As someone who’s always been fascinated by the rugged charm of cowboy culture, I just couldn’t resist diving into the world of Western wear.
From the classic cowboy hat to the unmistakable cowboy boots, there’s something undeniably captivating about these iconic outfits.
So, dust off your saddle, grab a cold sarsaparilla, and join me as we explore the essential wardrobe elements that make cowboys both functional and fashionable.
20 things cowboys wear – clothing and accessories
First things first. Here’s a list of clothing that cowboys typically wear and accessories they might also wear:
- Cowboy Hat: A wide-brimmed hat made of felt or straw, typically with a high crown and creased top, for sun protection and style.
- Bandana: A versatile accessory worn around the neck or over the face for protection against dust and sun.
- Western Shirt: A long-sleeved, button-down shirt featuring a pointed collar, yokes, and snap closures, often adorned with decorative embroidery or piping.
- Waistcoat: A vest worn over the shirt, providing extra warmth and style, typically made from leather or wool.
- Chaps: Leather leg coverings worn over jeans to protect the legs from brush, thorns, and the elements.
- Jeans: Durable, heavy-weight denim pants, often featuring a bootcut to accommodate cowboy boots.
- Cowboy Boots: Distinctive, high-heeled boots with a pointed toe, often elaborately decorated with stitching or exotic leathers.
- Spurs: Metal devices attached to the heels of boots, used to communicate with and control a horse.
- Gun Belt: A wide, sturdy leather belt designed to hold a holster and ammunition, used primarily for utility and style.
- Holster: A leather case for carrying a revolver, typically worn on the hip.
- Bolo Tie: A unique necktie made of a braided leather cord and a decorative metal slide, often featuring a gemstone or intricate design.
- Pocket Watch: A traditional timepiece with a chain, typically kept in a vest pocket and attached to a belt loop or buttonhole for added security.
- Leather Gloves: Durable gloves providing protection and grip during riding, roping, and other ranch work.
- Cufflinks: Decorative fasteners used to secure the cuffs of dress shirts, often featuring Western-themed designs or motifs.
- Saddlebags: Leather pouches attached to a horse’s saddle for carrying personal belongings and supplies during long rides.
- Ranch Coat or Duster: A long, heavy coat designed to protect against wind, rain, and cold weather, often featuring a cape-like yoke for additional coverage.
- Scarf Slide: A decorative accessory used to secure a bandana or scarf around the neck, often made of metal or bone.
- Concho Belt: A leather belt adorned with silver or metal ornaments, called conchos, adding a stylish touch to a cowboy’s wardrobe.
- Wild Rag: A large, silk or cotton square scarf worn around the neck for added warmth, protection, and style.
- Boot Jack: A device used to help remove cowboy boots without bending over
What cowboys wore in the Old West
The clothing and accessories worn by cowboys in the Old West were designed with functionality and durability in mind.
Life during this time was often challenging and demanding, as cowboys spent long days working outdoors, exposed to the elements, and performing various tasks such as riding, roping, and herding cattle.
As a result, their attire was created to withstand the harsh conditions and provide protection.
Cowboy hats were an essential part of a cowboy’s wardrobe, offering protection from the sun and rain.
Made from felt or straw, these wide-brimmed hats had a high crown, and the creased top allowed for easy handling and storage.
The iconic Stetson hat, which originated during this time, is still a popular choice today.
Bandanas were another versatile item worn by cowboys.
They could be used to protect the face and neck from dust, sun, and cold, or for other purposes such as a makeshift sling or towel.
Durable long-sleeved shirts with snap closures and decorative elements were favored for their ability to withstand wear and tear.
Heavy-weight denim pants, often bootcut to accommodate cowboy boots, were the preferred choice for cowboys in the Old West.
These jeans provided durability and resistance to the elements.
Cowboy boots, made of leather and featuring a pointed toe and high heel, allowed for better stability in the stirrups while riding.
The boots were often adorned with intricate stitching or made from exotic leathers for added style and personal expression.
Leather chaps, worn over jeans, were designed to protect cowboys’ legs from brush, thorns, and the elements.
They were easily removable when not needed for added convenience.
Belt and holster
Cowboys in the Old West often carried firearms for protection against threats, such as outlaws or wildlife.
As a result, a sturdy gun belt and leather holster were common accessories.
These belts were wide and designed to hold a revolver and ammunition securely, while the holsters allowed for easy access to the firearm when needed.
Vests, ranch coats, or dusters
Additional accessories, such as waistcoats and ranch coats or dusters, were worn to provide extra warmth and protection from the wind, rain, and cold weather.
Waistcoats, typically made from leather or wool, were worn over shirts, while ranch coats or dusters were long, heavy coats featuring a cape-like yoke for additional coverage.
Despite the rough and rugged nature of cowboy life in the Old West, personal style and expression were still important.
Fancy accessories for formal occasions
Accessories like bolo ties, cufflinks, and concho belts added a touch of flair and individuality to a cowboy’s wardrobe.
Modern Cowboy Fashion:
Modern cowboy fashion has taken a fashionable turn, mixing classic Western wear with contemporary style.
Cowboy hats have evolved, now flaunting various materials, colors, and designs.
From traditional felt to bold straw patterns, there’s a hat for every urban cowboy.
Fringe is making a comeback. Leather jackets, vests, and bags boast fringes, blending functionality with a hint of Wild West chic.
Howdy, flannel! This cozy fabric has galloped into everyday wear. Mix flannel shirts with jeans, skirts, or even tailored trousers for a stylish twist.
Put your best foot forward with updated cowboy boots. Choose from embroidered patterns, exotic leathers, or unique colors to showcase your fashion sense.
Say “adios” to plain denim; embroidered jeans are the new sheriff in town. Embellishments and colorful patterns give traditional jeans a fashionable upgrade.
Accessorize, cowpoke! Bolo ties, turquoise jewelry, and concho belts add Western flair to any outfit. Don’t be shy, mix and match for maximum impact.
Modern cowboy fashion is versatile, so grab your lasso and wrangle up a wardrobe that’s both rugged and runway-ready.
Famous Cowboy Outfits (to help you look the part)
When we think of cowboys, we often think of the iconic outfits that they wore.
From the boots to the hats, these outfits were not only practical for life on the range but also became a symbol of the American West.
Here are a few famous cowboy outfits that have made their mark in history:
1. The Lone Ranger
The Lone Ranger is one of the most recognizable cowboys in pop culture.
His signature outfit includes a white cowboy hat, a black mask, a blue shirt, and a red scarf.
The outfit was designed to be simple and easy to recognize, and it has become a classic look for cowboys.
2. John Wayne
John Wayne was one of the most famous cowboys in Hollywood history.
He was known for his rugged good looks and his tough-guy persona, and his outfits reflected that. Wayne often wore a brown Stetson hat, a leather vest, a bandana, and a pair of cowboy boots.
His outfits were practical and functional, but they also had a certain style that made him stand out.
3. Roy Rogers
Roy Rogers was another famous cowboy from the golden age of Hollywood.
He was known for his flashy outfits and his singing cowboy persona. Rogers often wore a white cowboy hat, a fringed shirt, a pair of fancy boots, and a pair of silver spurs.
His outfits were designed to be eye-catching and memorable, and they certainly achieved that goal.
4. Billy the Kid
Billy the Kid was a notorious outlaw in the American West, and his outfit reflected his rebellious nature.
He often wore a black hat, a black shirt, and a pair of black pants. His outfit was simple and understated, but it helped him blend in with the crowds and avoid detection.
5. Buffalo Bill
Buffalo Bill was a famous showman who toured the country with his Wild West show.
His outfit included a buckskin jacket, a fringed shirt, and a pair of moccasins.
His outfit was designed to evoke the image of the Native American warriors that he often portrayed in his shows.
As you can see, cowboy outfits come in all shapes and sizes.
From the flashy outfits of Hollywood cowboys to the practical outfits of real-life cowboys, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to cowboy fashion.
But one thing is for sure: cowboy outfits will always be an important part of American culture.
Brands That True Cowboys Trust: A Personal Roundup
Now, as a Western wear aficionado, I’ve got a few go-to brands that I reckon any cowboy or cowgirl would be proud to wear.
These brands have been around for ages, and they’ve stood the test of time, just like the cowboys themselves.
Let me share with you some of my all-time favorites:
Can’t talk about cowboy fashion without mentioning Wrangler.
Their jeans are the real deal, offering durability, comfort, and that classic cowboy fit.
Trust me, you can’t go wrong with a pair of Wranglers.
When it comes to hats, Stetson is king.
They’ve been crafting top-quality cowboy hats since 1865, and their iconic designs are a must-have for any Western enthusiast.
For cowboy boots that combine performance and style, Ariat is my go-to brand.
They’ve got a fantastic selection of boots perfect for work, riding, or a night out on the town.
Another brand I trust for cowboy boots is Justin Boots.
Their handcrafted boots are both comfortable and stylish, and they’ve been a staple in the cowboy community for over 140 years.
While not strictly a Western brand, Levi’s denim is a classic choice for cowboys and cowgirls alike. Their sturdy jeans and denim jackets are perfect for adding a touch of rugged charm to any outfit.
Roper offers a wide range of Western wear, from boots to shirts and everything in between. Their clothing is both comfortable and stylish, making it perfect for everyday cowboy life.
Cinch is another brand that’s earned its spot in my Western wardrobe. They’re known for their high-quality shirts, jeans, and accessories that cater to the modern cowboy’s needs.
If you’re looking for top-notch flannel and wool shirts, Pendleton is the brand to check out.
Their garments are both cozy and durable, and they’ve got some fantastic Western-inspired designs.
Last but not least, Tony Lama is a brand that’s been synonymous with cowboy boots since 1911.
Their attention to detail, craftsmanship, and style make them a favorite among cowboys and cowgirls alike.
These brands have never let me down, and I reckon they’ll serve any cowboy well.
Well, partners, it’s been one heck of a ride exploring the ins and outs of cowboy attire!
From classic Old West styles to the modern fashion frontier, there’s no denying the enduring appeal of Western wear.
I reckon it’s time to tip our hats to the cowboys who inspired these timeless looks.
Whether you’re a bonafide ranch hand or a city slicker with a hankerin’ for some cowboy flair, there’s a piece of Western fashion waiting for you.
So, don your boots, sport your finest Stetson, and ride off into the sunset with style.
Happy trails, y’all!
Sources, citations, and Further Reading:
Wilson, Laurel E. “Cowboy clothing.” Encyclopedia of clothing and fashion (2005): 314-316.
Nan, Qiao. “On the Innovative Elements of Cowboy Clothing.” 7th International Conference on Education, Management, Information and Computer Science (ICEMC 2017). Atlantis Press, 2016.
Wilson, Laurel. “American cowboy dress: Function to fashion.” Dress 28.1 (2001): 40-52.
Savage, William W. The Cowboy Hero: His Image in American History & Culture. University of Oklahoma Press, 1979.