Growing up in Steamboat, I was surrounded by two main themes, Skiing and ranching. This meant that dressing up in our school meant either a suit or something similar to this:

Country formal wear. (source:
Formal Cowboy Wear (source:

This country western/Cowboy aesthetic has been around for a long time dating back to the 19th century in northern Mexico. This cowboy look was partial to cow herders and quickly spread to the southern US and South America as well as Australia, Spain and other parts of Europe. In each of these countries, the “cowboy look” turned into something a little different. One of the ways to see these different evolutions is through the types of cowboy hats.

Types of Hats'
Different types of Cowboy Hats (source:
Classic Stetson Hat (source:
Classic Western Stetson Straw Hat (source:

One of the main aspects that has influenced this culture are rodeos and stock shows. Both of these got cowboys, normally from smaller towns or ranches, together and eventually led to the spread of cowboy culture into everyday life. One of the biggest stock shows and rodeo is the National Western Stock Show in Denver.

National Western Stock Show (Source:
National Western Stock Show (Source:
National Western Stock Show Cattle Drive
Longhorn cattle drive for 2015 parade (Source:
Steer wrestling in the rodeo (source:
Steer wrestling in the rodeo (source:

Another big contributor in this culture is music. Country music has been around for a while (since the mid 1900’s) with artists like Roy Rodgers and Johnny Cash. In recent years the music industry has had a huge impact on the idea of what country looks like and has changed it drastically.

Roy Rodgers
Roy Rodgers – Early country singer  (source:
NASHVILLE, TN - JUNE 08: Thomas Rhett performs during the 2014 CMA Festival at LP Field on June 8, 2014 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by C Flanigan/FilmMagic)
Thomas Rhett – Current day country singer (source:

The country western aesthetic is currently evolving faster than ever before from music, stock shows, and rodeo’s. Currently, people are personalizing the country aesthetic to match their lifestyle. From people in the inner city, to ranchers, country means something a little different. Going forward, there will always be aspects of the origins of the country western culture, but it will probably be mixed with something new as well.

Jeff Gay at National Championships in Sunlight, Colorado. (source: Myself)
Jeff Gay at National Championships in Sunlight, Colorado. (source: Myself)
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3 Comments. Leave new

  • Fun and informative post Jeff. I also liked the personal touch at the end. One of my favorite Steamboat events has always been the Cowboy Downhill! The diagram of hat shapes based on region was interesting. It seems that George Strait has a huge influence on that for a few decades as well. It may be interesting to investigate the influence of popular country musicians on the aesthetic, if any, particularly in rural vs. urban differences.

    Thank you for sharing!

  • Peter Brunsgaard
    January 24, 2016 11:49 am

    As Elyse mentioned, the photo comparing different styles of cowboy hats was super informative. I never correlated the different styles of hats to a cowboy aesthetic from a specific region. You did a great job of addressing the different styles of cowboys, from the more classic western film look to a more modern day cowboy who may be rocking a trucker hat. It would be super interesting to learn more about the evolution of country music over the years as well.

  • Elyse Skinner
    January 22, 2016 4:53 pm

    I really liked learning about all the different influences of the cowboy aesthetic. I see you understood how it is constantly changing and how there can be various aesthetics within the cowboy aesthetic. I thought the diagram of the different types of hats was cool too, because I had no idea there were that many different types! You had some really great photos too, and I liked the personal touch at the end!


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