Why Do Cowboys Starch Their Jeans? (What Is the Point of Starched Jeans?)

Why Do Cowboys Starch Their Jeans?

There are several reasons why real cowboys starch their jeans. It helps keep the jeans stiff and crease-free so they can easily be tucked into their boots. And it also helps them keep a neat, clean appearance while they’re working on the ranch or riding horses around town. It’s a look that is practical as well as fashionable.

There are two schools of thought when it comes to the answer to this question. One school of thought is that starched jeans keep your jeans looking new and crease-free. The other school of thought is that they prevent you from getting cow poo and mud on them, which is why they are worn with cowboy boots.

What Is the Point of Starched Jeans?

What is fascinating about this question is that the answers can be interpreted both literally and figuratively, depending on your personal interpretation of the question.

  1. A literal interpretation would be that starched jeans are less likely to get dirty because they are less likely to absorb stains and dirt from the ground. And as mentioned in my article What Jeans Do Cowboys Wear?. This would also mean that creasing your jeans could actually allow them to become more worn, as they would be less able to resist the mud and dirt.
  2. An interpretation of the question taken at face value would be that starching your jeans makes them look newer than non-starched jeans. They resist wrinkles, especially around any sitting or bending areas, and can make your denim look less worn after a few months of wear. Creases in your jeans can also cause parts of your legs to rub together uncomfortably.
  3. Many believe the main purpose of starching your jeans is to help keep them from fraying and ripping at the seams after repeated wear and tear. Starching also helps prevent the leg from getting holes in the knees due to constant activity while riding horses or working around the farm.

Many people believe that only professional cowboys wear starched jeans, but many country music singers like Garth Brooks and Tim McGraw are known to wear starchy jeans on stage and in public appearances.

And if you start looking at some of the bigger companies out there that make denim, you’ll start to see that many of them have been using starches for years to get their jeans right where they need to be before sending them off to stores. So yes, even big-name brands use starches on their denim!


Do Cowboys Crease Their Jeans?

Starching your denim jeans gives particular attention to creasing the front of your jean leg above the knee cap as well as tucking your pants into your boots or shoes.

For starters, crisp jeans look sharp. But there’s more to it than that. Starch helps jeans keep their shape longer. The starched material allows the denim to last for many years without fading or bagging out.

 

Wrangler Men's 0936 Cowboy Cut Slim Fit Jean, Prewashed Indigo, 32W x 32L

 

It’s a bit of an art to getting your jeans starched just right. It takes some experimentation to figure out how much starch you need and how long you need to iron them.

The resulting creases in your jeans are known as “whiskers.” The folds add a bit of style, but they also help the pants stay on when you’re riding a horse or driving your truck through rough terrain.


What Does Starch Do in Jeans?

What does starch do in jeans? It makes them stiffer and easier to press, which is a good thing for all of us. Starch is an organic substance that is produced from plants. This carbohydrate-based material has been used for years in the textile industry to stiffen clothes so they look cleaner, last longer, and are easier to press.

Starch can be found in the fabrics of all types of clothing, even those that have a permanent crease or shine. In fact, it’s nearly impossible to find pre-washed jeans that don’t have starch added to them before they’re sold.

Starch adds stiffness and helps keep jeans looking their best between washes. The more starch added to the fabric, the stiffer it will be. Jeans with a lot of starch will be tougher than jeans with only a little bit of starch added to them.

The amount of starch used on jeans varies depending on the type of jeans and what kind of effect the manufacturer is trying to achieve. All pants come in different sizes, cuts, styles, and colors so you’ll find everything from boot cut styles to skinny jeans to baggy pants that are made from different amounts of fabric and contain various amounts of starch.


Do Jeans Go Inside or Outside Cowboy Boots?

Yes and no. Yes, when riding horses and working. No, when going out for a night on the town or just wearing them casually. (Except for women – ladies look great with them tucked in.)

 

Wrangler Men's 13MWZ Cowboy Cut Original Fit Jean, Rigid Indigo, 36W x 34L

 

First, let’s look at the no…

Jeans look great with country-themed boots. The style is classic and goes well with anything from cowboy hats to checkered shirts. The only thing you have to worry about when wearing jeans and boots together is getting the jeans on over the top of the boots.

You’ve probably seen cowboys wearing their jeans inside their boots. This makes it easier for them to get in and out of their boots, but it also looks sloppy.

Men… If you want to look like a real cowboy, wear your jeans outside your boots. For women, there is no right or wrong way to wear your jeans with your boots, but you will look a little more attractive if you wear them inside instead of outside since this shows off your legs better.

Now, for the yes…

Why Do Cowboys Tuck Their Jeans into Their Boots?

Beyond simply keeping your jeans out of harm’s way, tucking them into your boots can make you safer by increasing your mobility in case of an emergency. If you need to jump off of a bucking bronco or dismount quickly for any other reason, having them tucked in will give you better access to your boot’s heel pull tabs for easy removal.

  1. Tucking your jeans into your boots also makes it easier to kick off your boots if you need to remove them quickly for any reason.
  2. And, it keeps your pants from getting dirty and dusty.
  3. Plus, if you’re planning on spending the day horseback riding or hiking through trails and brush, wearing tall boots with tucked-in jeans will protect your legs from getting scratched up by branches and brambles.

So, while some people may think that the whole tucked-jeans-into-boots thing is just a tradition or superstition, there really are practical reasons for doing so. In other words, even if you’re not a cowboy, you should still tuck your jeans into your boots — especially when it comes to working or riding horses.


Where Should Jeans Fall on Cowboy Boots?

There is a subtle balance between the denim and boot shaft length. Many people with short legs or small calves find that wearing jeans that are too long for their boots makes their ankles look large. On the other hand, if your jeans are too short, they will bunch up at the bottom of your boots and may even be visible from behind.

 

Wrangler Men's 0936 Cowboy Cut Slim Fit Jean, Prewashed Indigo, 32W x 32L

 

So… Select a pair of jeans that are long enough to cover your boots. If you can see the top of your cowboy boots when you’re standing still, they’re too short. If they drag on the ground while you walk, they’re too long. Find a happy medium and you’ll have the right length jeans for all occasions.


Were Jeans Made for Cowboys?

Many people mistakenly believe that jeans were designed for cowboys. In fact, they were designed to be worn while working in the coal mines of the 1870s. Levi Strauss himself began experimenting with denim after hearing about how durable miners’ clothing was and finding that denim’s durability far outstripped the cotton clothes of his day.

Because it is a strong material, it was later adopted by laborers, then by many other types of workers, and eventually by the general public. Jeans have been used as workwear ever since.

They certainly weren’t initially made for cowboys, until Levi Strauss saw a gap in the market and decided to make them for cowboys.

The original design was fairly plain and included no rivets or decorative stitching. But as jeans became popular, Westerners began adding decorations such as embroidery or metal studs to their clothing. Sometimes they chose cowboy themes, such as horses, lassos, and spurs.

Did Real Cowboys Wear Jeans?

You see, Levi’s were originally designed specifically for the cowboys in the Wild West. They were the first pair of jeans to have rivets in them, and they were exceptionally durable and comfortable to wear. And so cowboys started wearing them all the time!

The rivets made it easy for the cowboys to ride their horses without fear of their pants ripping (which did occur often before this innovation), and the jeans themselves did not shrink or get damaged easily. Due to these reasons and more, cowboys across the country started wearing them all the time!

So, yes real cowboys eventually started wearing jeans but before jeans were mass-produced and affordable they just wore pants that were made of either durable woolen fabrics or heavy canvas fabric.


In summary, Jeans are a symbol of what America was and, in many ways, what it still is. They are an icon of the American spirit, ruggedness, and readiness to tackle whatever comes along. Whether you like them or love them, jeans are part of the greater social fabric of our culture. In other words, they belong on a real cowboy’s waist.

You may also be interested in… Is Ariat A Good Brand? and What Jeans Do Cowboys Wear?