Gaze upon the oldest jean jacket still in existence
Don't tell Joe Cartwright, but his jean jacket doesn't exactly fit.
Attentive Western fans who double as history nerds know: There's a wild bunch of anachronisms in the popular TV genre. The tumbleweed that rolls across the screen? That didn't exist in the country until after 1870. The guns some cowboy's wear on their hips? Some post-date certain shows by decades. It's proof that ignorance can be bliss, because if you know enough, the tiny details in many Western scenes could make you begin to twitch.
One of the biggest details that raises eyebrows when seen in Westerns is the presence of denim, any denim.
We know that jeans were invented in 1873, so shows like Bonanza that were set between 1861 and 1867 ought to know better than to give us denim cowboys, yet in the photo above, we see Little Joe Cartwright looking fit and trim in a jean jacket in a second season episode, "Day of Reckoning."
This is historically inaccurate, too, we're afraid, since according to Michael Harris, author of Jeans of the Old West: A History, the original jean jacket was marketed as a blouse and debuted in 1874. You can check out a photo of that Levi's triple-pleat blouse as it exists today below, or read more about its history.
Of course, costumers on TV Westerns were going more for visual impact than historical accuracy, and whether it suits the time period or not, we find it easy to forgive Little Joe for being a little fashion-forward. That's the power of the jean jacket's enduring cool, right? It can even apply retroactively.