Rodeo clownHats are an important wardrobe accessory in New Mexico and we seem to be having more fun with hats than most of the country. I had this epiphany several years ago while living in Atlanta. Like most of the U.S., baseball hats and baseball caps are the default hat choice. There was little variation, other than sports team or brand represented. As someone with an affinity for hats, I searched for a hat shop offering more styles. Nada. If you want a cap, top hat, or bowler in Georgia, you have to order it online. There are more people in Atlanta than in the entire state of New Mexico. How is it possible that they overlooked the necessity of hat choices?

I have been spoiled growing up New Mexico, with numerous well established hat shops that cater to a wide range of tastes. From Panama to Pillbox, you can find every style of hat you want.

Fashionable & Functional

Men wearing hats
The Man’s Hat Shop in Albuquerque.

There may be a well documented reason for New Mexico’s love of hats. Feel free to message me or leave a comment if you have a theory.

My hypothesis is that the prevalence of hats in New Mexico is climate driven; there are few trees, little shade, and the sun is merciless. In fact, many locals develop an uncanny sixth sense about shadows, automatically shifting into ‘search for shade’ mode whenever a cell phone call requires pulling over for more than a few seconds. It is so dry that perspiration evaporates before you notice sweating and you may not realize that you are over-heating. Sun stroke is common. If you want to avoid the slow broil, wear a hat.

Choose Wisely

Conquistador Helmet
This is a fantastic example of what NOT to wear in New Mexico.

I wonder if wearing metal cans contributed to Spanish surliness when they initially arrived in this region. They may have inadvertently seared their brains on the journey from Mexico to Zuni Pueblo. Seems like a bad choice. Metal is not the ideal choice of material…unless you anticipate an adversary lobbing projectiles at your head. I need gloves for my steering wheel in the summer.

The New Mexico sun is intense and a lot of the state is high elevation. Hats are an essential part of the defense strategy. Outdoor activities invariably involve ‘bring your own shade’ scenarios. This explains the appeal of the cowboy hat, which competes with the baseball hat/cap in terms of local popularity. However, New Mexicans don’t limit themselves to the standard fare. Bowlers, top hats, caps, fedoras, pork pies, sunhats and safari hats are common. In fact, you can get away with wearing pretty much anything as a hat in New Mexico, which is demonstrated daily by eccentric and/or fashion forward individuals throughout the state.

Cowboys lined up at Wild Things Rodeo

Albuquerque Hat Shops

Santa Fe Hat Shops

Man wearing cowboy hat

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