Wild, Wild Rags
Tie up your perfectly punchy Western look.
By Raquel Lynn
You slip into your favorite cowboy boots, add a little turquoise jewelry to your wrist and apply your lipstick. Confidence exudes from within, and you lift your phone for an on-point selfie. You linger for a moment … something is missing from your look; then it comes to you—a wild rag! A must for effortless cowgirl style, vibrantly colored and patterned silk wild rags are sought out by ladies—and men—everywhere as the cherry on top of an outfit with Western flair.
Wild Rags with History
This accessory trend might be new to some, but wild rags—also known as bandanas, kerchiefs or mascadas—have been around since cowboys tamed the Wild West. Traditionally, these captains of the cattle drive used wild rags to protect their faces from wind, sun and dirt while riding, rounding up herds or working on the open range.
Designer Sharon Buys of Buck Wild Custom Wild Rags provides a little history lesson on the versatility of wild rags.
“[In the 1800s] wild rags were often made out of old flour sacks because it’s all there was,” she said. “They are multifunctional and can be used as pot holders, water filters, flags, blindfolds on spooked horses, temporary fixes on broken rigging, slings, tourniquets and wind breakers. I once saw a woman use one to swaddle a baby.”
Purchasing with a Purpose
Ranchers and cowboys shop with fabric and size in mind for their wild rags. When it comes to selecting a size, Sharon says it depends on the region. Buckaroos in northern Nevada, Oregon, Montana and Wyoming prefer larger rags, sometimes as big as 56 inches, which proves greater protection from colder climates.
Trisha Giles of Whipin Wild Rags shares Sharon’s passion for offering a variety of options.
“The size of the wild rag is as unique as the person wearing it,” Trisha said. “The standard size we offer is 36 by 36 inches; it’s a versatile size that can be worn in countless ways by everyone, from toddlers to adults.”
Chiffon, rayon, silk and polyester are the most common fabrics used in the garment. Chiffon is lightweight and perfect for warmer summer months. Rayon can be dyed to create rags in a variety of colors, but sometimes shrinks when washed. Silk is durable, absorbs moisture from sweat, and provides insulation—making it one of the most popular fabric choices. Polyester is easy to care for, so it’s a great option for low-maintenance rags. Each fabric offers advantages, and selection often comes down to personal preference, aesthetics and price.
Though rooted in history and functionality, wild rags certainly aren’t boring. When it comes to designing them for today’s younger crowd, Sharon doesn’t let fabric options limit her creations.
“I look for colors and designs first,” she said. “I don’t stick to ‘wild rag etiquette.’ If I did, I wouldn’t be able to be as creative as I wanted. I like to think outside the box.”
This is an excerpt from the full article—get the whole story in the Fall 2017 Chrome magazine, which is sent to all current APHA members. Not a member? Join or renew at apha.com/join.