Real cowboys still exist around Santa Fe, so if you’re in the market for a cowboy hat, it’s wise to heed their old saying—“Your hat is the last thing you take off and the first thing that gets noticed.” John Batterson Stetson designed the first official cowboy hat, famously known as “The Boss of the Plains,” more than 150 years ago. But the basic shape and function of a cowboy hat still remains the same. The best hats are made from 100 percent pure beaver felt, have a brim as wide as four inches to protect the wearer from the rain, sun, wind, and snow, and are brushed, sanded, and hand-honed to ensure the hat keeps its shape in any kind of weather. Invest in a hat in Santa Fe and you’ll feel so authentically cowboy that the next purchase might be a New Mexico ranch to accompany it.
O’Farrell Hat Company
Father-son duo Kevin and Scott O’Farrell have been making hats for a collective half-century. They’ll measure your head with the Paris-designed Conformateur, then custom create anything from a fedora to a classic western, the hat they designed for the actors in the A&E series Longmire, which is filmed in Santa Fe.
Five and Dime General Store
You’re more likely to find the straw, $5 variety cowboy hat at this downtown Plaza icon, but it’s the most affordable place in town to quickly appease a budding, five-year-old John Wayne. Be sure to also splurge on a red-chile Frito pie, topped with shredded cheddar and served in a snack-sized Frito bag.
This L.A. import has clothed actors from Brad Pitt to Julia Roberts and has been the go-to costume shop for films from Brokeback Mountain to Crazy Heart to No Country for Old Men. In addition to hats, the store sells used boots and all manner of western apparel. You might be tempted to walk out the door with a pair of vintage leather chaps.
Proprieter Roger Tomlinson spent two decades as a cowboy, shoeing horses and riding the high-alpine desert. That makes him a legitimate expert on the industry’s must important accessory. In addition to custom designing a hat for you, he’ll clean, renovate, re-shape, or even change the size and fit of an existing hat.
This downtown hatmaker has taken the customization process a step further: Most of the bands and accessories The Hatsmith stocks are designed and created by local artists. That extra detail ensures that the hat you buy will not only be an excellent vacation memory, it will also help out a local starving artist, of which there are many.