Let’s set the scene: A dusty sunset, a rocky vista in the distance, and a comfy, broken-in Western shirt on your back. Western shirts are an all-American garment with rugged roots and heritage aplenty. These shirts first appeared, of course, out West around the same time as another staple of American heritage menswear: the five-pocket jean (and like jeans, Western shirts were made with cotton denim).
These strong and stylish button-downs were prized by miners and ranchers for their ability to withstand dust and debris. They also came with a few other hallmark features, like easy-access snap buttons often made from horn (nowadays, they’re made from horn, metal, and other materials). V-shaped flap snap pockets provided helpful utility, while the upper back of the shirt featured a yoke design for added durability. The yoke is a stitched shoulder panel, and the name comes from, yes, the yokes worn by oxen pulling wagons.
So when should you wear a Western shirt? These shirts are casually rugged and come in a variety of washes, from dark indigo to light blue, so think of it like any other shirt you’d wear casually with a contrasting pair of jeans. For example, you could pair a light blue cotton denim Western shirt and black jeans. (Avoid matching shades of denim.)
Or, feel free to style it untucked with classic tan chinos for a high-low style mix. Avoid wearing it in formal situations; it’s best as a weekend warrior you can wear unbuttoned over a classic tee, with sleeves rolled up. Some Western shirts lean dressier and even come with embroidered designs, but these days, the most common versions are made from simple, hard-wearing denim.
Now that you’re primed with the history of Western shirts and a few helpful style tips, its time to put some in your closet. These are the best Western shirts to wear right now.
The Best Western Shirts of 2022
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