That Old Time Feeling

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erwin smith photograph

The cowboys of the trail-drive era were a proud bunch. The pride they held in their gear was only matched by their meager standard of living and inability to buy the best. Nevertheless, they had a look they adhered to. Teddy Blue Abbott, in his book, We Pointed Them North, describes the typical Texas cowpuncher. “For dress, they wore wide-brimmed beaver hats, black or brown, with low crown, fancy shirts, high-heeled boots, and sometimes a vest. Their clothes and saddles were all homemade. Most of them had an army coat with a cape, which was [their] slicker and blanket too. As the business grew, great changes took place in their style of dress. We had a high-crowned white Stetson hat, fancy shirts with pockets, and striped or checkered California pants made in Oregon City, the best pants ever made to ride in.”

old west cowboy gear

Saddle Cut Pants
These USA-made cotton pants from Wahmaker feature a contrasting saddle seat, button fly, two riding pockets, watch pocket, and suspender buttons. Often, the original pants drovers wore would become threadbare in the area that rubbed against the saddle all day and were reinforced with whatever material was handy. These are made in the USA with 100% cotton. $76
714-717-7218, vintagewesternwear.com

Peacemaker Hat
Part of Resistol’s officially licensed John Wayne Collection, this hat is a faithful recreation of a hat an 1880s drover might wear. Founded in 1927 to make hats that would “resist all weather,” Resistol makes this hat with 4X Resistol Wool, a two-cord ribbon, and a John Wayne Pin. The Peacemaker—though not tied to specific John Wayne character—is representative of the trail driving era. $125
ResistolHat.com

Shirt
For their first trip up the trail, most cowboy would have worn a homemade shirt, but if the could keep from spending all their money in the saloon when they hit the trailhead town, they’d have purchased a shirt similar to this. This 19th-century style shirt from Wahmaker features an inset bib and is available in red, black, tan or white. $75
714-717-7218, vintagewesternwear.com

The Taylor saddle
The saddle in the Erwin E. Smith photo at left was probably made in the 1880s and is a ¾ seat. Jerry Stewart, owner of Sawtooth Saddle Company in Vernal, Utah, created a similar saddle. It’s double rigged and, like the pictured saddle, features rounded square skirts, exposed leathers with a twist, 5-inch cantle and a steel horn. $5,281
435-789-5400, sawtoothsaddle.com

STS Ranch Rope
The ropes Texas cowboys used in the late 1800s were almost exclusively made of hemp, imported from Southeast Asia. Often these ropes were called Manila—a nod to the material’s origin—grass ropes, or whale line, since the only place cowboys could order rope was from companies manufacturing it for sailing purposes. Today, though, the ropes most similar to the old grass ropes are made of polyester. Cactus Ropes makes this rope with the guidance of world champion calf roper and ranch cowboy Stran Smith. It’s a 100% poly, 35-foot, tough all-purpose, four-strand rope for daily ranch use. $46
cactusropes.com

Y Back Leather Suspenders
These inch wide, fully adjustable, made-in-the-USA, Wahmaker suspenders hook on to britches using leather attachment loops and feature a “Y” back for a comfortable fit. $40
714-717-7218, vintagewesternwear.com