From Ranch To Runway: How To Dress Cowgirl Western
Does "anything but country" define your taste (musical or otherwise)?
If so, perhaps it’s time to take a closer look at the new vanguard of Western style.
Almost as polarizing as twangy vocals and steel guitar, urban Western wear was once reserved for flashy oil barons and neon-lit honky tonks. Today’s fashion-forward designers are shaking up the industry and crossing over to a broader audience. Luxe fabrics, skilled craftsmanship and youthful designs are breathing new life into the scene and winning over a generation of women ready to embrace their inner cowgirl.
From ski lodge worthy outerwear to updated favorites, we’ve rounded up some of the season’s hot trends to put a little Wild West in your look.
We caught up with Jena Knowles, a rancher, model and rodeo wife for some expert advice on dressing the part. While cheering on her husband on the pro rodeo circuit, Jena steps out in head-turning outfits, though, when she’s working cattle on their rural Oregon ranch, her attire is strictly utilitarian.
“I feel like two completely different people,” she laughs, “on the town, the second Jena comes out.”
Canvas work wear, soiled jeans and a colorful, yet practical wild rag (a satin neck scarf, for those of unfamiliar with the vernacular) are as far as ranch appropriate fashion extends.
Photo credit: The Frosted Cowgirls
“On the daily, you can’t get away with wearing three concho belts and two squash blossoms [at once],” Jena says, and instead opts to save the bling for a big night out.
Without livestock to care for, however, urban cowgirls should feel free to pile it on. As Nudie Cohn, costumer to stars like Roy Rodgers and Elvis Presley once said, "It's better to be looked over than to be overlooked!"
Maximalism reigns on the Western front, but for timid beginners, we recommend mixing and matching a statement piece or two with items already in your closet. If you’re hesitant to look like a walking trading post, pair your favorite jeans with a bold boot or throw a long blanket print sweater over a body-con dress.
As you build out your Western wardrobe, stock up on versatile staples — a denim shirt, a well-cut leather jacket, a classic pair of boots. Jena recommends investing in evergreen pieces that can be paired with new trends each year.
“My high school graduation gift to myself was a pair of Luccheses, and I’m still rocking them.”
- Jena Knowles
Lucchese has been making top-of-the-line boots since 1883 and boasts fans ranging from John Wayne to Tony Blair. While the iconic cowboy boot will never go out of style, brands like Durango are upping the ante with their hybrid sneakers. Natural leather, fringe and detailed stitching meet comfort and functionality in their Music City collection, a popular alternative to boots and mules.
Another label defining the new generation is Double D Ranchwear. Praised by “Western and English Today” as “edgy” and “unapologetic,” the Texas haute couture house strikes the perfect balance between contemporary and classic.
This season, old standbys are getting the star treatment in luxurious fabrics, and we’re in love with layering pieces like ponchos, vests and dusters.
The reversible Yosemite vest by Tasha Polizzi combines two of our favorite trends, faux fur and Native American inspired prints. Having started her career at Ralph Lauren, it’s no surprise Polizzi’s effortless second home style is a favorite of bloggers and social media mavens.
Whether you’re holing up in a mountain cabin or taking the subway to the old nine to five, you can incorporate a bit of Western Americana into your wardrobe this winter.
Even if you’re not ready to reassess your stance on country music, you can still throw on Grandma’s squash blossom (or Grandpa’s bolo tie), embrace your inner cowgirl and enjoy the ride.