It’s been an icon of American clothing for decades but isn’t always the easiest item to wear with formal attire. The question is, can you wear a cowboy hat with a suit?
Cowboy hats can be worn with suits in semi-formal settings, with felt Cattleman Creases being the most appropriate option. Try to wear the cowboy hat with a neutral-colored suit and consider a vest to up the formality level.
That’s the short answer but stick around because there’s a whole lot more to it.
After going through some essential tips for wearing cowboy hats with suits in the easiest and most effective way possible, we’ll go through a few FAQs on the topic to finish up.
8 Tips For Wearing Cowboy Hats With Suits
As always, consider all of these tips before putting your outfit together. There are definitely better ways of doing it, as well as worse ways.
Make Sure It’s Appropriate
A cowboy hat and suit combination won’t be appropriate to wear in truly formal settings.
If you feel as though an event calls for a traditional worsted wool business suit, avoid wearing a cowboy hat if possible.
While some cowboy hats look more formal than others (as you’ll soon see), they should always be considered a casual item first and foremost.
Trying to wear a cowboy hat with a formal-looking suit to a truly formal setting will usually lead to a formality mismatch and more than a few awkward stares.
Instead, wear the cowboy hat with casual-looking suits (light colors, rugged fabrics) in smart-casual or semi-formal settings.
It’s also worth considering whether it would be appropriate to wear the event you’re attending.
While it isn’t common in most parts of the world, wearing a cowboy hat with a suit isn’t unusual at all in some southern American states. Texan weddings definitely come to mind.
But with most events in many other parts of the world, it’s definitely worth considering whether the combination would draw unwanted attention.
Being the only one in a crowd in a cowboy hat and suit isn’t always appealing. Consider what event you’re attending and try to gauge how appropriate it’ll look.
Go For A Cattleman
Cattleman cowboy hats, also known as the Gentleman’s hat or the “Cattleman Crease”, would be the best option when wearing a suit.
It may be the most popular and most traditional style of cowboy hat, but it’s also considered the most appropriate to wear to formal events.
Here’s an example of the Cattleman hat shape on Amazon:
It has a tall, narrow crown, with a classic single crease down the middle and an additional crease to either side of it.
The differences between the Cattleman and other styles of cowboy hats such as the Gus, the Brick, and the Pinched Front may be subtle.
However, in general, the traditional Cattleman would be the best and “smartest” option when wearing formal attire.
Felt Cowboy Hats Look Better
When wearing a suit, felt cowboy hats look better than straw or leather ones.
Felt hats tend to have a more luxurious look to them than the rough-and-ready straw and leather varieties.
This is usually reflected in the price, with felt cowboy hats being more expensive than straw ones.
But the “high-end” appearance of felt definitely has its benefits when wearing a suit.
There’s less risk of a formality mismatch between a cowboy hat and suit when the hat is made from felt as opposed to the more casual-looking straw and leather ones.
Choose The Right Suit Color
Suits in neutral colors such as white, grey, black, and navy blue are generally easy to pair with cowboy hats than suits in brighter or bolder colors.
This isn’t a hard-and-fast rule, however.
If you were attending an event where a striking and in-your-face suit would be more than welcome, go for it.
But if you were looking for a more “neutral” appearance, consider a suit in a more muted color.
Here’s a table listing suit colors next to the cowboy hat colors that are nicely suited to them:
|White Suit||White or off-white cowboy hat|
|Grey Suit||Grey or black cowboy hat|
|Black Suit||Black cowboy hat|
|Blue Suit||White or brown cowboy hat|
While these combinations would definitely work, consider them guidelines instead of “rules”.
When wearing a neutral suit color, you’ve got the benefit of experimenting with different cowboy hat colors and making it work.
However, sticking to neutral suit colors and neutral cowboy hat colors (like in the table above) makes it even more likely that the combination works.
In addition, sticking to neutral colors makes the entire outfit look more subtle and less attention-grabbing.
For many, this is probably appealing.
Remove The Cowboy Hat Indoors
Remove the cowboy hat when indoors at any formal or semi-formal event you’re attending.
This is pretty simple hat etiquette and isn’t necessarily specific to cowboy hats.
However, it’s even more important when you’re wearing a suit and attending a formal or formal-ish event.
Wearing a cowboy hat indoors would usually be considered obnoxious and potentially even attention-seeking.
Let’s say you were attending a wedding and you feel as though a cowboy hat would be appropriate.
Wear the cowboy hat as you enter the venue and take it off as soon as you’re inside for the ceremony. Feel free to pop it back on as you exit the venue and go outside for refreshments.
Avoid Cowboy Boots
While cowboy hats may be appropriate to wear with the specific suit you’re wearing and to the specific event you’re attending, cowboy boots would almost always be a step too far.
This is especially true if you’re dressing for a formal occasion such as a wedding.
It’s very tough to make cowboy boots look formal enough for a setting such as this, especially when you’re already wearing a bold cowboy hat.
Stick to dress shoes and try to make the cowboy hat the one bold and daring item you’re wearing.
Vests Work Great
A 3-piece suit will always look more formal than a 2-piece suit.
When wearing a cowboy hat, the simple addition of a vest could reduce the risk of a cowboy hat making the entire outfit look too casual.
In addition, wearing a vest means you’ll look dapper even when you take the suit jacket off – for example when it gets too warm.
It isn’t essential. The suit you’ve got may not come with a vest and that’s fine.
But if you’ve got the option, strongly consider it.
Consider A Matching Pocket Square
It’s generally not a good idea to match your necktie to your pocket square. The two items should complement each other without matching exactly.
However, matching your pocket square to your cowboy hat can actually produce a pretty sophisticated end result.
It ties the outfit together nicely and makes it clear that your formal outfit was carefully-coordinated.
An example outfit could be a navy blue suit, burgundy red tie, white felt cowboy hat, and white pocket square.
It’s worth mentioning that a boutonniere can also look great when wearing a cowboy hat.
However, it’s important to make sure it’s appropriate and not “too much” for the event you’re attending.
Frequently Asked Questions
To finish up, let’s run through a few FAQs on the topic.
Can You Wear A Black Cowboy Hat With A Suit?
A black cowboy hat can be worn with a suit, especially grey and black suits. A felt black cowboy hat will always look better with a suit than straw or leather ones would.
Black cowboy hats have the benefit of looking more formal than lighter colors such as white or light grey.
This often makes them a good option when wearing formal attire such as suits.
While black is neutral enough to wear with practically any suit color you can think of, sticking to a neutral suit color would usually work best.
Going a step further, grey and black suits tend to work the best here.
Can You Wear A Suit With A Cowboy Hat To A Wedding?
A suit and cowboy hat may be appropriate to wear to a wedding in certain parts of the world. For example, guests often attend Texan weddings wearing the combination.
If you feel as though you may be the only guest or one of only a few guests at a wedding wearing the combination, avoid wearing it.
You don’t want to wear something that draws attention away from the wedding couple, as this is generally considered a faux pas.
A cowboy hat is surprisingly easy to wear with a suit, as long as it’s appropriate for the occasion. Stick to felt Cattleman cowboy hats and wear them with neutral-colored suits to reduce the risk of it looking awkward.