What is a wild rag, and why do you need one?


Image of a wild rag

A 'wild rag' is basically a scarf, initially worn by American Cowboys or cattlemen whilst working out on the ranges and exposed to harsh sun, wind and dust. The story goes that back in the 1800s, the first versions were cut up feed and flour bags draped around their necks and faces for warmth and to keep dust from entering their noses whilst mustering and droving cattle. Besides protection from the elements, the many uses for wild rags included straining drinking water, use as a bandage, tourniquet or arm sling or hanky. Even a scared horse or beast would often calm down when blindfolded with a wild rag, and they came in handy as a temporary fix for failing saddle rigging or rope replacement.

Today, wild rags are worn not only by Cowboys and Cowgirls, but they have evolved from just being practical neckwear to becoming a fashion accessory. Being worn as elegant headscarves (think Grace Kelly, or, more recently, Anne Hathaway), tied to handbags or hats as hatbands, or used as colourful ponytail ties or belts, and even as stylish bandanas for our dogs, just to name a few. 

In many regions of the US, wild rags are still a standard part of a Western outfit, whether it be for working cattle or after hours. In Australia, these scarves are not widely known as wild rags yet. However, they have become increasingly popular over the last few years, particularly with Western and pleasure riders training and competing in Reigning, Cutting, Ranch Riding, Cowboy Dressage and Equitation. 

More traditional scarves often feature Western themes and can be worn with scarf slides to hold them in place or simply draped around the neck and tied.   

As most of our followers have probably figured out, we are sticklers for quality and always strive to develop our own unique designs. Whilst we love a traditional paisley pattern, we wanted a modern take on it, and we also wanted scarves with Australian inspired motives.


Photo of a wild rag

Our first collection of TukTuk wild rags featured Australian brumbies, Western Australian Silver Princess Eucalypt blossoms, Southern Australien Desert Peas with their striking colour and shape and our take on modern paisley patterns. These designs are printed on the most beautiful 12 mm silk twill and measure a generous 100 x 100 cm. We are now working on a smaller version swell, more to follow soon..

Image of a yellow wild rag

We have only made limited numbers of some of the prints. They are marked 'Limited Edition' on our website.  Once they are gone, we won't make the exact ones again.

Silk Wildrag Desert Pea Design

Image of a desert pea wild rag
Silk Wildrag Desert Pea Design


Why do we use silk and not the widely used polyester satin for our wild rags?

For most of our garments (waterproof outerwear excluded), we prefer natural fibre products over man-made ones. 

Silk fabric is made from natural fibre produced from the silkworm and has been manufactured for thousands of years; it has built its reputation as a symbol of luxury throughout the ages. 

Satin, on the other hand, is a type of fabric weave. The weave produces a lustrous sheen on one side of the fabric commonly associated with satin. However, "satin" can actually be made using various materials, including polyester, and it is a poor substitute for silk in many ways.  

Some points of comparison:

Softness and Skin Benefits

When you feel a polyester satin fabric, it has a distinctly slippery feel under your fingertips. But while it is slick, it isn't necessarily soft. Pure silk fabric – made from a natural protein – provides both a smooth and silky feel that man-made textiles have not been able to replicate.

Silk reduces friction on our skin and, since pure silk is made from natural silk fibres, the protein filaments make it hypoallergenic and great for sensitive skin. For us here at TukTuk making scarves made from a natural product is the obvious choice since we wear them often next to our skin at the neck and close to our faces.

Temperature Regulation

While neither is a heavy fabric, polyester satin weaves don't adapt to environmental factors like temperature and humidity the way silk does.

Silk is a naturally temperature-regulating fabric that makes it breathable; it's never too hot or too cold in any climate or time of the year.


Polyester satin is synthetic and therefore easier to produce in large quantities. It can be manufactured and easily incorporated into many different products, making this fabric common and inexpensive. 

Silk production is labour intensive and, it is a complex process to manufacture pure silk and have it woven into fabric. It requires careful nurturing of silkworms and handling of the natural fibres. All of this determines the price. Silk will always be more expensive than polyester and a far superior product. 

So, why do you need a silk scarf or wild rag?

We love scarves and, we firmly believe no woman can ever have enough of them. They feel luxurious next to your skin, protect you from the weather, and add colour and personality. Just adding a scarf to an outfit will change often change the whole feel and look.

And we promise you that you'll never find one of our designs elsewhere, all of them are all unique and hand-drawn in our Beechworth Studio.

Our silk scarves and wild rags will always be exclusive to a small club of women who appreciate these scarves for what they are: an elegant and practical accessory that elevates a stylish equestrian outfit.

Sabine Helsper