Skip to content

Cowboy Wild Rags

It depends on the occasion. Are you working outside? Going to a social event? Cowgirl Magazine compiled a few videos on three ways to tie your wild rag. A South Dakota cowgirl shares her own video on how to tie a square knot.

Do wild rags keep you warm?
Wild rags come in many different colors, patterns and sizes. They’re generally made of silk or polyester, and can be as bold or as subtle as the wearer desires. They provides warmth when the temperature drops and relief from the heat (as well as curbs neck wrinkles) when the sun is blazing.
The wild rag was historically worn by cowboys and cowgirls; as far back as the 1800’s. The primary use was protection from the cold, dirt, sun and wind. Way back when, these scarves were made out of anything a cowboy could find to cut and tie around his neck. More traditionally, and recently, wild rags are made of silk. The Jenni Earle Wild Rag is made of wonderfully soft (and regionally sourced) cotton — so it’s extra soft right out of the box.

Why do cowboys wear kerchiefs?
The very first cowboy wild rags were worn for warmth in cold temperatures, and for protection from sun, wind, and dirt anytime. In many regions wild rags are still a standard part of cowboy dress whether it be for work or social occasions.
A wild rag is also a beautiful scarf to add to your wardrobe. You don’t have to use it for dirt, grime or horse stuff – if it makes you look good, feel good and walk a little taller, then that’s good enough.

I was hiking with my mom the other week and she used her be Brave bandana to carry snacks: she tied each corner to its opposite, creating a small pouch and then threaded her backpack waist strap through so it hung by her waist. Cowboys use wild rags to filter water, use as a napkin and – my favorite – cover the eyes of a spooked horse to calm him down.

The best thing about this piece is a versatility of style and function. Wear it to keep you warm, or wear it with a leather slide for a more stylish look.A bandana is really well-known, but a wild rag, not so much. Some argue that a bandana is a wild rag, but a wild rag isn’t a bandana. Functionally speaking, they are one and the same: a stylish, yet very functional piece of fabric. The Cowboy Accountant describes it well in this post: a scarf worn about the neck for both work and play. In cold climates the wild rag is wrapped twice around the neck (that extra-large size I talked about) to keep the wearer warm.

Basically, a large bandana. We wanted you all to have another way to wear something that reminds you to be your bravest and most authentic self. Jenni Earle is also committed to providing something for you to wear that you can use to accomplish whatever you find yourself doing today.I hope you all saw our newest product and read all about our launch. We are so excited about the first Jenni Earle Wild Rag. Our navy blue and embroidered rag is 4x the size of a bandana for extra wrapping, tying, styling and warmth!

I have ordered 3 times, and every time I am amazed at the quality and detail of these wild rags. I dress Western every day of the year. I had bought ‘silk wild rags in some of Texas’ biggest and best stores: Every one pales in comparison to the products that come out of WWRC. Huge selection of colors, patterns, very reasonable prices for the products, silks & cottons, and customer service all in one spot. These are practical, splendid and do the job for those of us who wear Western. Probably great for reenactors, too. I 8 have silks & cottons and look for more.I just received 2 rags in the mail today. I’m unfamiliar with these items so I did some online shopping around. I emailed 3 or 4 companies with a few questions. Their email response was very pleasant. They took the time to answer my questions and was very helpful. Overall the best customer service through email, without even making a purchase yet. I made it a point to buy from Wild West Rag Co based on that alone. The items are beautiful, much better than I could have expected, MADE IN USA. I will be ordering more in the future. THANK YOU!I looked around for wild rags for a while and stumbled across Wild West Rag Co. Their collection is extensive with patters and colors that I would imagine would suit almost everyone. I loved almost every one I looked at. I settled on a brown paisley rag to go with my show pad. Shipping was extremely fast, customer service was excellent, and the quality of the rag is the best I’ve seen. Will 100% recommend them to my friends and family! Polyester satin is synthetic and therefore easier to produce in large quantities. It can be manufactured and easily incorporated into many different products, making this fabric common and inexpensive. Our first collection of TukTuk wild rags featured Australian brumbies, Western Australian Silver Princess Eucalypt blossoms, Southern Australien Desert Peas with their striking colour and shape and our take on modern paisley patterns. These designs are printed on the most beautiful 12 mm silk twill and measure a generous 100 x 100 cm. We are now working on a smaller version swell, more to follow soon..As most of our followers have probably figured out, we are sticklers for quality and always strive to develop our own unique designs. Whilst we love a traditional paisley pattern, we wanted a modern take on it, and we also wanted scarves with Australian inspired motives.When you feel a polyester satin fabric, it has a distinctly slippery feel under your fingertips. But while it is slick, it isn’t necessarily soft. Pure silk fabric – made from a natural protein – provides both a smooth and silky feel that man-made textiles have not been able to replicate.

Why do cowboys wear wild rags?
The wild rag was historically worn by cowboys and cowgirls; as far back as the 1800’s. The primary use was protection from the cold, dirt, sun and wind.
Silk reduces friction on our skin and, since pure silk is made from natural silk fibres, the protein filaments make it hypoallergenic and great for sensitive skin. For us here at TukTuk making scarves made from a natural product is the obvious choice since we wear them often next to our skin at the neck and close to our faces.Today, wild rags are worn not only by Cowboys and Cowgirls, but they have evolved from just being practical neckwear to becoming a fashion accessory. Being worn as elegant headscarves (think Grace Kelly, or, more recently, Anne Hathaway), tied to handbags or hats as hatbands, or used as colourful ponytail ties or belts, and even as stylish bandanas for our dogs, just to name a few.

Do guys wear wild rags?
A wild rag is a scarf worn around the neck by cowboys and others involved in western heritage. They are worn by both cowboys and cowgirls, for both work and for play. But fast forward to today’s times and you won’t just see a cowboy wearing one.
More traditional scarves often feature Western themes and can be worn with scarf slides to hold them in place or simply draped around the neck and tied. Our silk scarves and wild rags will always be exclusive to a small club of women who appreciate these scarves for what they are: an elegant and practical accessory that elevates a stylish equestrian outfit. We love scarves and, we firmly believe no woman can ever have enough of them. They feel luxurious next to your skin, protect you from the weather, and add colour and personality. Just adding a scarf to an outfit will change often change the whole feel and look.Silk fabric is made from natural fibre produced from the silkworm and has been manufactured for thousands of years; it has built its reputation as a symbol of luxury throughout the ages.We have only made limited numbers of some of the prints. They are marked ‘Limited Edition’ on our website. Once they are gone, we won’t make the exact ones again.

In many regions of the US, wild rags are still a standard part of a Western outfit, whether it be for working cattle or after hours. In Australia, these scarves are not widely known as wild rags yet. However, they have become increasingly popular over the last few years, particularly with Western and pleasure riders training and competing in Reigning, Cutting, Ranch Riding, Cowboy Dressage and Equitation.
Silk production is labour intensive and, it is a complex process to manufacture pure silk and have it woven into fabric. It requires careful nurturing of silkworms and handling of the natural fibres. All of this determines the price. Silk will always be more expensive than polyester and a far superior product.A ‘wild rag’ is basically a scarf, initially worn by American Cowboys or cattlemen whilst working out on the ranges and exposed to harsh sun, wind and dust. The story goes that back in the 1800s, the first versions were cut up feed and flour bags draped around their necks and faces for warmth and to keep dust from entering their noses whilst mustering and droving cattle. Besides protection from the elements, the many uses for wild rags included straining drinking water, use as a bandage, tourniquet or arm sling or hanky. Even a scared horse or beast would often calm down when blindfolded with a wild rag, and they came in handy as a temporary fix for failing saddle rigging or rope replacement.

Did cowboys wear bandana?
Cowboys donned bandanas and wild rags (the silk version of a bandana) beginning in the mid-1800’s. Originally cut from flour sacks, the 30×40 inch square cloth was most commonly tied around the neck or face for protection.
Satin, on the other hand, is a type of fabric weave. The weave produces a lustrous sheen on one side of the fabric commonly associated with satin. However, “satin” can actually be made using various materials, including polyester, and it is a poor substitute for silk in many ways.

The first bandana ever produced in America had an exalted image of George Washington perched atop a horse, surrounded by military paraphernalia and the words ‘liberty’ and ‘independence’ in bold letters. This illustration, commissioned by Washington’s wife, Martha, and created by printmaker, John Hewson, was the catalyst for America’s mainstream interest in the bandana. Since the American Revolution the bandana has gone through many iterations, proving to be a small but mighty object with a message. It was used as a form of propaganda by Eisenhower, worn in solidarity during the Industrial Workers’ Strikes of the 1910’s, tucked into back pockets as code during the Gay Rights Movement, and continues to remain an essential part of our cultural fabric.

One can think of very few wardrobe items as versatile as the bandana. What else could you tie around your neck for warmth, tie up your hair for practicality, tie around your wrist for flair, or tie around your face for protection? A scarf doesn’t count.

Cowboys donned bandanas and wild rags (the silk version of a bandana) beginning in the mid-1800’s. Originally cut from flour sacks, the 30×40 inch square cloth was most commonly tied around the neck or face for protection. They were also used as bandages for human or horse injury, for makeshift saddle rigging, and as potholders or dish rags. Silk became the most popular fabric because of its versatility no matter the season; it could wick moisture away in summer months and provide warmth in winter months. Today’s working ranchers still wear silk wild rags, the only difference being changes in color dyeing practices and patterns. At Ranchlands, our team uses them as a layering tool in the winter, and since heat increases the amount of dust and dirt in the air during the summer, wild rags operate as face shields and “sunscreen.” And, with the terrible reality of the pandemic, we often wear bandanas into town, too, and use them as face masks at the grocery store.
Paisley, the classic pattern imprinted on bandanas, was originally created in Kashmir (formerly part of the Persian empire) hundreds, if not thousands, of years ago; the exact origin date is debated by scholars. This design made its way to India where textile makers used a traditional tie-dying process known as “bandhani” to produce vibrant cotton and silk scarves. By the late 18th and 19th century, the Dutch East India Company was importing these “kerchiefs,” as they were referred to then, to Europe. They quickly gained popularity due to their style, function, and feel, and the French, German, and, most notably Scottish, founded factories and began to dye and sell bandanas themselves to meet the demand of this new market.

Why are wild rags called wild rags?
“In the cowboy culture, we refer to it as a ‘wild rag’ because that’s always what it has been called,” I inform them. “The wild rag has many uses. Mostly for warmth, keep branding smoke or dust out of one’s face, as a pot holder around the camp fire, a tourniquet, blindfold a horse and a arm sling, or splint!”
With so much choice out there, I hope you won’t do what some cowboys of yore did when they couldn’t afford a cotton wild rag. Then again, wearing a flour sack in place of a fancy wild rag might become a new fashion statement thanks to you.

Last but not least, consider the colors and patterns. If you’re buying a working wild rag, I’d say, choose a color that doesn’t show dirt easily. Earthy brown, dark beige, deep green or blues all suit the bill. On the other hand, if you’re buying a wild rag as a fashion statement, when choosing the color, consider the outfits you’ll be wearing it with. Same goes for the pattern, and it need not be said that, if you dress more traditionally western, you should go for paisley, solid colors, and damask prints. If you are a fashion-forward kind of person, there are plenty of other patterns out there on the market to choose from, starting with bold florals, animal prints, stripes, checks, and even novelty prints.
Wild rags come in different fabrics and sizes, but the most popular ones are made of either silk or polyester. Some people wouldn’t consider anything but silk, and I don’t blame them. Silk is a natural fiber, soft, silky, strong, and durable. However, there’s one downside to silk wild rags: you’ve got to wash them by hand. Not only that, but no harsh detergents should be used when washing anything made from silk. Instead, use a mild liquid soap designed for washing delicate fabrics. A mild hair shampoo would do in a pinch. Polyester, on the other hand, although made from artificial fibers, can be as smooth, soft and drapey as silk, but it can easily be tossed into a washing machine for a thorough cleaning. So, if you’re using your wild rag while you work, I’d say, go with polyester unless you absolutely abhor it.

First, you need to think when you’ll be wearing your wild rag. If you are looking for one to wear while working on the ranch, you need something that washes easily, and is big enough to cover your neck, and mouth and nose when needed. On the other hand, if you are wearing it only as a fashion statement, you can do whatever your heart desires.
Wild rags come in different sizes, but most common ones are 22″x22″, 36″x36″ and 44″x44″. The 22 inch wild rags are small and suited for lil’ cowboys and cowgirls, or for a quick fashion statement with your fancy outfit, but not as a working wild rag. If you’re looking to get one to wear while you work, go with 36 inch or 44 inch size.Do you have to be a wild child to wear a wild rag? Nope! Just a cowboy or a cowgirl, or a wannabe. Since the mid-1800’s, wild rags have been a staple of cowboys’ and cowgirls’ outfits, and that’s not for fashion reasons either.

What is cowboy bandana called?
Cowboy bandanas go by many names, bandana, mascada (scarf, in Spanish), kerchief, or buckaroo scarf. Bandanas have always been one of the most valuable tools of a cowboy. Even though they go by a lot of different names, one thing is certain- no real cowboy in the old west would work without his cowboy bandana.
While quite a few wear them as a fashion statement these days, wild rags have a real, honest-to-goodness purpose. In winter time, they should keep your neck warm, wile any other time of the year, they should protect you from sun, wind, dust and dirt. So, how do you choose one that suits you best? Read on to find out.I’m a full-time CPA and a part-time cowboy, aspiring horseman, cast-iron cooker, and cowboy wisdom enthusiast. Together with my horse, Whiskey, we tell the stories of the American West and the Cowboys who feed a nation. The world needs more cowboys, so I’ve partnered with Medium, one of the premier blogging platforms, to share the history of the American Cowboy with a broader audience. View all posts by Chip Schweiger, The Cowboy Accountant™

For those who don’t want to knot their scarf, a “scarf slide” is a popular and stylish option. It might be a sterling silver concho, a slide built from sweet iron with your cattle brand on it, or a slide of braided rawhide. Your choices here are also endless.
If you’ve ever watched a western movie, no doubt you will recognize a cowboy by their ten gallon hat, the jingle-jangle of their spurs, and a dusty bandana tied around their neck. And, in those very same movies, the bandit bank-robbers usually had a bandana pulled up to cover their face and mask their identity. While this unique piece of fabric goes by many names — bandana, kerchief, mascada (scarf, in Spanish), or buckaroo scarf — I call mine, a “wild rag.” They were and still are one of the most valuable tools of a cowboy. And, even though they go by a lot of different names, one thing is certain. No real cowboy in the old west would work without his wild rag.

I have a growing collection of wild rags, and I wear mine a lot. While my friends of the cowboy class are generous with their compliments and admiration, the uninitiated sometimes give me funny looks accompanied by an attempt at wit. My typical response of, “Well, partner, if it’s good enough for John Wayne, it’s good enough for me!” usually gets a wry smile, if nothing else.
And, if you’re like me and live where mosquitoes, no-see-umms, and other pesky blood-suckers frequent, try taking a cotton bandana, spray it liberally with your favorite bug juice, and tie it around your neck in a simple overhand knot to keep your neck bug-free!

Increasingly, I’m seeing wild rags attached to boots, used as belts, and even being worn on the wrist as a bracelet by fashion-forward gypsy cowgirls. The traditional cowboy wild rag has even been adopted by those who have a never roamed the open range or thrown a leg over a well-worn saddle on the back of a trusted horse. Wild rags can make a plain dress look more formal for evening wear, be worn as a head covering rather than a hat, or be worn with a blazer and jeans for those in the city browsing a museum. Basically, any time you want to add a bit of western style and cowboy panache, I believe you’ll find the wild rag to be the right choice.
Wild rags date back as far as the mid 1800’s, when cowboys were known to use old flour sacks cut into squares when fabric such as a cotton was either too expensive are hard to come by while living on the range. The very first cowboy wild rags were worn for warmth in cold temperatures, and for protection from sun, wind, and dirt anytime. In many regions wild rags are still a standard part of cowboy dress whether it be for work or social occasions.

Do cowboys still wear wild rags?
In many regions of the US, wild rags are still a standard part of a Western outfit, whether it be for working cattle or after hours.
They come in a wide variety of colors, sizes, and fabrics, with silk and polyester being some of the most popular fabric choices joining cotton and even linen. I believe, though, the best wild rags are made of silk. There’s a practical reason cowboys prefer silk — it’s the most absorbent of all natural fibers, giving it excellent wicking properties. It’s also warmer than wool in the winter, and softens well with age. Common patterns are paisley, jacquards, solids, and printed cattle brands, but in true cowboy ingenuity, most any patterned fabric can be made into a wild rag. Today, most wild rags are in sizes from 30 to 40 inches square or more. Yes, there are wild rags made smaller, but a cowboy would probably never have use for one that small. Why? Read on mi amigo.A wild rag is a scarf worn around the neck by cowboys and others involved in western heritage. They are worn by both cowboys and cowgirls, for both work and for play. But fast forward to today’s times and you won’t just see a cowboy wearing one. Wild rags have gone from neckwear to headwear to belts and, even, as pony tail holders in just the last few years.

Bandana. Neck Rag. Wild Rag. Kerchief. Buckaroo Scarf. Call it whatever you want. But, if you’re planning to head out west to do any roping, riding, or ranching, or if you simply want to add a bit of style to your western attire when in the city, you might want to pick up a few of these handy squares of silk. Have fun with them. Show the world your personality. Just remember to wear ’em confidently as you celebrate the heritage of the American West.
When I think about a wild rag, my first thought is of cowboys on cattle drives in the old west. I think of the dust and the dirt, and I realize the good guys often wore their bandanas pulled up over their faces, just like the bandits in the movies. Hiding one’s face, or keeping out trail dust aren’t the only ways a buckaroo scarf can be used, though. Of all the items a cowboy might own, wear, or keep close at hand, nothing serves more purposes than this unique piece of square cloth. So, let’s look at how cowboys use a wild rag:Wild rags are knotted in as many different ways as one can imagine, and true to cowboy culture, purpose is more important than convention. In the process, individual style is born. In cold climes, the primary purpose of a wild rag is to keep cold air away from the neck, so the scarf is often double-wrapped around the neck and tucked into the collar to keep the ends from flapping in the wind. On warmer days, a buckaroo may leave the ends out to make them easily accessible. Heading to a barn dance? You can tie your wild rag lower. Want to see the local rodeo when it comes to town? A wild rag is a great choice to punch things up. Tuck it in, leave it out — the choice is yours! But, whatever you do, there’s only one rule: wear your wild rag with confidence.