Pearl-snap shirts have traditionally served a utilitarian purpose. The snaps allow a rancher to easily refasten the shirt if it gets snagged on barbed wire—no need to sew on a new four-hole button. The yoke, an extra layer of fabric over the shoulders and partly down the back, provides durability. And a touch of flair is woven into the chain-stitched designs, from yellow roses to Longhorn skulls, across the chest. But why should cowboys have all the fun?
Three Texas brands are modernizing the pearl-snap shirt into a style to be worn meeting with friends at the bar on Friday night, toasting newlyweds on Saturday evening, or casting out a line on Sunday morning. According to Houston-based personal stylist Stevie Bingham, the modern take on the pearl-snap shirt is a welcome option for men, especially those looking to accompany dates to trend-forward locales (Round Top, we’re looking at you), where they’ll almost certainly be posing for Instagram photos. “I like the fact that [the pearl-snap] has gone a little more mainstream and gives a punch-up to a look,” she said. “It’s more polished, sophisticated, and less costumey.” These new takes on the classic Western shirt are as wide-ranging as the Texans who wear them, but they have one thing in common: they were built for both style and comfort.
1. Rambler Twill, Snaps Clothing Co.
When Patrick Lynn’s grandfather woke up at 4 a.m. each day on his ranch in East Texas, he’d put on a pearl-snap shirt. The collection was eventually passed down to Lynn, who “became obsessed with these shirts.” But it was tough to find more of them.
That’s when Lynn and his business partner, Ed Baronne, came up with the idea to start an apparel line. Snaps Clothing’s Rambler Twill shirt ($109) is more fitted than a traditional pearl-snap shirt. It doesn’t have a pattern or a front yoke, either. But the marbled pearl snaps keep the Western feel of the shirt alive.
“We’re not exactly trying to create an urban cowboy,” Lynn said of the company’s clientele. “But it’s someone who is at a WeWork and leaving for happy hour. You have something on that that has utility and flair.”
2. Pearl-Snap Polo, Rowel Western Wear
Panch Romero also took inspiration from his late grandfather’s closet when he started Rowel Western in 2021. The patriarch in El Paso had one shirt that fit Romero—a retro-style polo shirt with unique stitching on the sleeves and a yoke across the shoulders and back. Romero replicated the shirt, but with an athletic fit. His pearl-snap polo ($65) is made with moisture-wicking material and punctuated with pearl snaps on double breast pockets.
“Our goal is to take traditional Western design and utilize performance fabrics that make the shirts more comfortable,” Romero said. “It’s a win-win. My wife likes the look of it, and I like the feel of it.”
Romero has also teamed up with comedian Steve Treviño to create a new take on guayaberas, formal Mexican or Cuban shirts with four pockets and elaborate stitching down the front where suspenders might otherwise lie. Rowel’s guayabera ($79) is a Tex-Mex version, with a yoke, snap flap pockets, and pearl snaps down the middle. With short sleeves, it could even be worn poolside.
3. Western, Poncho
Poncho has reworked both the pearl-snap shirt and the fishing shirt into one utilitarian design. Fort Worth native Clay Spencer wasn’t happy with the baggy, boxy fit of traditional fishing shirts, so he designed one that’s more breathable and has a slimmer fit. “No cargo-short pockets on your chest. No velcro,” Poncho’s website reads. The company has several types of fishing shirts, but the Western style ($79.95) is what caught our eye. From a distance, these shirts look like pearl-snaps—they have yokes, breast pockets with flaps, and even those shiny snap buttons—but they’re made for being on the water. They dry in minutes, and each has a hidden zippered pocket and a slit for hanging sunglasses on the front of the shirt.