Fashion, Leather Jacket Guide

Did Cowboys Wear Leather Jackets

Movies have a big impact on how we see our history. They may have the power to shape memories and perceptions of events that happened in reality. This article takes a look at Hollywood’s representation of cowboys, and the difference between what was reality and what was just fantasy.


The word “cowboy” conjures up many images, including that of a rugged figure clad in a leather jacket. But did cowboys actually wear leather jackets, or is that just a Hollywood stereotype?

Leather jackets were certainly popular among some cowboys, but they were far from universal. In fact, many cowboys preferred to wear wool coats or other types of outerwear. So while the leather jacket may be synonymous with the cowboy image in the popular imagination, the reality is that it was just one of many different types of clothing worn by these hardy frontier folk.

The Evolution of Cowboy Fashion

The image of the rugged cowboy, complete with leather jacket, is one that has been popularized by Hollywood. But did cowboys ever actually wear leather jackets?

It turns out that the answer is both yes and no. While there are many historical photos of cowboys wearing what appear to be leather jackets, these were typically made from sheepskin and not cowhide. And while cowhide was used for other items like chaps and saddles, it was generally too stiff and uncomfortable to be used for clothing.

So while leather jackets may not have been a part of traditional cowboy fashion, they certainly have become synonymous with the image of the cowboy in popular culture.

Historical Occasions for Leather Jackets

  1. The most likely historical occasion for leather jackets was during the American Civil War. officers in both the Union and Confederate armies wore them as part of their uniform.
  2. Another possibility is that cowboys might have worn them while working on cattle drives. The jacket would have protected them from the elements and from getting scratched by the cattle.
  3. It’s also possible that leather jackets were simply part of everyday life for people living in the American West during the 19th century. They would have been useful for protection from the sun, wind, and dust while doing chores or riding horses.

The Hollywood Stereotype of Cowboys

The stereotypical Hollywood cowboy is typically depicted as wearing a leather jacket. While it is true that some cowboys did in fact wear leather jackets, it was not nearly as common as the movies would have you believe. The vast majority of cowboys actually wore wool or cotton shirts and pants.


The answer to this question is a bit complicated. While it is true that some cowboys did wear leather jackets, it was certainly not the norm. It was more common for cowboys to wear wool coats or denim jackets. So, while the leather jacket stereotype may have some basis in reality, it is mostly a Hollywood creation.