There’s more nuance to cowboy hats than you might imagine. The classic shapes like the 10-gallon hat, the Stetson, Cattleman, Gus, and so many more are easily recognized. But consider the crowns, or the top portion of any hat, for example. They can represent what someone does as a cowboy, cowgirl, roper or rancher. There are different brim lengths and shapes too.

For those who find hat inspiration from Yellowstone’s Beth, Rip or John Dutton but don’t know where to start, an excellent place to begin is JW Bennett. These artisans are the masters of custom modern contemporary hats.

Sarah Kjorstad has a history of ranching in Wyoming, and partner Lara Azria-Reucassel has a history of fashion, a match made in hat heaven. Kjorstad and Azria-Reucassel take classic hat silhouettes and tweak them into approachable styles for new and returning hat buyers, who like the western look but don’t necessarily want to look like they’re coming in from the ranch.

“For example, the cowboy brim is like four and a half inches, then you flange,” explains Azria-Reucassel. “If somebody wants a Western-style or cowboy style, sometimes we make the brims three or three and a half inches at maximum, shape that up, and that can be a more approachable style.”

JW Bennett sources its handcrafted hat accessories from local artists like jewelers and embroiderers. Additionally, Kjorstad makes intricate beaded hat bands inspired by the west as well as stunning feather hat bands. These accessories are simple and interchangeable ways to modernize or westernize any hat style.

“I wanted to create new patterns that are mine, that are more modern and so taking the beadwork, which is traditional, but spinning it and making new patterns and creating new colors and color combinations,” Kjorstad said. “They’re kind of a mix of both traditional and modern.”

Each hat that comes out of the JW Bennett shop is beautifully unique to the owner in shape, style or accessories, but they all leave with the hand-stitched mountain logo on the side. The mountain logo tells you that this hat was handcrafted from start to finish, and with a lot of detail and thought along the way.

SOURCEMerideth Kluever
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