There’s something timeless and oh-so-cool about Australian outback hats. Looking to make that casually stylish vibe your own? Here’s what you need to know, from the Aussies who know it best.
The classic outback hat has been a central pillar of Australian culture since the 1800s. Designed to protect workers from the harsh, often dangerous, conditions of the Australian outback, these hats were first made out of wool felt.
Outback hats are similar to cowboy hats, but they feature a much flatter brim and don’t have the notable crown creases found in cowboy hats. Their functionality, paired with their easy-to-wear look, has made these Australian hats a global favorite.
How To Wear An Outback Hat
Thanks to a mid-sized brim and a low-key crown shape, this style looks good on nearly everyone–regardless of their face shape or body type. But, to give your hat a natural look, you’ll need to make sure that it’s properly shaped and fit. And, you’ll want to know the basics of styling it for daily wear and special occasions.
Fitting And Shaping
As with any hat, ensuring a proper fit is essential. Because Australian outback hats are designed for work, you’ll want a fit that’s snug enough that it’ll stay on your head through a day of activity. Before ordering your hat, find your head size by measuring the circumference of your head with a soft tape measure. If your head size is in between two sizes, size it depending on the material. Felt or straw hats can be sized up, while leather outback hats should be sized down. That’s because they can be shaped and stretched to your perfect fit.
One of the best parts about wearing an outback style is making it your own. Shaping your hat is a great way to do so. All you’ll need is a kettle of steaming hot water. By holding your straw, felt, or leather hat above the steam, you’ll soften the material. Once it’s soft, you can use your hands to gently shape the crown or brim to your liking. Maybe one side is a little more curved than the other. Perhaps you like a dip in the front of the brim to add some mystery. Whatever will make your hat feel like yours– that’s what it's all about.
Day To Day Wear
Aussie outback hats were first made as work hats for rough-and-tumble jobs. Cattle and farm workers love the style because of its supreme sun protection and ability to keep rain and snow off their faces. When you’re wearing your Aussie hat on a regular day, don’t be afraid to keep it casual.
When you're first practicing how to wear an outback hat, style it with simple wardrobe staples. Think neutral T-shirts, button-down western or flannel shirts, and jeans or work pants. A jean jacket will never be a bad idea, either. If you want to look put together, try matching your hat color with your jacket color. A black jean jacket would look great with a black leather hat. And a brown work coat would pair perfectly with a brown leather hat.
Headed out for something special? Outback hats might be made for the fields, but they aren’t out of place in nicer situations, either. Just make sure that your hat is nicely cared for and free of dust, dirt, and stains (we’ll give you our favorite cleaning tips, don’t worry).
For a special occasion, you might want to choose an Aussie hat that has a more decorative band. Braided leather bands, or the addition of a feather or two, are classic ways to dress up this style.
We wouldn’t recommend pairing an outback hat with a suit. But a nice pair of slacks and a dress shirt is a smart look.
Care And Cleaning
No matter where you’re wearing your Australian outback hat, make sure it’s well taken care of. Even the busiest workers in the Bush know the value of keeping their favorite hat in good condition.
In general, you can brush off most dirt and dust with a soft bristle brush. This will work for straw, wool felt, and leather outback hats.
If you come across a more stubborn stain, you’ll want to carefully hand wash the damaged area. For leather outback hats, apply a leather dressing to darken the entire hat and cover the stain. This will also rejuvenate the material!
Straw and wool hats can be carefully spot cleaned with a rag moistened with water and mild, plant-based soap.
After cleaning your hat, always let it dry on its own.
Best Styles To Start With
Ready to dive into the world of outback hats? Handpicked by our founder, these unique options offer the best that Aussie hats have to offer. From genuine, durable leather to stylish and resistant wool, you can’t go wrong with one of these looks.
What better way to start your Aussie hat journey than with a classic leather outback hat, made by the style originator himself? Bill Conner took Australian outback hats to the next level when he began crafting them out of leather in the 70s. Soon after, the style was named the official hat of the Brisbane World Fair. Now that’s a hat that’s Aussie, through and through.
Don’t have time to worry about your hat getting a little bent out of shape? Crushable outback hats are some of our founders' favorite styles. You’ll see why once you own one yourself. These hats are typically made from cruelty-free wool. This surprisingly durable material can easily be reshaped if it gets crushed while it’s being worn or stored. All you’ll need is a little bit of hot steam. Wool outback hats are also water-resistant and ideal for a range of temperatures.
Learning how to wear an outback hat might take some work. But soon, you’ll be wearing your Australian outback hat like a second skin.
Want to learn more about the history of outback hats? We’ve explained the difference between outback and cowboy hats, right here.