As the temperatures are in the 100s I look at many uncle and grandpa as they wear their long sleeve western shirts. They always told me that long sleeves are cooler. I'm not so sure I am 100% convinced. Both of them only wear western shirts. No t-shirts, polos, etc.... Then I started to think about the differences. Some call them button-up shirts while others call them button-down. Not sure that one or the other is correct. This again got me thinking about the history of the western shirt.
Fashion Friday it is!
The first western shirts were of the pull over design with laces or buttons running about a third of the way down the shirt. They were home spun and made of lightweight cotton materials in the warmer climate regions of the southwest. These shirts were usually white or off-white in color and very rarely came with a collar attached. Many of the shirts had an option to attach a collar when the need arose.
Of course the southwest wasn't the only place with cowboys and western shirts. In regions such as Colorado and Montana, cowboys were faced with harsh winters that required heavier and warmer materials for their shirts than their southwestern counterparts. In these regions, wool was the material of choice. The colors of the shirts also ran much darker in these parts and also unlike the southwestern shirts, these came with a roll over collar.
The more widely recognizable western shirt is a characterized by a stylized yoke in front and in back. It is generally constructed of denim or heavy fabric with long sleeves. Those were often seen with elaborately decorated piping, embroidered roses and a contrasting yoke. In the 1950s these were frequently worn by movie cowboys like Roy Rogers
The shirts and styles vary today. Popular brands like Wrangler, Roper, and Cinch are what many country men wear. Stripes and plaids are more common yet the yoke is still prominent in many shirts. Every once in awhile you see a cowboy wearing the vintage or retro shirt like that above.