Style Watch

updated 09/21/1998 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 09/21/1998 AT 01:00 AM EDT

All Hat, No Cattle?

So what if they don't know how to rope a calf or tie a sheepshank knot? Tenderfooted celebs are hitting the trail in ten-gallon toppings—mindful, perhaps, that designer Bill Blass recently proclaimed the cowboy "the American with the most style." Cowboy hats "say fun, and they keep things daring," agrees TV personality Julie Brown. "They're also brilliant for a bad hair day."

Not since John Travolta sparked a Hopalong trend with 1980's Urban Cowboy has wide-brim gone so widespread. "They're wholesome and totally American," notes fashion stylist Kim Bowen. From $20 straw to $200 felt numbers, cowboy hats "add attitude and edge to an outfit," says Paul Greyshock, who has sold them to Martha Stewart and Mariah Carey at his Buffalo Chips Bootery in New York City.

But before you pony up for one, pardner, be warned "they can look cheesy if you take them too seriously," says Bowen. Worn with a business suit "they're silly," says Blass. "There's a thin between being cool and looking totally ludicrous."

With Steven Cojocaru in Los Angeles and Jennifer Longley in New York City

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