When it comes to talking about Country music, the most important aspect is, well of course, music, but it’s interesting to note changes in fashion trends, as they also help reflect the evolution of the genre. Whenever we see Country superstars, it’s not too far fetched to expect them to be wearing a classic cowboy hat. While this traditionalist accessory had once become a staple of the genre, Country music has evolved, and thus have its fashion trends, which beckons the questions… will cowboy hats become a symbol of the past?
In general, cowboy hats are a symbol for the American West. The style originated from 19th century Mexican culture, and is now worn by ranch workers, rodeo participants, as well as Country-Western singers.
Superstars like Tim McGraw, Kenny Chesney, and Garth Brooks are seen on the red carpet decked out in their best suit and topped with a cowboy hat. Blake Shelton says that his reason for wearing a hat is because he’s, “…from Oklahoma, and [they] all wore cowboy hats…if you went out somewhere, if you went to some kind of nice party, you put on your nice black felt hat…” Even Brad Paisley has a line of cowboy hats. In a sense, cowboy hats represent traditionalist Country and they are a statement that distinguishes an “artist” from a “Country artist.”
However, in recent years, cowboy hats have become a little more controversial in the Country music community. The term “hat act” was coined in the 1990s to describe the generic up-and-comers to come out of Nashville at the time, all wearing cowboy hats. Although some did have a hint of success, they would usually fade out fairly quickly. Does that have to do because of the cowboy hat, though? Many acts have pushed through the negative connotation and become some of the most important country acts of today such as Toby Keith, Trace Adkins, etc.
Interestingly, a new hat trend has emerged in the last few years – baseball caps. Luke Bryan is almost always pictured in his cool baseball cap. Eric Church’s album cover for his 2011 album ‘Chief’ features him wearing a trucker hat. Perhaps the hat transformation comes from a shift in Country music itself. Country music today explores a variety of crossover genres such as Pop, Rock, even Hip-Hop and Rap. The shift from “traditionalist Country” has presented a cooler aesthetic for Country musicians. Baseball caps are a bit more universal – they can be worn out in a rural countryside or at a bar in a big city.
Maybe we’re just starting to break away from the idea that “the hat makes the man” and we’re leaving room for each artist to have their own signature fashion statement like Johnny Cash’s all-black attire or Taylor Swift’s original Country princess style. Are cowboy hats on their way out in Country music? And will baseball caps replace them? Let us know what you think!