More than 50 years ago John Wayne was making movies that defined the attitude, conduct, and style of tough men. Attitude and conduct will be tackled by other articles, but in terms of recreating the Duke’s style one only has to look to his most popular western roles which have elements that persist to the modern day. Shirt, pants, and boots are standard wear through the ages, but a Stetson, wild rag, vest, and gloves made the character. The hat’s obvious benefits include shade from the sun and protection from inclement weather, while the wild rag was draped around the neck to remove sweat or act as a mask when confronted with heavy dust or rank smells. A leather vest protected the man’s core from the abrasions suffered in a fall, prevented his shirt from flapping about while on horseback, and notably could be used to carry or conceal weapons. Gloves protected the hands from all manner of injuries that could be incurred while working on the ranch and on the range.
Though materials have changed many of John Wayne’s apparel and accessories in his western films are still in use by tough men today and continue to serve similar functions.
Illustration of this comes from the movie Zero Dark Thirty which depicts the style of the Navy SEALS who in 2011 killed the most wanted terrorist on the face of the Earth. A ball cap replaces the Stetson, a shemagh the wild rag, and a MOLLE vest the leather model from Wayne’s film, but allare still worn in tandem along with gloves and sunglasses, the latter of which wouldn’t have been readily available to Wayne’s characters. Many of these updated items perform better than Wayne’s gear with the shemagh large enough to cover the entire head and the MOLLE vest near unrestricted in the types of equipment it can carry and offering substantially more protection with the inclusion of soft and hard ballistic armor.
Take a look at your kit and revisit those old movies. Maybe you’re more like the Duke than you ever thought. Hell, maybe you’re better, or at least better equipped, than he ever fathomed.