Why Do Cowboys Starch Their Jeans? Ultimate Guide.

It’s time to saddle up and talk about one of the most iconic fashion statements of the Wild West: the starched jeans.

If you’ve ever wondered why cowboys wear their jeans so stiff and crease-free, you’ve come to the right place. 

So why do cowboys starch their jeans?

From rodeo events to working on the ranch, there are plenty of reasons why cowboys have been starching their jeans for decades.

Many people believe that the main purpose of starching jeans is to prevent fraying and ripping at the seams after repeated wear and tear. However, there’s more to it than just durability. Starching also helps prevent the leg from getting holes in the knees due to constant activity while riding horses or working around the farm. Plus, it gives the jeans a sharp crease, which can be useful for rodeo events like calf roping.

But why stop at functionality when you can also look stylish? 

Starched jeans are a classic look that exudes confidence and toughness. 

Real cowboys know that a good pair of starched jeans can make all the difference in their appearance, whether they’re working on the ranch or riding horses in town. 

So grab your boots and let’s dive into the world of cowboy fashion!

The History of Cowboy Jeans

Jeans have been a staple of cowboy attire since the late 1800s. 

They were originally designed as durable workwear for miners and cowboys, but quickly became popular among the general public due to their versatility and durability.

Levi Strauss & Co. is credited with creating the first pair of jeans in 1873

The original design featured copper rivets on the pockets and waistband to reinforce the fabric in high-stress areas. 

This design proved to be so successful that it is still used in modern jeans today. [Source

As jeans became more popular among cowboys, they began to develop their own unique style. 

One of the most iconic features of cowboy jeans is the tight fit. 

This was important for cowboys who spent long hours in the saddle, as it prevented the fabric from rubbing against their skin and causing irritation.

Another important feature of cowboy jeans is the use of heavy-duty denim. 

This was necessary to withstand the wear and tear of ranch work and rodeo events. 

To further increase the durability of their jeans, cowboys began to experiment with different methods of stiffening the fabric.

Starching quickly became a popular method among cowboys.

It helped to stiffen the fabric, making it more durable and less likely to rip.

It also gave the jeans a sharp crease, which was useful for rodeo events like calf roping.

Today, cowboy jeans are still a popular choice among cowboys and western enthusiasts. 

While the style has evolved over the years, the use of heavy-duty denim and stiffening methods like starching remain a hallmark of cowboy fashion.

The Purpose of Starching Jeans

So, why do cowboys starch their jeans? Like what’s the purpose?

Well, starching is a traditional technique used to help retain the quality of the color of the fabric and make it more durable.

Many believe that the main purpose of starching jeans is to help keep them from fraying and ripping at the seams after repeated wear and tear. 

This is especially important for cowboys who spend long hours riding horses or working around the farm. 

Starching helps prevent the leg from getting holes in the knees due to constant activity.

But that’s not all. 

Cowboys don’t have time to get their clothes cleaned when they’re on the road competing or working on a ranch. 

So as a result, they choose to starch their jeans, which makes them appear crisper and makes them more dirt-resistant. 

This is especially important for rodeo events like calf roping where cowboys need to look their best.

Starching also gives jeans a sharp crease, which can be useful for cowboys who need to look sharp and put-together.

It’s not just about function, but also about style. 

Starched jeans have become synonymous with the cowboy lifestyle and have become a fashion statement in their own right.

However, it’s important to note that starching also has its drawbacks. 

Over-starching can cause the fabric to become too stiff and uncomfortable to wear. 

It can also cause the fabric to wear out faster, which defeats the purpose of starching in the first place.

So there you have it, the purpose of starching jeans.

It’s a traditional technique that has been passed down through generations of cowboys and has become an integral part of cowboy culture.

The Starching Process

So, you want to know how cowboys get those crisp, dirt-resistant jeans? 

Well, it’s all in the starching process. 

Here’s how it’s done:

  • Choose the right jeans: Not all jeans are created equal. Cowboys typically choose jeans made from heavy-duty denim that can withstand the rigors of ranch work and rodeo events.
  • Prepare the starch: Cowboys typically use a mixture of water and liquid starch to get the desired level of stiffness. Some cowboys even add a little sugar to the mix to make the jeans even stiffer.
  • Apply the starch: The jeans are soaked in the starch mixture, wrung out, and then hung up to dry. Some cowboys prefer to apply the starch with a spray bottle for more control over the process.
  • Iron the jeans: Once the jeans are dry, they are ironed to get that crisp, neat look. Some cowboys even use a special ironing board that has a crease down the middle to get that sharp crease in the jeans.

Written instructions not your thing?

No problem!

Check out this awesome video on how to starch your jeans:

And that’s it!

It may seem like a lot of work, but cowboys know that a little extra effort goes a long way when it comes to their work gear. 

Plus, there’s just something about those stiff, crisp jeans that make a cowboy feel like a million bucks.

Tips for Starching Your Jeans

Starching jeans is a common practice among cowboys, but it’s not just for them. 

Anyone can starch their jeans to achieve a crisp, polished look. 

Here are some tips to help you get started:

  • Choose the right starch: There are different types of starch available in the market, including spray starch, liquid starch, and powdered starch. Choose the one that suits your needs and preferences.
  • Wash your jeans: Before you starch your jeans, wash them to remove any dirt or grime. This will ensure that the starch adheres to the fabric properly.
  • Dry your jeans: Let your jeans dry completely before you start starching them. This will prevent any wrinkles or creases from forming.
  • Iron your jeans: Iron your jeans to remove any wrinkles and make them smooth. This will help the starch adhere to the fabric more evenly.
  • Apply the starch: Apply the starch to your jeans evenly, making sure to cover all areas. You can use a spray bottle or a brush to apply the starch.
  • Let the starch dry: Let the starch dry completely before you wear your jeans. This will ensure that the starch sets properly and your jeans look crisp and polished.

Starching your jeans is a simple process that can make a big difference in your overall appearance.

With these tips, you can achieve a polished, put-together look that will turn heads wherever you go.


Cowboys have been wearing jeans for over a century, and they have been starching them for almost as long. 

While some may think it’s just for show, there are practical reasons why cowboys starch their jeans.

Starching provides the fabric with some stability and structure, which is helpful in the sewing process. 

As the fabric is stiffer and firm, it’s easier to sew on patches, which is an essential part of cowboy culture. 

Additionally, the starched fabric helps protect against wear and tear, making the jeans last longer. 

Starched jeans also have an aesthetic appeal. 

The crisp, clean look of starched jeans is a classic cowboy look that has stood the test of time. 

It’s a symbol of hard work, dedication, and a way of life that has become synonymous with the American West. 

While some may argue that starched jeans are uncomfortable, cowboys have been wearing them for generations.

It’s a part of their culture and tradition, and they take pride in it.

In conclusion, cowboys starch their jeans for both practical and aesthetic reasons.

It’s a part of their culture and tradition, and it’s a symbol of the hard work and dedication that goes into being a cowboy. 

So, the next time you see a cowboy wearing starched jeans, remember that there’s more to it than just a fashion statement.

I hope you enjoyed my why do cowboys starch their jeans post.

See you next time and thanks for reading 🙂

Sources, citations, and further reading

Comstock, Sandra Curtis. “The making of an American icon: The transformation of blue jeans during the great depression.” Global denim (2011): 23-50.
Arndt, Jim. How to Be a Cowboy. Gibbs Smith, 2009.