The History of Feathers in Cowboy Hats – A Look Back at this Iconic Accessory

By  //  March 19, 2023

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The history of the cowboy hat is a fascinating one. It has been an iconic symbol of the American West since its inception in the 1800s and remains popular today.

The most recognizable feature of the cowboy hat is its feather, which adds a unique touch to this accessory.

In this article, we will explore how feathers came to be associated with cowboy hats and why they remain so important to this day.


Feathers have been used as decoration for centuries, dating back to ancient times when they were seen as symbols of status and power. Even Native Americans adorned their headwear with feathers, often using them to signify rank or tribe affiliation. When Europeans began settling in North America in the late 1700s, feathers were already popular with Native Americans and were adopted by settlers. 

The first cowboy hats were made from beaver fur felt, but soon fashion-conscious cowboys began customizing their hats with feathers to make them stand out. The most common type of feather used for this was the rooster hackle, which is a long, thin plume attached to the brim of the hat. This gave the hat a more distinguished look that had become associated with cowboys at the time. By the mid-1800s, feathers had become an integral part of any cowboy’s wardrobe and could be found adorning everything from boots to bandanas. 


Feathers are still widely used today in cowboy hats, and the rooster hackle remains one of the most popular choices among wearers. Many companies also offer custom-made feathers, which can be dyed to match any outfit or color scheme. While they may not have the same connotations as in the past, feathers still add a unique touch to any cowboy hat and are seen as a symbol of style and flair. 

The History of Feathers in Cowboy Hats – A Look Back at this Iconic Accessory

  • When you think of a cowboy hat, chances are good that you also picture a feather tucked into the brim. This iconic accessory has been around for centuries, and its history is as fascinating as it is stylish.
  • It is believed that the tradition of wearing feathers for cowboy hats began in the early 1800s. Cowboys would often find feathers on the ground after a bird had shed them, and they would use these to decorate their hats. The most popular type of feather was the ostrich feather, which was known for its beauty and durability.
  • As time went on, cowboys began to purchase feathers from merchants who sold them for a small fee. This allowed them to have more variety in the type of feathers they could attach to their hats. In addition, by buying feathers from merchants, cowboys could ensure that their hat was always stylish and up-to-date with the latest fashion trends.
  • As per Chiang Rai Times in the late 1800s, cowboy hats began to become more than just an accessory; they became a symbol of distinction among cattle herders and ranch hands alike. A man wearing a feathered cowboy hat was seen as someone who belonged on the American frontier—someone who was strong, brave and ruggedly handsome.
  • Today, plenty of people still wear feathers in their cowboy hats as a tribute to this classic style. Whether it’s an ostrich feather or another type, wearing feathers in your cowboy hat is a great way to add a unique touch of flair and personality to your look. 
  • No matter what type of feather you choose, or why you wear them, the tradition of feathers in cowboy hats is one that will continue to be celebrated for many generations to come. They are an iconic accessory that has stood the test of time—a timeless piece of fashion history that we can all appreciate. So if you’re looking for a way to express yourself with style, consider adding a few feathers to your hat—you won’t regret it! 


Feathers have been associated with cowboy hats for centuries, serving both practical and decorative purposes.

From ancient times to present day, this iconic accessory has become synonymous with rugged individualism and free spirit – traits that continue to define the American West today.