Why did cowboys wear cowboy hats

Cowboys weren't rich men. So they only owned what they could transport on horseback and what they wore on their bodies. During the treks, they had no opportunity to change or clean their work clothes - be it for reasons of space or because of their limited financial resources. Only after the herds of cattle had been delivered to the cattle towns did they buy new clothes. At most for dance evenings in the free time after the cattle drive, they had somewhat finer dress clothes that they kept in the city.

The underwear

The underwear of the cowboys consisted of a mostly pink one-piece, which was provided with a continuous button placket. This one-piece in particular was seldom changed during the trek. It was underwear and pajamas at the same time.

Shirt and vest

The material of the shirts consisted either of cotton for the summer or of new wool for the winter. They were simple clothes with no collars and no decoration. They were either striped or checked.

The vests also kept warm, but they also had a practical use, as deep pockets were sewn into them, in which the cowboys could store smaller items such as wallets, tobacco pouches, penknives or pencils. There were pockets in the trousers, but as they were difficult to get at on horseback, they were hardly used.

The scarf

The kerchief was also mainly of practical use. On the one hand, it served as dust protection, which the so-called dragrider behind the herd used in particular to avoid having to swallow the stirring dust, on the other hand, it was used as a handkerchief, sweat cloth, tourniquet, wound cloth or sunscreen. Since the scarf was only a functional item of clothing during the trek, it consisted only of a square piece of cotton. In their free time, the cowboys also wore brightly printed scarves, the so-called bandanna.

The cowboy hat

One of the most distinctive features of a cowboy in the Wild West was his cowboy hat. It developed from the Mexican sombrero and consisted of gray or brown fils. The wide brim protected the cowboy more than badly from rain and sun. The hat was also misused. It was used as a water trough for humans and animals, or as a fan for the campfire. Initially, the hats of that time were hardly able to cope with the harsh climate. Rain, in particular, deformed the hats to such an extent that they could hardly be used. Later, John Stetson - gold prospector in Colorado - experimented with numerous hat models. But it wasn't until he was lucky in his gold search that he settled in Philadelphia in 1865 and rented a small room for $ 100. He also procured the equipment he needed for hat production. Over time, the typical cowboy hat with its wide brim, which looked like a gully and really protected the cowboy and gold digger from the rain, was created here.

The pants

The most famous trousers of the cowboys were the blue jeans, which were made by the German Levi Strauss. He quickly realized that the Californian gold diggers needed hard-wearing trousers, as their cotton trousers were not very durable and quickly broke. The cowboys also wore cotton trousers before they got to know jeans. To prevent the trousers from chafing through so quickly, they were reinforced with leather on the buttocks and thighs. They had to be tight around the hips, as the cowboys wore neither suspenders - they rubbed against the shoulders - nor belts.

The chaps

So-called chaps were often pulled over the trousers. These were leather trousers without buttocks, which were supposed to protect the legs from the horns of the cattle or thorn bushes. In addition to the narrow chaps, there were also wide-cut ones that also protected the horses' flanks (see picture). In colder areas, the cowboys wore goat hair chaps. But these had the disadvantage that they soaked up with water when it rained and were therefore very heavy. They also gave off a foul odor when wet.

The cowboy boots

Besides the saddle, the cowboy's most expensive possessions were the boots. A good pair of boots could cost up to $ 30. While the heels were relatively flat at first, they got higher and higher in the middle of the 19th century. This had the advantage that it was not so easy to slip out of the stirrup when riding. The sole of the footwear was quite thin so the cowboy could feel the stirrups. In addition, the boots were pointed at the front. That also made sense. The cowboy could get in and out of the stirrups so quickly. The high shaft of the boots prevented dirt from falling into them. Since the boots - as mentioned above - were very expensive, some cowboys also slept in them, and many are said to have been buried in them, which earned the cemeteries of the cattle towns the name Boot Hill.