How to wear a western shirt

The storied history of the Western shirt makes it easy to see why it remains one of the most iconic styles in the world of clothing. Even after 150+ years, brands like Wythe, Dehen 1920, and Ralph Lauren’s RRL continue to reinvent the shirt in hopes of keeping the garment at the forefront of fashion for generations to come. But for those of us that spend more time writing emails than wrangling horses… how do you go about actually wearing one? Turns out, styling a western shirt doesn’t have to be as tough as mastering a bucking bull. Here are a few of our favorite looks:


How to style a western shirt casually


Ralph Lauren RRL Heritage Western Shirt in Polo Black


Western shirts have aced the test of time thanks to their combination of classic style and fine-tuned detailing. Innovations like pointed shoulder and chest yokes were added to provide better support and durability in the field, while snap closures were added for cowboys and rodeo riders in the event their cuffs were snagged on a fence. Versatility and comfort have always been paramount when it comes to western shirts, so keep it casual by styling your outfit in a similar manner.

Keep the shirt untucked and relatively loose. Wear it over a t-shirt or tank so that you can unbutton the shirt and wear it open, if you choose. If the weather allows, keep a button or two undone at the top, or the sleeves rolled up just below the elbow. Pair the shirt with any classic straight fit pant like a good pair of jeans (plenty of those here), or a slightly tapered slant-pocket trouser.

If you’re unsure about color coordination, remember, you can never go wrong with neutrals. Mix shades of grey and black for a rockstar-approved palette, or stick with the tried-and-true combo or blues and browns.


Ralph Lauren RRL Heritage Western Shirt in Davey Wash


3 ways to dress up a western shirt

If you’re going for a dressier look, be sure to keep the shirt tucked in. Western shirts are traditionally cut with a bit of extra length in the body to help the shirt stay in place with a pair of trousers or jeans (even easier if it’s a pair with a higher rise). It’s one of the easiest tweaks you can make to elevate the outfit, and looks appropriate whether you’re on horseback or in the office break room.

Try dressing up your western shirt with unexpected layers. Pair it with a tailored jacket or a blazer to add a dose of ruggedness to an otherwise formal look, or add a bandana underneath the collar for contrast. We find that denim and chambray style shirts work especially well here, but any strong material in a solid color will do.

Ralph Lauren RRL Buffalo Western Workshirt in Dark Wash


The best western shirts for men

Of course, you can’t go wrong diving head first into the western shirt’s origins with an outfit built around our two favorite materials: denim and leather. Did you know? Western shirts were almost entirely sewn using leather and animal skins up until the early 1900s when tailors received better access to cottons and wools.

It’s okay to double up on the denim – just make sure there’s a bit of contrast between the shade of the shirt and the jeans. We find that RRL’s Dark Wash Western Shirt works especially well here. It’s got the seal of approval from film badasses like Idris Elba (“Concrete Cowboy”, 2020) and Jason Statham (“Heat”, 2015) with its rugged worn-in look and pearl snaps. Saddle up this combo with a good pair of boots, and a thick leather belt that’s as close in color as possible to the footwear.

Idris Elba Concrete Cowboy western shirt
Shop RRL Ralph Lauren denim

With over 150 years of relevancy, the western shirt has established itself as a loyal companion on the fashion frontier. Whether its dressed up or down, a good western shirt belongs in everyone’s wardrobe.

Ride off into the sunset these favorites from RRL by Ralph Lauren, and discover new arrivals every Friday at Blue Owl.