in America product showcase in the East Room of the White House. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)


Fortunately, mens cowboy hats are still safe for liberals and conservatives alike. Felt cowboy hats are famously American-made. Heritage brand Stetson was the first American hat company to produce this tall crown, sturdy hat style. 

Many famous Americans have sported these hats throughout the years including former presidents Ronald Reagan, Jimmy Carter, and JFK.

But they’re not the only hats we tend to associate with America. Abe Lincoln wore a tall black top hat. Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn wore straw sun hats with frayed brims. And Uncle Sam wears a American flag wrapped top hat.

A woman wears American flag glasses and an Uncle Sam hat
A woman wears American flag glasses and an Uncle Sam hat during the Tea Party Express tour kick-off on August 27, 2011 in Napa, California. Hundreds of people were in attendance as the Tea Party Express kicked off the \”Reclaiming America\” bus tour. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)


At the Met Gala Tessa Thompson went with a divine, braided black straw hat with a cute low-pony tail hairstyle.

Cam Newton wore an open crown cowboy hat at Met Gala
Cam Newton wore an open crown cowboy hat (aka Montana Perak) with pearls at the Met Gala. (Photo by Theo Wargo/WireImage).


The Cam Newton hat we saw at the Met Gala was an open crown black felt hat with an extra tall profile, wide brim and a draped, pearl beaded hat band.

Marcus Samuelsson in a fedora with a red under brim at the 2021 Met Gala
Marcus Samuelsson attends the 2021 Met Gala benefit \”In America: A Lexicon of Fashion\” at Metropolitan Museum of Art on September 13, 2021 in New York City. (Photo by Taylor Hill/WireImage)


And Marcus Samuelsson wore a fedora with a red bottom brim. Mens felt fedoras with contrasting edge trim are all the rage right now.

But no one wore an American flag hat, or anything else adorned with the star-spangled banner.

American Made Hats

Hats don’t owe their value to those who have worn it, because that would make it almost exclusive to them. What’s special about the Stetson and other Western hats is that they’re American made and by an American hat company. 

Naked Cowboy beside the American flag in New York\'s Time Square.
Naked Cowboy beside the American flag in New York\’s Time Square.


As with all accessories, American hats are worn to make a statement. The cowboy hat says “I am American.” It acknowledges the past through the felt or straw it is crafted from.

Lil Nas X and Cardi B showed their way of how to wear a cowboy hat. And in so doing, inscribed their names into the American narrative.

Lil Nas X in a pink cowboy hat at the 62nd Annual GRAMMY Awards
Lil Nas X, awarded Best Music Video and Best Pop Duo/Group Performance for “Old Town Road (feat. Billy Ray Cyrus)” and Album of the Year at the 62nd Annual GRAMMY Awards. (Photo by Steve Granitz/WireImage)


The fashion realm brought back the look when black-owned label Pyer Moss put cool cowboy hats on the runway in 2018. It also featured the Compton Cowboys in separate occasions. This proved that whoever wore the hat, be it an American president or a celebrity onstage, made the proclamation of their national identity. In the age of cultural appropriation, there is nothing politically incorrect about donning the cowboy hat. On the other hand, the same can not be said of MAGA hats.

Rapper Kanye West in a MAGA hat at a meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump
Rapper Kanye West in a MAGA hat at a meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump in the Oval office of the White House on October 11, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Oliver Contreras – Pool/Getty Images)

American Flag Hats

Uncle Sam wore the colors of the American flag, a blue blazer with a red lapel, a white shirt, and star-spangled top hat. On July 4th, Uncle Sam’s hat is still worn as an act of patriotism. Will liberals feel safe to wear star-spangled top hats without getting cancelled next year? The jury is out.

American child wearing a straw boater hat and sitting on a stack of books fishes
circa 1925: American child wearing a straw hat and sitting on a stack of books fishes in a lake with a makeshift rod made out of a tree branch. (Photo by Edwin Levick/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)


More American Hats

Other hats considered distinctly American include trucker hats, leather patch hats, newsboy caps and baseball caps. Interestingly enough, the baseball caps were originally made from straw.

Though they evolve in style, the American hat is defined by a certain look and is tied to stories of the past. Hats do not only serve a practical purpose, but are used to send messages and make statements. They are made popular by cultures and communities that wear them. 

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