When Blake Shelton emerged onto the country music scene with his debut single, "Austin," in 2001, his hair was long, and he was almost never seen without his beloved cowboy hat. Since then, Shelton has turned into a well-dressed music and TV star, trading his long locks and cowboy hat for shorter hair and stylish jackets and vests. But although the artist has left his identity as a "hat act" behind, he still vigorously defends that image.

"I wore a cowboy hat because I was from Oklahoma, and we all wore cowboy hats," Shelton recently told The Boot and other reporters. "If you went out somewhere, if you went to some kind of a nice party, you put on your nice black felt cowboy hat, if it was the right time of year. I always wore my black one, no matter what time of year it was, just because I liked it better.

"And so, whenever I became an artist, obviously I wore my cowboy hat when I’d go onstage and stuff, because that’s how you dressed up," he continues. "And then I started hearing things and reading things like, ‘Oh he’s a hat act,’ and it’s like, ‘What does that mean, a hat act?’ I still don’t really know what it means.

"It’s just stupid, the terms that got attached to people," Shelton adds. "I’m not a hat act; I’m a country singer. My hat doesn’t define me because it’s just what we did at home. So I finally cut my hair and started fixing it and not being a hat act anymore."

While the "She's Got a Way With Words" singer may have given up his beloved cowboy hat, his current style of dress is here to stay.

“I don’t like myself in a T-shirt,” Shelton explains. “In 2001, you didn’t show up wearing a T-shirt and a baseball cap to be on stage, and that’s just still my mentality. Clearly I’m one of the last ones standing. I’m not saying I like to get totally dressed up, but I want to look like I put on something nice and fixed my hair. I’m just old, I guess.”

During the same event, Shelton also defended the "bro-country" style of music, and those who sing it.

"It doesn’t sound offensive to me," Shelton shares. "The people that b---h and moan about bro-country needs to go b---h and moan to the millions of people that are buying it. It’s clearly something that connects with a lot of people out there. If you’re upset about it, go to your neighbor and say, ‘Quit buying that,’ not to the people that are making the music, because they’re making the music because it means something to them, I guess.

"When I make a record, it’s because it means something to me," he continues. "Don’t be mad at me about it. If you’re mad that it’s successful, go b---h at the people that are buying the tickets and the records, not me."

Shelton's latest album, If I'm Honest, was released in May. The record is available for purchase at Amazon and iTunes.

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