If you check a cowboyâ€™s drawers, youâ€™re likely to find a pile of silk scarves and bandanas in at least one of them. Cowboys keep their neck warm with silk scarves and use bandanas as hankies or rags.
My cowboy gets both types of these simple fabric squares as gifts a lot because they are a popular and safe bet to give cowboys for any gift-giving occasion. Unlike some dads who cringe over getting another tie, cowboy dads use this type of neckwear (also called wild rags, silk rags, or neckerchiefs) regularly as well as hankies (bandanas). My husband keeps them in his top dresser drawer but occasionally they get raided.
Our son used to wear a red silk scarf as a superhero cape but now he wears them around his neck and packs a hankie for his nose like his dad. Our daughter chooses to use them in more creative ways. She favors silk scarves because of the silky material and their 30 inch square size. Theyâ€™re more versatile for playing with compared to bandanas which are only 18 inches square, but sheâ€™s found just as many uses for them too.
Hankies and silk rags also come in colorful varieties and pretty patterns she likes. Back when she took naps, her favorite was a bright blue silk rag she used as a blanket. Iâ€™ve seen many a silk rag become part of her clothing. Sheâ€™s spent hours playing dress-up with her dadâ€™s silk rags and bandanas; recruiting me to tailor these outfits. Tying and pinning them around her chest created strapless tops and dresses. My personal favorite is what she used to call a â€œdragginâ€™ dressâ€ in which I helped tuck a scarf into her underwear around her waist for a skirt that â€œdraggedâ€ behind her. Combining cotton and silk material with mixed colors and different patterns together isnâ€™t as important as being styled the way she imagines (and sheâ€™s an unsatisfied customer if itâ€™s not).
Dadâ€™s old bandanas make useful blankets for tucking in stuffed animals and dolls, swaddling babies with, and make as a pretend bandage or cast. Bandanas and scarves can be conveniently made into a purse, hobo bag or snack sack due to their holding capacity. She takes them filled with things for entertainment on car rides, to church or sporting events. They hang easily on handlebars when bike riding and pack supplies needed for a hike or carry supplies in to the tree fort.
Theyâ€™re square size makes them easy to fold and pack around but best of all, Dad has lots of them. If one turns up lost or more are needed to play with, she just pulls another one out of her dadâ€™s drawer. Heâ€™s a good sport and takes all the new, stiff bandanas to break in until they become soft and worn enough for a girlâ€™s liking and doesnâ€™t mind using the silk rags with rips or holes in them.
Sometimes heâ€™s not a good sport if his drawerâ€™s empty. I remind him that eventually sheâ€™ll outgrow them and miss the days when she used to dress her drawers with his scarves and bandanas.
This column was originally published January 27-February 2, 2008