Texas Ranger Dress Regulations
The distinctive western dress of the Texas Rangers has evolved over two centuries. From 1823 through the 1880s, Rangers wore a wide variety of frontier clothing suited to life on horseback. There were no State clothing allowances, so each man wore what he had and what he knew would work under harsh frontier conditions. Hats served as protection from the sun and rain. Pants were tough enough to ward off brush. Boots, sometimes made of oiled leather, protected the feet from rocks, thorns and water.
By he 'Gilded Age' of the 1890s, Rangers had become full-time professional lawmen. They adopted a more businesslike dress, with unmistakable western accents and accessories, suited to their role as peace keepers. Captains and more than a few Rangers wore suits, or coats, vests, and ties. They were usually clean shaven, had recent haircuts, and looked sharp.
This refined dress sometimes caused problems. Despite the wonders of trains, telegraphs and gas light, Rangers still worked on the frontier. In 1896 famed Capt. McDonald was hurriedly sent after bank robbers hiding out near Wichita Falls, Texas. He arrived by train, and learning that the robbers had fled, he borrowed a horse to trail the bandits. Capt. McDonald was a skilled horseman, but the 'nag' he rode had a jackhammer gait.
His pursuit of the robbers occurred in the black of night and covered 16 miles over rough ground. His horse became exhausted it stumbled, dumping the well-dressed McDonald into a bog. Spitting mad, caked with muck, and forced to wade through freezing water Capt. McDonald caught up with the bank robbers in a swampy thicket. Long out of patience with robbers and his horse, McDonald shouted "Throw up your hands, or I will bore a hole in you that will let the moon shine in!"
From 1900 through the 1930s, ranking Texas Rangers, like Capt. Frank Hamer (below right), began to wear business suits,especially around towns. In the field their dress was more utilitarian. Interestingly, the influence of 1930s-40s movie cowboys such as Tom Mix and Tex Allen began to be seen in the wardrobes of some Texas Rangers (below left).
From the 1950s into the 1970s many Texas Rangers favored practical tan or khaki clothing, western hats, boots and distinctive longhorn tie bars. Legendary Colonel Homer Garrison, Director of Texas DPS (above), was proud of "his" Rangers and had his portrait painted dressed in what was then one type of daily wear.
In the 1970s there was a short-lived attempt to place Rangers in poorly fitting polyester gabardine suits. Most Rangers despised them and quickly went back to conservative western hats, suits and clothing.
Current Texas Ranger Dress Regulations