A cowboy hat isn’t just something that sits on your noggin keeping the sun, rain and snow off. It says something about you. It’s a personal statement — an emblem you wear with pride.

Or at least it is to some folks, like cowboys (in real life and in the movies). In the old days, working cowboys could often tell what ranch a cowboy was from just by looking at the crease in the crown of his hat.

Think of cowboy hat shaping in baseball cap terms. If you’re a professional baseball player, you’re going to be pretty particular about the cap you wear for game day. Same thing goes for rodeo competitors and ranchers: they’re going to spend the time getting their more expensive hat just right, whether they do it themselves or pay a professional to do it for them. If you just like to wear baseball caps, you’ll still prefer a flat bill or a curved, shaped bill, but you probably won’t spend time and money getting it exactly perfect, like a pro would.

The best thing about this DIY project is that you really can’t ruin your hat. Hats are made to be shaped, re-shaped, and shaped again because they can lose their shape over time, depending on how they’re treated. In reality, you can shape your hat almost any way you want. There isn’t a right or a wrong way, but there are some traditional or typical shapes. Although we don’t offer hat shaping at El Vaquero Imports, we can tell you how to do it yourself. It’s truly an art, not a science. 

. A clothing steamer can also work. When the water is steaming hot, slip on some gloves or grab some tongs to hold your hat. It gets really hot! Move your hat in and out of the steam until the felt becomes warm and soft. Focus on the area you want to shape (brim, side, crown). We recommend starting with the brim because it’s easiest to hold the hat from the crown.

Once it’s malleable, gently roll or massage the hat into the shape you want. Do it soon before it cools off, then continue until you have it how you like. After your hat has cooled (but is still soft), put it on so it will shape to your head. Don’t worry. If you don’t get it the way you want you can always boil more water and start again. Don’t forget one important thing: turn off the stove when done.