Rugged, Hunky Cowboy Attire

Stacey KayneIn my last post we  took a peek into my heroine’s carpetbag, giving us a view of Lily’s attire.  Last week I received the cover for THE GUNSLINGERGUNSLINGER’S UNTAMED BRIDE, and I was thrilled to see Lily in the background wearing a fabulous fashionable dress of her era.  Juniper is looking deliciously dangerous, his Stetson tugged low on his brow, hands hovering above his revolvers…his range coat whipping in the wind–which hopefully isn’t too chilling, as he didn’t have time to pull on his shirt.

I thought I’d take a look at the guys this time around.  Namely of the Cowboy variety.  While Juniper Barns is an ex-gunfighter in THE GUNSLINGER’S UNTAMED BRIDE, he’s also an ex-cowpuncher/cowpoke. I read somewhere that these terms came into use in the stockyards where cowboys used poles to prod (punch/poke) cattle into the appropriate pen and up the ramps of  loading chutes. 

When I think of cowboys, I automatically think wide-brimmed hats, range coats and cowboy Western Cowboyboots! In the book I’m currently writing (third in my WILD series) Garret Daines is a cowboy to the root of his soul.  Raised on the cattle trail, he’s finally owner of his own cattle ranch–which he’ll have to fight to keep.  His cowboy attire isn’t just hunky…it’s necessity, designed for his life in the saddle, and as much a part of his job as his horse and trusty cowdog.  Garret’s dog is a fun addition in this book.  Boots was a Christmas gift in the first WILD book, and saves Garret’s life in his own book. 

Here’s some fun facts on rugged Cowboy duds, listed head-to-toe, and how they protect and assist him:

Cowboy Attire

Cowboy Hat – a cowboy’s trademark, and usually made of high quality, durable felt. The wide brim shaded his eyes and protected his face and neck from the sun, as well as tree branches. In the rain, his hat acted as a mini umbrella and kept him warm–and could also be used to dunk into a watering hole for a drink.

Bandana – or as Lily calls it, “a multi-purpose tool”, provided extra sun protection and was also used as a dust mask while driving herd.  Juniper found his handy for tying up an unruly woman, and then as a useful bandage after her retaliation. 

Long Johns – while not the sexiest of his attire, these one-piece suits were usually made of red wool and served an essential purpose.  They kept him warm in winter, and in the summer, they also kept him cool.  The wool would absorb his sweat, acting as a coolant, and preventing his shirt from rotting.  Juniper likely could have benefited from a pair, as his shirt seems to have turned to dust  🙂

Shirt – long sleeved with a collar, even in the summer, again to provide protection from the sun, thorns, branches, and steers. 

maverick-2.jpgDuster – Long coat, range coat, this cowboy jacket was usually made of oiled canvas and would act as a rain slicker in wet weather and also protected him from the dust and thorny scrub.

Gloves – A cowboy needed a pair of buckskin gloves to prevent rope burns.

Pants – My cowboys tend to like denim britches, though wool was the most common.  Levi’s were available in the 1800’s and worn by some cowboys, but they began mainly as mining attire.  Suspenders were also used to hold up his britches.  Belts and decorative belt buckles didn’t gain popularity until the 1900’s.

Chaps – a sexy addition to any cowboy, or cowgirl.  Chaps protected pants and legs from thorny scrub, onrey steers, and biting horses.  They kept a cowboy dry in the rain and worked as a an anchor to hold him in the saddle of a bucking horse.  Chaps come in a few varieties, and I’ve used different styles in my books.  In MUSTANG WILD, Skylar wears armitas chaps, which are fringed on the side, ankle length and held in place by the buckle above the posterior and three straps that wrap around the backs of her legs.  In MAVERICK WILD Chance wears batwing chaps, they go clear to his boots, and flair wide down the leg and at the bottom, flapping out when he walks across the scene.  In the third WILD book, Garret is ranging during a Wyoming winter, and he wears woolie chaps, made of fluffy buffalo hide–an extra layer of warmth.  These fury chaps were also made from shaggy sheep wool.

Cowboy Boots – unlike the verse of a certain song, a cowboy’s boots were NOT made for walking.  It’s been said that a cowboy would try to do just about anything from a saddle, and for a good reason, his boots are made for riding.  The pointed toes and wedged heels didn’t make for comfortable long-distance treks afoot, but they worked great for slipping into stirrups, Western Spursand the tall shafts protected them from snake bites, thorns and horns. 

Spurs – On a large ranch, cutting horses (used to herd and sort/cut cattle) were rarely groomed which resulted in thick, matted horsehide.  Spurs were not meant to hurt the horses, but to act as a prod through densely matted horsehair.  In a lot of the old west movies, spurs jingle…but that wasn’t a necessity–jinglebobs were added decorations, as were silver conches on a the spur straps. The styles of spurs are endless.

Saddle – as much a part of a cowboy’s attire as his chaps.  While a cowboy rarely owned the horse he rode, he did own his saddle. Spending up to fifteen hours a day on his horse, a good Western Cowboysaddle was essential to his lifestyle, and could last up to thirty years of wear and tear.

Last but not least, his gun belt.  Most cowboys were packing, wearing a low riding holster which hung loosly at the hip.  Riding through rough country posed many dangers…coyotes, cougars, bears, and cattle rustlers.

Put that all together, and you’ve got a rugged and ready cattle wrangler.

So…what are the first images that come to mind when YOU think of a cowboy???

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52 thoughts on “Rugged, Hunky Cowboy Attire”

  1. A cowboy to me is someone tough and handsome in his western garb riding his beautiful horse to wherever he is needed and helping and protecting the women of the West.

  2. When I think of a cowboy, I usually think 1st about his Stetson down over his eyes, then I get the image of a well formed man, wearing all the things you listed Stacey! I love to see a cowboy wearing a gunbelt for some reason, to is just sexy!

  3. Shari C’s image is a good description of what comes to mind when I think of a cowboy too….but…

    When I think of a cowboy, my mind creates an image of Alex McArthur in Desperado or George Strait.

    Both make my heart skitter. 🙂


  4. Okay, first off…before I hopped over here this morning I got your newsletter in my email and I just about fell out of my chair! That cover is HOT! Just LOVE it!

    When I think of a cowboy I envision a lot of the same things you listed…rough and rugged, well-built with broad shoulders and strong arms. Good fitting jeans and shirt or not, handsome.

    Trace Adkins and Tim McGraw come to mind.

    Love the blog and LOVE LOVE LOVE your cover! Can’t wait to get it.

  5. Cowboys–what’s not to love?–My 1st image is a cowboy hat and dusty jeans. I love the ruggednesss of cowboys. I love their politeness. I love their tanned skin and strong hands and arms. I love their outdoor smell(not the horse poop kind). I agree with PamT–I was obsessed with Alex Mcarthur forever and George Strait is the ultimate cowboy!! I love it all!! Thanks for your books and their great covers!!

  6. When I think of cowboys, I think of hats, boots and lassos. Rugged men who can handle rugged country.

    Thanks for the explanation/description of cowboy attire. I’m new to Western wear and it helped a lot. I love learning new stuff. 🙂

    Like Taryn, I loved the newsletter, Stacey!

  7. That cover! Omigosh! Pass the smelling salts, Matilda, I’m havin’ heart palpitations!

    P.S. Great blog, Stacey. I learned some new things. And I happen to think those old faded long johns were sexy.

  8. When I think of Cowboys I think HOT!! faded Levi’s, cowboy boots, white tight T-shirt (or not, even better) a little ruff around the edges and a nice tushy LOL.
    Stacey I will definatly be bidding on your offer for the Diabeties Auction what a nice set you have put up for bidding.

  9. Rough, rugged, tight jeans, tight butt, lean and sinewy. Got to have the hat – black. Hair that’s just a little too long, moody expression and definately a little bad boy in him.

    Whew, that was fun to picture! Looking forward to the new book.

    Thanks Stacey!

  10. I’m not too proud to admit that, when we last saw your cover, Stacey, I didn’t notice the woman in the background. LOL
    Guess my eyes were captivated elsewhere, huh?

    I loved this post. Loved the pictures.
    Writing about western wear is such a part of any scene. In my current WIP I’ve got a white woman raised by Indians and now returned to the whites. She is in constant aggravation at having to wear gingham when her doeskin dress is so much more comfortable, practical and pretty.

    I love adding the jingle of spurs when a cowboy comes into the room.

    I’ve debated letting my cowboys were blue jeans. I suppose it’s not historically accurate but I just so want them in denim. That’s my own 2008 twist on what’s cool, I suppose.

    And for some reason, I love it that my Microsoft Word spell checker always capitalizes the word Stetson. I want to use it as a generic word for hat.
    He tugged his stetson low over his eyes

    But my computer insists I do it right. I don’t know why, but every time Word flips that small ‘s’ to a capital ‘S’ it just kind of tickles me.

    I know….get a life. 🙂

  11. Good morning, everyone! Wow, I love all the fabulous descriptions of cowboys. I’ll tell y’all, I’m beginning t think of hot abs when I think of a cowboy 😉

    Thanks for providing a wondefully romantic image, Shari C. The cowboy code of honor is a much a part of him as his duds, huh?

  12. Wow, Stacey, thanks for the education on gear and attire for a Western newbie here 🙂

    I do always imagine a cowboy with a well-worn (and therefore well-fitting) outfit and Stetson (Mary, you just want to help “Stetson” make the transition from brand-name to generic, like “Kleenex” ;))

    And Stacey, that’s an eye-catching cover! (“But why isn’t he wearing a shirt?” “Hush up and enjoy the view, pesky brain!”)

  13. LOL, Taryn! He’s scrumptious, ain’t he??? I sooo love the way he wears his hat 🙂

    A picture of Tim McGraw is guaranteed to capture my interest *g*–another man who knows how to wear a cowboy hat 😉

    Thanks for signing up for my Newsletter, Taryn!

  14. LOL, Elizabeth 🙂 Glad I could provide some new tidbits! Cowboy research is oh so much fun 😉 About those long johns…I also read how on long drives, a cowboy usually never took off those long underwear…and I’d imagine that wool suit could likely stand up and walk off on its own by the end of a long drive *ggg*

    Thank you for posting!

  15. When I hear the word ‘cowboy’, I think of . . . rugged, sexy, gentleman, cowboy hat, jeans, cowboy boots, and a sexy voice a la Josh Turner. *sigh* I just love Josh Turner . . .

  16. Hi Lori! Don’t ya just love how chaps frame those shapley cowboy backsides??? 😉

    Thanks so much for checking out my donation to Brenda Novak’s Auction!! Brenda is an amazing author, and the work she puts into this auction to raise money for Juvenile Diabetes (which her youngest son has) is just phenominal. I hope everyone will take time to go check it out:

    My “Saddle Up” Tote Bag is listed in the Gift Baskets category. And Brenda is still taking contributions, for anyone interested in donating to the auction 🙂

    Thanks for your post, Lori–and for signing up for my newsletter!!

  17. Oooh yeah…that bad boy 🙂 I like a cowboy with a little recklessness in him 😉 Nothing sexier than a cowboy with a mischevious grin.

    Thank you for stopping in to post, Lisa!!

  18. Too funny about not noticing Lily on the cover, Mary! Juniper does steal the show 😉

    And hey, it’s a great life to be pondering ‘S’testons and how to clad our cowbooys in denim *ggg* I usually have my cowboys wear both wool and denim britches *g* Some historical accuracy to with the sexy butt-huggin’ man wear 😉

    Your heroine has smarts to prefer her doeskin dresses over the hot, flapping rags (as one of my heroes calls them *g*) conventional women were obligated to wear 😉

    Thanks so much for posting, Mary!!

  19. ROFL!!! Honestly, Fedora–THAT was my very first thought when I saw the cover 🙂 First, I laughed, because I found it hysterical that Juniper would pull on a duster without a shirt…though I was quickly convinced it would be much for fun to wash that chest than his shirt. *ggg* It’s sort of practical when you think about it like that 🙂

    I love his “make my day” expression, and the way his hair flips up around his ears…*sigh*. And I just love Lily’s dress–having put so much thought into her clothing, I squealed with delight when I saw her 🙂 Can’t wait for this book to hit the shelves—it was a blast to write!

    Thanks for posting, Fedora 🙂

  20. Hi Andrea! I can’t agree more. Josh Turner has rumbled his way into my top five of SEXIEST COWBOY EVER 😉 Sam Elliott holding the top spot, of course *g*

  21. Stacey, boy you sure got my mind full of images today! Love your new cover and I can’t see nary a pair of red longjohns on him to save my life. 🙂 For some reason, I just don’t see longjohns as sexy. But, give me a bare chest and some tight jeans and I go crazy. The hat and gun belt are added bonuses. I just never get tired of looking at a cowboy who’s tough and ready for a fight. Thanks for the sexy visuals you brought to today’s post! 🙂

    P.S. Can’t wait to read the book. I know it’ll be great.

  22. You know, Linda, your cover for THE COWBOY WHO CAME CALLING is my husband’s absolute favorite western romance oover *g* — he keeps askign why I cna’t have covers like that, and tels me to send it to my editors 😉 Of course he thinks they should consult him on such issues *lol* He is rather fond of my MUSTANG WILD cover 😉

    THANK YOU, Linda! I’m always happy to provide sexy cowboy visuals 🙂

  23. Stacey, you certainly did a lot of research on cowboys’ clothes. I wonder why the long john was in wool and not cotton. The more I look at you cover and the more I love it. From now when anyone talks about cowboy in front of me, I’ll picture Juniper, the cowboy par excellence.

  24. “the cowboy par excellence”…Aw, THANK YOU, Mona!!! He’s rather a charming fellow once you get to know him 😉

    Seems like just about everything was made of wool back then, I’ve not come across the source as to why.

    Thanks so much for stopping in to post 😀

  25. That is one awesome cover! No one will be able to walk past that book without it jumping into their hands. And I love that Lily’s there in the background. No shirt? Well, makes me think he’s just been too busy with HER to have pulled it on. Yeah, baby.

    Longjohns were called a union suit until 1943. Wonderful subject and great post. You know none of us can resists a cowboy!

    Love your name signature, too.

  26. Stacey – Very nice name signature!
    My heroes don’t wear longjohns much. When the shirt comes off, the heroine gets to see bare skin — and so do the readers. I do love your new cover.
    Oh and just about everything else a cowboy wears to me, is just plain sexy!

  27. Hi Cheryl and Charlene! Thanks for posting 🙂

    Glad you like the sig graphic — was it Cheryl who suggested using a book cover? That’s what I did–I cropped the name on my BRIDE OF SHADOW CANYON cover 😉 Thank you for the helpful tips!

    Union suit! That term totally elluded me last night–thank you, Cheryl. I’m with Charlene on the heroes in long underwear…mine tend to go without *g* Although, Garret gets caught in his union suit in MUSTANG WILD–being thriteen in that book, I thought it was cute 😀

  28. This subject is amusing in that the Rodeo has
    begun its run in Houston and one of our TV
    stations has been carrying coverage on rodeo
    wear. Please note that I said “rodeo” not
    “western”! They are definitely not the same!!
    Our western men have always been described as
    quiet, polite, loyal, supportive, and rugged,
    but not shirtless!

    Pat Cochran

  29. LOL!!! Oh so true, Pat. Rodeo gear has goten quite extensive. Actually, western wear in general underwent some big changes in the early 1900’s — belts and buckles becoming popular for one, due much in part to rodeos 😀 Because buckles were given as prizes.

    As for the shirtless cowboys…in the Romance Rodeo rippling middles seem to be a hot trend 😉

  30. Ok I’m dating myself here….Cowboy = John Wayne. Growing up he was the Ultimate Cowboy. Strong, silent, honest.
    NOw I have my own cowboy going on 28 years. My husband was a Sheriff’s Deputy when we met and for the last 5 years he’s into Single Action Shooting. That’s where he dresses in authintic cowboy gear and guns…..There has always been something about a cowboy……lucky me!

  31. Strong, siilent, honest….’nuf said 😉

    Great description, Kimberley! Wow, Single Action Shooting—that sounds like a blast. My hubby and I have been wanting to look into this. CONGRATULATIONS on 28 years of marriage to your cowboy 😀

  32. Ohhhhhhhhhhh! that is the best cover. He is perfect for the cowboy image. I loved Steve McQween in Wanted Dead or Alive. The way he walked with his gun belt riding low on his hip. It did it for me every time.

    Great Blog, Great Information!

  33. Hi Stacey, another great blog! The image that comes to mind when I think of a cowboy is Sam Elliott! 😉 I just watched Conagher again last night so he is on my brain! 😉

    I think it is so interesting how much of what the cowboys wore way back when, the cowboys of today are still wearing. It says a lot about how useful and essential the cowboy gear really is!

    My husband and I were watching 3:10 To Yuma (the new one) again recently and I told my husband the costume designer for that movie should have got an Oscar nomination just for the hats alone. I told my husband that you could tell a man’s profession by the kind of hat he wore, he was like HUH??? After I started telling about all the different hats, brims, etc. he was fasinated and really started paying attention to how many differnt kinds of hats there were. I was so proud of him! LOL

    I’ve already pre-ordered THE GUNSLINGER’S UNTAMED BRIDE Stacey, and I can’t wait til it comes out!!!! Woo-Hoo!

  34. The highlander of cowboys *g* There cna be only one…Sam Elliottt 😉

    Hi Missy! Thanks for stopping in, and for pre-ordering GUNSLINGER 😀 If I didn’t have a book due May 1st, I be trying to find a way to speed things along to July *lol*

    I totally agree about the costumes for 3:10 to Yuma—INCREDIBLE!!! I love that movie. I will be watching their hats a lot more closely the next time *g* Thank you for your post!

  35. Hiya Stacey!!

    Okay…what I think of when I see a cowboy are the two men who I feel are the quintissential cowboys. Not make-believe, not drugstore cowboys, but the real thing. My father was a real cowboy back in his day. He and his brothers owned a huge ranch and I was exposed to all sorts of cowboy things like riding, branding and even the butchering thing, which I disliked intensely as a child.

    The other is Chris LeDoux, songwriter, singer, rodeo bronc rider. If you’ve ever seen a picture of Chris LeDoux you will be treated to the real cowboy, which he was in between all the other things listed above. Chris passed on a year or two ago, but his legend lives on not only in his adopted hometown of Kaycee, but in all of Wyoming. Both were rough, tough men who lived by the law of the land and the ethical upbringing of their forefathers.

    I loved your explanations of the cowboy “tools” of the trade, too. I’ll add that the heels of cowboy boots were made so that the boot did not slip clear into the stirrup and cause a man to be dragged to death by a runaway horse. Don’t know when the safety factor came into being. I’m not very good at research.


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