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Cowboy Attire

Most cowboy attire, sometimes termed Western wear, grew out of practical need and the environment in which the cowboy worked. Most items were adapted from the Mexican vaqueros, though sources from other cultures, including Native Americans and Mountain Men contributed.

Cowboy Hat

Cowboy hat

a hat with a wide brim to protect from sun, overhanging brush, and the elements; there are many styles, initially influenced by John B. Stetson's "Boss of the Plains", a design blending elements of the Mexican sombrero and both Union and Confederate Cavalry hats of the Civil War period.



a large cotton neckerchief that had a myriad of uses from mopping up sweat to masking the face from dust storms. In modern times, is now more likely to be a silk neckscarf for decoration and warmth.

Cowboy Boots and Jeans

Cowboy boots

a boot with a high top to protect the lower legs, pointed toes to help guide the foot into the stirrup, and high heels to keep the foot from slipping through the stirrup while working in the saddle; with or without detachable spurs.



(usually pronounced "shaps") or chinks protect the rider's legs while on horseback, especially riding through heavy brush or during rough work with livestock.


or other sturdy, close-fitting trousers made of canvas or denim, designed to protect the legs and prevent the trouser legs from snagging on brush, equipment or other hazards. Properly made cowboy jeans also have a smooth inside seam to prevent blistering the inner thigh and knee while on horseback.


usually of deerskin or other leather that is soft and flexible for working purposes, yet provides protection when handling barbed wire, assorted tools or clearing native brush and vegetation.

Many of these items show marked regional variations. Parameters such as hat brim width, or chap length and material were adjusted to accommodate the various environmental conditions encountered by working cowboys.

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