- Issue Time
- Oct 16,2020
western buckle; western cowboy belt buckle; western belt buckle
Cowboy Western Buckle Timeless Fashion
Buckles and cowboys
Before the 1920s, cowboys didn’t actually wear belt buckles. Many cowboys didn’t even wear belts and today, some still don’t. Most cowboys by the late 1800s actually wore suspenders. Suspenders did the simple job of keeping the pants up just fine, and were very functional for the work of a ranch lifestyle – riding, roping, saddling, tending to and caring for animals, building, and any other tasks of ranch management. In fact, the entire attire of the cowboy in the 1800s was essentially functional, with many cowboys wearing second-hand clothing to work in, since at the time clothing was not mass-produced but custom and tailor-made.
During the Civil War, from 1861 to 1865, the military started to use the friction belt buckle, the type of buckle where you pull the belt behind and through the buckle to keep the belt in place. It doesn’t have a prong and a hole. Those buckles were mostly made of brass, and as the war waged, and buckles were mas produced in large quantities, they became more widespread and some cowboys started wearing them too.
It wasn’t however until the early 1900s, that trend, fashion and style began to figure into the cowboy’s dress. This was the time that Hollywood began to romanticize, on the screen, the clothing of the cowboy. A distinct cowboy image began to come clear, with Hollywood finding ways to enhance elements that seemed particularly unique. In these early films, cowboys were wearing regular belts and buckles but by the 1950s, cowboys on the big screen had begun to sport larger, shinier western belt buckles with Western-related scenes and imagery. These images had a major influence on the cowboy’s pride and fashion sense, and cowboys everywhere adapted, in part, to the images on the screen. Although these large belt buckles that were bulkier were not necessarily conducive to the kind of work cowboys did, many cowboys’ dress ethic shifted from merely practical to stylish.
Hollywood and the western belt buckles
When the 1900s came, Hollywood began to romanticize the clothing of cowboys in films by enhancing the unique elements in a cowboy’s dress. In the early films, cowboys used to wear regular belts and buckles, but when the 1950s came, cowboys in films began sporting larger and shinier Western belt buckles. These films were so influential that cowboys adopted the fashion, as well. The first Western buckles were adapted from gun belts worn by heroes in the movies. Even though wearing belts is not necessarily conducive to the kind of work they do, at times style won out over practicality.
Buckles to preserve the history
Some silversmiths who make Western belt buckles today are influenced by its early styles. For instance, Clint Orms, a Texas silversmith, creates classic belt buckles. This is his way of preserving its early designs. David Dear’s belt buckle designs, on the other hand, were inspired by the buckles worn by Gene Autry in the 1935 Western Sci-Fi, “The Phantom Empire”.
Today, Western belt buckles aren’t just for cowboys but are also popular for those who appreciate Western style and especially country music. When you shop for belt buckles, you will find out that the most highly-priced buckles on the market are the handmade ones. You can, however, find great-looking buckles with basic metals. You will be able to find many styles and options, and of course, a wide range of prices. Have fun shopping for a great Western belt buckle and to show your style!