Anyone who has ever watched FX Networks' hit series Justified can attest to the fact that Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant) is one cool character. He strolls into a scene as if he is detached from the mayhem going on around him. He is charming, cool and oh so handsome. And sitting on top of his head is that great Stetson hat. No cowboy is complete without one. Timothy Olyphant is to the cowboy hat what Michael Jordan is to Nike sneakers. Everybody wants to put that hat on their head and be cool like Raylan Givens.
Cowboys in the old West didn't always have the cowboy hat to rely on. They wore a mixture of hats which were unsuitable for the conditions they faced. Many came west after trying their hand at a number of vocations. Thus, they wore sea captain hats, coonskin caps, straw hats or wool derbies. When John B. Stetson, the son of a hatter, noticed the unsuitable head wear, he decided to fashion a more functional hat.
John Stetson was born in New Jersey in 1830. The son of a hatter, Stephen Stetson, he learned the trade from his father. However, John was diagnosed with tuberculosis at a young age and given a dire prognosis for survival. Having always wanted to explore the West, he left New Jersey and began a journey across the western United States. It was during his travels that he noticed the need for a functional hat for the men who lived and fought in the West. Stetson fashioned a hat for himself during his travels.
In 1865 Stetson moved to Philadelphia, where he planned to mass produce the hat he had fashioned for himself while traveling in the West. This hat was known as Boss of the Plains. It had a high crown and wide flat brim. Cowboys noted it kept the sun out of your eyes and off your neck. It served to keep the rain out and it could also be a fan for those hot days. In addition to that you could use it to water your horse or water yourself.
The hat was a quality hat. Durable and made of waterproof felt. It was made to last and to withstand the weather conditions cowboys had to face daily. It was the first cowboy hat.
It gained instant popularity and became the symbol of the American cowboy. Some of America's most loved cowboy stars have worn the Stetson including John Wayne and Gene Autry. Even the ladies wore the Stetson including Annie Oakley and Dale Evans.
Stetson has made hats for the Texas Rangers and even Presidents. It remains a symbol of durability and style. The hats are still manufactured today in Garland, Texas.
Raylan's hat is a hand modified 6X beaver with a basket weave embossed leather hat band and a three piece buckle set. It is a Stetson "silverbelly" which is a very light beige color. The producers of "Justified" give this style of Stetson to all of their guest stars.
Raylan Givens is the quintessential cowboy and the Stetson is the quintessential cowboy hat. Timothy Olyphant plays Givens to perfection and he wears the hat like no other cowboy.
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