Some of the most famous clothing in film is that of the American cowboys. Popularized and exaggerated by Hollywood Westerns, Wild West cowboy clothes have their origin in the clothes of Mexicans and Spanish conquistadors.
Cowboy outfits are made up of a series of essential items that arose from the practical necessities of the job and the harsh environment that they lived in in the West. These clothes have made the cowboy outfit into a classic look.
The cowboy hat is probably the most iconic cowboy item. They have a tall crown and have an extremely wide brim that is slightly bent on the sides to protect cowboys from the sun. Most have a chin strap to keep it from blowing away in the wind.
The cowboy hat arose in Mexico which, in turn, had its origins in Spain and the tradition of equestrianism that traveled to the New World. Remember that before the Mexican-American War, southern US states such as California and Texas were part of Mexico.
The most famous hat was called the Boss of the Plains, created in 1865 by John B. Stetson. It gained worldwide fame in cowboy movies.
A bandanna is a type of handkerchief that cowboys used to protect themselves from dust when they rode or when there was a sandstorm. They also used them to protect their necks from the sun. Its role was eminently practical.
Along with a hat, boots are the most characteristic item of clothing for Western cowboys. It was also brought over by Spanish jockeys.
They are fairly tall to protect the legs and had a pronounced toe, high heels to fit nicely into stirrups, and sometimes included spurs. The original cowboy boots were made of cow leather, but they are also made of other species such as snake, alligator, or ostrich.
These were invented by Spanish settlers to protect the legs from large bushes, thorns, and barbed wire when they rode. They were later adopted by American cowboys. They tend to be made of leather and their length varies by region. The original chaps worn by the Mexicans consisted of a leather blanket that was held up with a belt and which covered both legs.
All traditional Wild West cowboy outfits use jeans as the pants. This material was made popular at the end of the 19th century. Likewise, it was common to wear denim shirts.
Another less flashy but very practical accessory for cowboys is gloves. They are usually made of soft, flexible leather in order to comfortably carry out tasks in the field, whether dealing with barbed wire or weeding.
Another typical item seen in Western movies is the lasso. This is a tough rope which used to be made of leather that is used to capture animals. It has a slip knot on one end. Today it is also used in rodeos and handling it is a true art.
Though not all boots have spurs, they are a symbol of the cowboys. They are small serrated wheels in the shape of a star that are attached to the heel of the boot. They serve to direct the horse’s movements.
As you can see in American Westerns, a true cowboy isn’t anybody without his revolver at his hip. It was often used to fight duels and was tied to his belt. In real life, cowboys had a gun mainly to protect the cattle from potential predators. Nowadays, they mainly use rifles.
If you want to know more about cowboy culture and learn about the Western genre, at Oasys MiniHollywood you can find a Far West town where some of the most iconic movies in the history of cinema were filmed. Come see it for yourself!