Why do you store cowboy hats upside down?

Cowboy hats are an iconic symbol of the American West. Wide-brimmed and creased, these stylish hats are popular among ranchers, rodeo riders, and country music stars. But if you own a quality cowboy hat, you likely know they require special care – especially when it comes to storage.

The common practice is to store cowboy hats upside down when not being worn. But why is this? What’s the purpose behind this peculiar approach to hat storage?

Keeps the Hat’s Shape

One of the main reasons to store a cowboy hat upside down is to help maintain its shape. The crown of a quality cowboy hat maintains a defined crease or dent. Storing the hat crown-side down when not being worn can keep this shape intact.

Cowboy hats are made from materials like felt and straw that can bend and change shape over time. The hats are formed on hat blocks to achieve their signature silhouette. Storing upside down uses gravity to keep the crown material stretched over the block, preventing creases from flattening out.

This is especially important for high-quality cowboy hats made from felt. Felt is durable yet flexible, and can lose its form if stored improperly between wears. Flipping the hat over crown-down allows the weight of the brim to pull down on the crown’s fabric. This keeps the felt material firmly hugged to the crown’s block shape.

Preventing Flat Brim Edges

The wide brim of a cowboy hat can also lose its form if the hat is stored upright. The brim’s edge is prone to developing flat spots or curling up if not supported. So turning the hat upside down is beneficial for maintaining the brim’s smooth, flat shape as well.

When stored crown-down, the brim has space to drape down in a natural, flat position without any contact or pressure. The brim edge is prevented from developing flat edges, folds, or a creased shape over time. This keeps the brim in an optimal circular silhouette for wearing.

Avoids Crown Indents

If a quality felt or straw cowboy hat is stored upright, the crown runs the risk of developing permanent indentations. The crown’s fabric can flatten out unevenly due to pressure placed on the hat while stored.

For example, if the hat is placed on a shelf or hanger, localized pressure placed on the crown’s fabric can lead to irregular indentations. Or if items are stacked on top of the hat, their weight can cause deformation in the crown’s shape.

Storing upside down prevents any objects from pressing into the crown material. The inverted positioning allows the fabric to drape uniformly down in a gravity-assisted manner. This avoids uneven indentations and flat marks on the crown’s fabric or felt.

Prevent Hat Band Indentations

Even the hat band around the base of the crown can cause indentations if the hat is stored upright. Most quality cowboy hats have a leather hat band that helps maintain the crown’s structure and shape. But the snug-fitting band can potentially flatten out the crown fabric right above it over time.

Flipping the hat over avoids any constricting pressure between the hat band and crown. Stored brim-down, the crown fabric simply drapes over and past the band without indenting.

Keeps Dust and Debris Out

Storing a cowboy hat upside down also helps keep dust and debris from collecting inside the crown. The inverted positioning causes the crown to face down, which minimizes the amount of particulate matter floating in the air that can settle inside the hat.

If the crown is left upright, contaminants can more easily drop down into the inner crown cavity. But with the crown flipped facing the floor or shelf surface, less dust can enter the interior space.

Prevent Staining on Hat Sweatband

An upside down storage approach also reduces the likelihood of dust causing stains on the hat’s inner sweatband. Most quality cowboy hats have a sweatband liner along the brow of the crown. The band helps wick moisture and absorb sweat from the forehead.

But dust and dirt that collects on a stored hat can transfer onto the sweatband. Over time, this can lead to staining and require sweatband cleaning or replacement. Storing crown-down limits dust contact to keep the inner sweatband clean.

Allows Crown Cavity to Air Out

Flipping a cowboy hat over for storage also allows airflow into the crown cavity for ventilation. This can help the inner felt dry out and breathe if the hat gets sweaty during wear. It prevents moisture buildup inside the crown over time.

If a damp sweatband liner isn’t given a chance to dry out, it can develop mildew and odors. Storing the hat upside down allows air to circulate up into the crown interior when not being worn. This keeps the inner band clean, dry and breathable.

Prevents Inner Hat Staining

Enabling the inner crown to air out also prevents potential staining from moisture. Sweat soaked into the hat band or inner crown fabric can cause staining or salt lines over time. Storing the hat inverted helps moisture evaporate and avoid permanent staining.

Any perspiration on the crown fabric or band has a chance to fully dry when exposed to circulating air. This avoids dampness getting trapped inside, reducing odor and staining.

Allows Crown Fabric to Rest

In addition to maintaining shape and airflow, upside down storage allows a cowboy hat’s crown fabric to rest between wears. The inverted position takes tension off the fabric so it can relax fully when not being worn.

Storing crown-side up can put slight tension on the fabric as it drapes over the crown block. Flipping the hat relieves that tension and tension creases. This lets the material rest in a slackened, smooth state.

For straw and felt cowboy hats, relaxation time is important for longevity. It prevents overstretching and deformation over continual wears. So upside down storage gives the malleable crown materials a reprieve between being shaped on a head.

Minimizes Fabric Creases

Letting the crown fabric rest while inverted also minimizes permanent creases from developing. Repeated creasing in the same pattern due to upright storage can make stiff fabric folds. But varying the direction of fabric tension allows creases to relax and smooth out.

An upside down position effectively provides this variation in tension. The crown fabric is able to reset after each wear for a crisp look rather than taking on deep-set creases over time.

Prevents Sun Damage to Brim

For cowboy hats with light-colored brims, like straw hats, upside down storage also helps prevent sun damage. The brim’s underside is kept protected from light exposure while the hat is stored crown-facing down.

If the brim is left exposed to sunlight coming through windows or outdoors, the underside can get bleached and discolored over time. Flipping the hat protects the brim surface not getting hit with sun rays while being worn.

Reduce Fading

Keeping the brim underside covered also prevents fading of the material. Dyes and pigments infused into the straw or felt can get broken down and faded when exposed to UV light. Reducing light exposure helps maintain the original rich color.

So for light-hued cowboy hats prone to sun damage, storing upside down shields half the brim from light contact. This extends the life of the brim’s color and appearance.

Allows Hat Body to Gravity Reset

Storing any cowboy hat upside down also allows the entire hat structure to reset itself in the direction of gravity. When worn, the hat material is oriented upright against gravity’s pull.

Flipping the hat over in storage lets gravity pull the hat body in the opposite direction for a period. This brief change in orientation allows the materials to relax and loosen up a bit.

It essentially lets the hat reset and expand slightly in the other direction temporarily between wears. This helps counteract compression and maintain the ideal hat proportions.

Reset Creases and Bends

Allowing gravity to pull down on the inverted hat also helps smooth out creases and bends. Subtle folds formed while wearing get gently extended and relaxed in the upside down position.

This smooths the hat body fabric for a pristine look. The crown, brim, and band materials regain their intended flat, smooth shapes without compressed folds.

Retains Hat’s Intended Shape

The various benefits of upside down storage all serve the same primary goal – preserving the cowboy hat’s intended shape and silhouette. Proper storage is the key to maintaining the crisp form of a high-quality cowboy hat over time.

Between wears, the inverted position uses gravity to keep structural materials like the crown and brim stabilized. It prevents indentation, flattening, and deformation that can occur from upright storage.

Storing upside down also utilizes the weight of the hat body itself to hug onto hat blocks. This ensures the dimensional form crafted by hatmakers is retained over years of wear and storage.

Credits Proper Care Methods

Following traditional hat storage methods shows respect for the craftsmanship and care that goes into an authentic cowboy hat. The age-old approach of flipping hats upside down credits the proper maintenance practices of experienced hat-wearers.

While upside down positions may seem unorthodox, this smart storage method dates back generations. So embracing the technique is a way to honor the heritage and handiwork behind a true cowboy hat.

Tips for Upside Down Hat Storage

If you’re sold on upside down storage for maintaining your cowboy hats, here are some useful tips for getting it right:

  • Invest in wide-brimmed hat stands to easily store hats inverted. Opt for sturdy stands with protective braces or arms to avoid hat damage.
  • Use designated hat shelves with a raised bar or lip for safely flipping hats upside down. Place on sturdy surfaces away from moisture or contaminants.
  • Crown supports and hat presses with rounded domes can hold hats upside down while retaining crown shapes.
  • For makeshift inversion, gently place hats upside down on towers of soft items like towels or blankets to mimic human heads.
  • Ensure hats stored on pegs or hooks are flipped around to keep the crown’s weight supported for a crease-free shape.
  • Stuff crown lining with soft fabric or paper while upside down to absorb moisture and maintain form.
  • Rotate between multiple high-quality cowboy hats rather than wearing and storing the same daily to prevent overwear.

If you notice flattened spots, indents, or bending despite upside down storage, have a reputable hat professional steam and re-shape the cowboy hat. With proper care, your hat can look pristine for decades to come.

FAQs About Upside Down Hat Storage

Should all hats be stored upside down?

Storing hats upside down is ideal for structured hat styles with indented crowns like cowboy, fedora, top, and bowler hats. The inverted position uses gravity to retain their distinctive indented crown shapes. Baseball caps, sun hats, and floppy unstructured hats do not require upside down storage.

Will storing upside down ruin the hat?

When done carefully on sturdy, padded surfaces, upside down storage will not ruin a hat. It is actually the recommended method for maintaining the longevity of high-quality felt and straw cowboy hats. Take care not to dent, crease, or damage the hat when flipping it over.

How do you store a straw cowboy hat?

To properly store a straw cowboy hat, flip the hat upside down on a hat stand or shelf liner with the crown facing down. This lets the brim drape down to retain its shape. Ensure the storage surface is clean to avoid staining the pale straw material. Keep away from moisture, sunlight, and heat to prevent damage.

Should you store cowboy hats in plastic bags?

No, you should avoid storing cowboy hats in sealed bags long-term. Plastic bags trap in moisture and prevent airflow, which can actually damage the hat over time. Store cowboy hats upside down on open hat racks or shelves instead to allow ventilation.

How do you keep a cowboy hat from getting flattened?

Clean the inner sweatband, then store the cowboy hat upside down on its crown on a padded surface. The inverted position uses the hat’s weight to retain the indented crown shape. Keep the brim smooth and store in a cool, dry place away from hanging objects to prevent flattening.


If you’ve ever wondered why it’s customary to store cowboy hats upside down, hopefully this breakdown explains the reasoning. Inverting the hat serves multiple purposes for maintaining the structure and fabric material. When cared for properly using this storage method, a quality cowboy hat can last years or even decades if properly maintained.

Respecting the traditional approach shows reverence for the iconic cowboy hat’s heritage in western culture. So consider embracing this quirky yet practical storage tactic if you want to preserve your cowboy lid in peak condition. Your hat will thank you for showing that extra care and attention it deserves.

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