How Western Wear Has Changed Over the Years

man wearing green plaid shirt, jeans, tan boots, belt and cowboy hat.

Western wear has been a staple in a lot of closets for decades now. The 1800s were the golden age for cowboys with distinctive fashion trends. The hats, shirts and trousers that were once popular are still seen today with a modern twist. Our experts are here to share how western wear has evolved over the years.

The Infamous Cowboy Hat

During the 1800s, the bowler hat entered the fashion world. The bowler hat was perfect for riding horses and was less likely to blow off into the wind. However, by the 1870s, the bowler hat was replaced by the Stetson hat. This popular hat was widely used in the Union Calvary and is still worn today. Stampede strings were eventually added to these hats to prevent them from blowing off while riding at quick speeds. Today, you can find these infamous cowboy hats made from either straw, felt or other materials with unique designs for all styles.

Western Shirts

Western shirts are far more complex than plaid and patchwork. A yoke is a key feature of these shirts and may or may not feature decorations like embroidery or pipping. A yoke is a shaped piece of the garment around the neck and shoulders that provides extra support.  During the 1800s, the yoke made its first appearance. They were originally visible by a contrasting color or pattern. You can tell western wear has changed over the years, as evident in the styles of modern shirts. The Western films from the 1950s inspired bright patterns, snap pockets, patches and fringe. Today, the modernized cowboy shirt is popular for everyday wear among men and women.

Traditional Trousers

One of the biggest ways western wear has changed over the years has to do with trousers. Trousers or pants have evolved greatly since the early Wild West days. Wool and canvas trousers were popular during this time. Denim became popular during the 1840s because they were cheaper and had more breathability. By the 1870s, denim with copper rivets became the popular option among cowboys and ranchers. Western wear developed further with added accessories like belts and leather chaps. Chaps were worn over pants to protect legs from sharp plants and objects. You will see bright colored and embellished chaps on rodeo cowboys to draw attention to their skills. In modern-day western wear, you will find similar pants, predominately jeans, with added large buckles on belts and accessories.

Our western wear specialists hope you enjoyed learning about how western wear has changed over the years. Keep the historical roots of cowboy fashion in mind when you style your clothes.

Related Reading

The Culture Trip –  A Brief History of American Western Wear


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