So, there’s this hat—tan, wide-brimmed, complete with a neat bow on its band. In its own way, it rescued me from being inadvertently devoid of style. It’s not lost on me that practical is my closest form of fashion—old leather boots, blue jeans, a top that won’t show the dog hair that is surely embedded in my driver’s seat backrest. 

I purchased this hat, the game-changer, on a recent trip to New York in the town where I became a cowgirl. I was a college student then and my English background as a horseback rider was quickly transformed when I was introduced to the rodeo scene. Everything in the western realm of riding was sequence and bright and over-the-top. It was all collared shirts tucked behind blinged-out belts and the hats were works of art. I was smitten. 

I haven’t lost this favored fit of clothing through the years but a baseball cap did replace the gorgeous swing and slope of a western hat. Somehow, moving to the west made me feel fraudulent in this way. A New York cowgirl? I had lost some of that rodeo confidence when I left the arena, and I was in search of a new accessory that might capture my city roots and country lifestyle. 

And there she was, the highway hat. It had the pinched top to resemble a classic western shape but a wide brim that gave a polite nod to modern fashion and all at once, I had arrived. It’s my little black dress, my glass slipper, my go-to. 

 

On the Cover

Blair Ann Cislo and Madeleine Ford show off their handmade creations. Learn all about them and their unique jewelry on page XX.

Photography Pamela Dunn-Parrish