The Wild Rag: Everything You Need To Know

The Wild Rag: Everything You Need To Know

Cowboy cool style just wouldn’t be what it is without the cowboy staple - a wild rag. Also known as a silk scarf or bandana, the wild rag got its name from old time cowboys, who would choose their favorite, in best condition or fanciest scarf to wear out to the bar or barn dance, hence calling it their “wild” rag.

In this video, rancher and horsemanship clinician Keith Stewart of Cowboy Campus University shares a little bit of history and shows us his two go-to ways to wear his wild rag and how to keep yours in excellent condition for many years. You can shop or visit us in-store to grab your own.


Choosing a wild rag
As with any piece of western wear, choose a wild rag in a colour and style that you like, but know that once the wild rag is tied on you won’t be able to see any artwork, so colour is more important than style or design. Keith prefers a larger wild rag (40” by 40”) and a larger rag better suits the buckaroo knot, we’ll teach you later on. Women and children may prefer a smaller wild rag for themselves. Having a handful of solid coloured wild rags makes pairing them with your outfit easy. Simply pull a colour from the palette of your shirt and use the closest matching rag that you have. For example a white shirt with brown and blue floral print will look great with a solid blue wild rag!

So, you’ve got yourself a wild rag, and now you’re ready to tie it on! Here’s how to wear your wild rag in a square knot, like Keith!

The Square Knot
1. Start by folding your square wild rag into a diagonal to make a triangle shape.
2. Next, bring the wild rag around your neck, with the V of the wild rag laying on your chest and loop the ends around to the front, so the tails are on your left and right.
3. Make sure that the tails are about even in length.
4. Next, to make the knot, place the right tail over left, and the left tail over right. Tighten the knot and you’re all set! Easy enough.

The Windsor Knot
1. Once the wild rag is placed around your neck, with the V of the wild rag laying on your chest, make sure that one end of the tail is substantially longer than the other. For example, the tail in your left hand would be three inches longer than the tail in your right hand.
2. Next, take the longer tail and bring it over the shorter tail then you’ll wrap the longer tail around the shorter tail two times around.
3. Next bring the tail up through the middle of the knot, above the tie.
4. Next, create some space between the two ends, between the fabric and slip the end through that space, just like if you were completing the knot of a tie.

The Buckaroo Knot
This knot is a legendary knot for wild rags but it’s also the most complicated and takes some practice. We’ve broken it down into easy-to-follow steps here.
1. For this knot you want as much length in the tails of your rag as possible, so make the scarf snug around your neck.
2. Create a pistol with your left hand and wrap the tail around those two fingers once, and then hold in place with your thumb.
3. Take the right tail and bring it underneath the left tail but over your fingers and flip it over your wrist.
4. Retrieve the right tail from under your wrist and bring it over to the right side.
5. Now you will have the top tail and the bottom tail, the bottom tail being the right tail you just retied.
6. Take the bottom tail and wrap it over the bottom tail and grab it with the fingers that are making your pistol.
7. Then while holding the bottom tail in your right hand pull the loop that is wrapped around your hand pistol and pull the bottom tail through.
8. The final step is to pull down, not out, to organize and secure the knot.
9. You can wear the buckaroo knot in business tie fashion as well by throwing the V of your wild rag behind you and securing this knot in front, to wear it tie style.

Caring for your wild rag
To care for your wild rag you’ll want to wash it every so often and store it somewhere safe when you aren’t wearing it. To wash your wild rag, put it inside a clean sock and toss in the wash with similar colors. You can also hand wash your wild rag in lukewarm water with a tiny amount of detergent, but Keith suggests just “tossing it in the wash inside a sock, the cowboy way.”

Seasonality of the wild rag
Here in Canada, you might be wearing your wild rag in June on a rainy day, and not need it in January! When you pull out your wild rag wear is totally your call, but we recommend having one handy all winter long. Keith likes to keep one handy in his truck in the winter time for bundling up when the temperature drops unexpectedly. Don’t be afraid to throw your wild rag on for the extra cowboy cool factor, even when the weather isn't in the negatives.

Ready to sport the cowboy tie? Shop online at or visit a store near you to get your hands on a wild rag. Get Keith’s old school cowboy cool look with his picks below:

Austin Accent Subtle Floral Print Wild Rag

Austin Accent Aztec Horse Print Wild Rag

Austin Accent Feather Print Wild Rag