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Gifts with a Presidents Day twist: Throw your hat in the ring

February 14, 2011 |  8:28 am

Stetson-OPEN ROAD Hat- President Lyndon B  Johnson 

Because there’s always a gift-giving occasion on the horizon — whether it’s a holiday, birthday, shower, anniversary, graduation, retirement, going away send-off or hostess gift — we’re rounding up some ideas to take you beyond the gift-card default.

For something unique, try picking a gift with a theme in mind. This week, we’re offering ideas sparked by President’s Day. No, we don’t usually give gifts for Presidents Day, which will be observed Feb. 21, but you can think of our chief execs as patriotic inspirations.  

The iconic wide-brimmed felt Stetson hat, as seen at Lanvin’s fall-winter 2011 menswear show, is already one of next season’s “it” accessories. Several U.S. presidents threw their Stetson hats into the style ring —Lyndon B. Johnson did quite literally, as he made a habit of tossing his Open Road hat into the crowd after speaking at political rallies (and reportedly always paid someone nearby $1 in advance to retrieve it). Hailing from Texas, where he owned a ranch, Johnson was known for his cowboy accessories and western-wear suits with a stitched yoke. Stetson’s western Open Road felt hat with a grosgrain band — also the favored topper of Presidents Harry Truman and Dwight Eisenhower—soon became known as the LBJ hat. (The LBJ Open Road Stetson can be found on for $165.95, and a variety of Stetson styles, ranging from about $40 to $799, is available at

Reagan Actor-turned-President Ronald Reagan is equally famous for putting his stamp on ranch style. He donned western garb on-screen and off, in films such as “Cattle Queen of Montana” and on his Santa Barbara ranch. Reagan was known for favoring a relaxed brown suit at the White House, but it was his all-American Stetson, denim shirt and cowboy gear that made him a style legend.

The mark of an official presidential hat is a label stamped, “Made by Stetson Especially For (President’s name here).” In honor of Reagan’s recent birthday centennial, give (or get) a Reagan Stetson with said label or Nancy Reagan’s favorite Giant Stetson (quite a contrast to all that couture in her closet), courtesy of The Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation & Library ($190 each at

But we advise following the lead of Lanvin and contrasting your Stetson with something positively elegant, such as a silk bow-tie or, for ladies, a lace dress.

--Ingrid Schmidt

Photos: Top, The LBJ Open Road Stetson.  Credit: Courtesy of Stetson.  Bottom, President Ronald Reagan at his ranch in 1980. Credit: Joe Kennedy/Los Angeles Times.

Tuesday: American All-Star