More Importance Than Which Shirt Is Worn

Fancy shirts don’t make the cowboy.

Evidently that’s not the opinion of some in the livestock way-of-life. Admittedly, we have gone through stages in upper body wear, but stories we’ve heard from certain stockmen recently contrast any of our variations. Thankfully, one thing hasn’t changed: cowboys must wear long-sleeved shirts.

There is an occasional cowboy who will let down to a short-sleeved shirt for a hot summer Sunday afternoon cool-off. We even broke the rule at one time. For some reason, we wore t-shirts in the hay field and when riding on hot days. Then we woke up. Sun is harmful tothe skin. We’ve worn long-sleeved shirts for the past 20 years.

What brought the subject up was when two livestock sale officials started comparing their shirts. These stockmen were way over our head. They were wearing button shirts with button cuffs and button-down collars. It seems, if we can remember, they were made of nylon, rayon, acrylic, fleece or some other material.

The brand was Van Heusen or Ralph Lauren or Ike Behar or somebody. We’d never heard of it. Stinger was the price. Now we’ve seen $25 shirts, and we foolishly bought a $20 shirt one time. But these “cowboys” were talking $75 to $100, for a shirt? We’ll just wear each of ours another five years or more, and most likely feel just as well dressed.

Today, for us a shirt must be western yoke style, long-sleeved, snaps up the front, three or four snaps on each sleeve cuff, two snap pockets and a button at the collar. We have had snaps at the collar and prefer those, but they’re hard to find. Our Wrangler or low-cost-brand shirts are mostly light-pin-striped, three plaids and a couple of red ones.

An even dozen is all we need: five for the office, four older ones for riding and choring, and three for church, judging and uppity stuff. A couple of heavily-worn favorites are also in the closet, but they’re never used. We’ve heard of men with three or four dozen
shirts. Either they change quite a lot, or wash day doesn’t come very often.

As a teenager, we had five white, short-sleeved, button shirts, each with one open pocket and button-down collars. Mom starched and ironed them to perfection. We were out of our league, but that volume was necessary when we went to Boys Statefor a week and to several five-day FFA events over a three-year period. We prefer cowboy shirts.

Our neighbor’s philosophy has to be the best: “It’s the man that’s the cowboy, not the outfit he wears.” Certainly, whatever kind of shirt, it’s clarified in Second Corinthians 5:3: “If so be that being clothed, we shall not be found naked.”

However, the most important “shirt” is figuratively emphasized in Isaiah 61:10: “I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness.”