A duster is a light, loose-fitting long coat. The original dusters were full-length, light-colored canvas or linen coats worn by horsemen to protect their clothing from trail dust. These dusters were typically slit up the back to hip level for ease of wear on horseback. Dusters intended for riding may have features such as a buttonable rear slit and leg straps to hold the flaps in place. For better protection against rain, dusters were made from oilcloth and later from waxed cotton.

Duster used by one of the Younger Brothers in the Northfield bank raid, 1876.
Duster used by one of the Younger Brothers in the Northfield bank raid, 1876.

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, both men and women wore dusters to protect their clothes when riding in open motorcars on the dirt roads of the day.[1]


Old West reenactor wearing a duster
Old West reenactor wearing a duster

Western horsemen's dusters figured little in Western films until Sergio Leone re-introduced them in his movies The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (1966) and Once Upon a Time in the West (1968). The latter played for many months in Paris and was in part credited with a revival of the duster in men's fashions in that city. Similarly, in the film genre of heroic bloodshed, primarily through Chow Yun Fat and John Woo, the hero is often seen wearing a duster.[citation needed] That is also true of the fictional anti-hero Omar Little, who wears dusters both as outerwear and as a silk sleepwear coverup[2] in the HBO series, The Wire.[3][4]

Dusters gained renewed popularity in the late 20th century and are now a standard item of Western wear. The Tenth Doctor played by David Tennant wore a cinnamon brown duster coat on Doctor Who. Van Pelt, the main antagonist of Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle wore a dark brown duster coat. Harry Dresden from Jim Butcher's Dresden Files wears a duster, as well as other cowboy-like attire. In the television comedy series "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia", a black leather duster is featured in several episodes that is prized by several main characters, who often argue over who looks better wearing it.

In modern times, leather dusters are worn by motorcyclists to prevent road rash.

See also


  1. ^ Picken, Mary Brooks (1957). The Fashion Dictionary (1973 ed.). Funk and Wagnalls. ISBN 0-308-10052-2.
  2. ^ "Omar Little is the gay stick-up man who robs drug dealers for a living in The Wire". The Guardian. July 19, 2008.
  3. ^ "The Wire Cast and Crew: Omar Little, PLAYED BY MICHAEL K. WILLIAMS". HBO.
  4. ^ Honig, Peter (July 31, 2012). "Omar in the Dell". The Wire Blog.