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To Cowboy or Not to Cowboy

Fashion is deeply cyclical, and every few seasons, the Western trend pops up.

In the spring of 2024, a Western renaissance is upon us thanks to various designer labels, pop stars, and the trending zeitgeist.

Of course, the key to any trend is incorporating it into your personal aesthetic rather than taking the whole thing on head-to-toe. Here’s a rundown of some Western styles and pieces for those looking to giddy up on this trend.

The cowboy boot is having a major moment and is an essential element of Western wear. If trousers with sneakers were your go-to combination for winter, then it may be time to make a stylish swap with cowboy boots for spring. From knee-high to ankle, western-style boots can be surprisingly versatile and easily pair with most of your spring pieces. You can get a sleek black pair like Jeffrey Campbell’s Dagger Western boot and wear them over jeans with a button-down. Or lean into the pageantry side of Western style with the Boot Barn’s Corral White Glitter Inlay boots and wear them for a night out with a little black dress.

Nothing captures the Western spirit quite like a fringe jacket. Personally, I tend to stay clear of fringe, but there’s no denying the appeal, especially with pieces like Wrangler’s Suede Fringe Jacket in Black. This cropped version can be the perfect topper for a t-shirt, jeans, and boots look. If you’re in the mood for something a bit more spring-like, then check out County Outfitters Saints & Hearts Women’s Faux-Suede Cropped Fringe Jacket in cream. A lighter shade speaks to the season and pairs with a more romantic look of a floral dress and ankle boots. A fringe jacket, especially if you go with a boxier, 70’s style version, is definitely a statement piece, so keep the rest of your outfit straightforward so as not to compete with the impact of the fringe.

Unlike fringe, one aspect of Western wear I’m completely on board with is no-frills denim with a straightish-leg and in a dark wash. Sure, you can get embellished, studded, wide-leg flared jeans and look right at home in the rodeo stands, but I prefer a more functional take on denim. Rock and Roll Denim’s Mid Rise Extra Stretch Bootcut Riding Jeans go the distance for a Western look, especially when worn with an Aztec printed pullover. For a more budget-friendly version, check out Denizen for Levi’s Women’s Mid-Rise Bootcut jeans over at Target. While I personally prefer a straight leg, a bit of flare and a full length are key when considering cowboy-esque jeans. Cropped, wider-leg denim doesn’t have the same feel as a long and leaner silhouette.

And what goes great with a dark flared jean? A Western-inspired shirt, of course! Often, the denim shirt comes to mind when talking about classic cowboy shirting. Something with traditional front pockets and curved, yoke placement like Gap’s Cropped Denim Shirt in dark indigo, and I’m a fan of rocking denim on denim for a cowboy-themed fit. But there is something special about a change in fabrication that leans harder into the Western aesthetic, like Ariat’s Elsa shirt with its intricate embroidery and contrast piping. Or a themed novelty print like Shepler’s Wrangler Retro Women’s Scenic Print shirt featuring horses and cacti with pearly snap closures is the perfect top for a boot-scootin’ night on the town.

Next up, Western accessories. If you’re not so much into the idea of a full-on rancher-inspired look of jeans, shirt, jacket, and boots, you can still weave in some of the Western trend with thoughtful accessorizing. In fact, it may be through accessories that you can best experience this style. Again, for most of us, a head-to-toe cowboy look is hard to pull off. Instead, try a big-buckled belt that can pair with rough-up jeans just as easily as wide-leg trousers. You can go with something chunky like Free People’s Duke Conco belt with its embossed details, oversized metal buckle, and pointed tip. Or a more neutral yet still detailed version, like Roswell Debossed Belt at Nordstrom. I like the idea of a belt with statement hardware to Westernize and cinch a more minimalist outfit of neutrals.

Some additional accessories for a Western look include bandanas, which you probably already have. You can tie a red paisley bandana or kerchief style around your neck with a casual look this spring. Topaz jewelry is another easy way of exploring cowboy style without going overboard. A third and somewhat unexpected option is the bolo tie. This can easily be slipped underneath the collar of a shirt to give the stuffy necktie a run for its money and acts as a witty wink to the trend.

Lastly, cowboy hats. If you want to make a statement and go all-in on a Western wardrobe this season, you’ll need a cowboy hat. While true cowpokes go for felt versions, straw, and raffia are on the rise for the warmer months ahead. Check out Country Outfitter’s Shyanne Women’s Caz straw hat. With its double-row mixed rustic wooden cord hat band and flexible curved brim, you’ll be stylish and able to keep the sun out of your eyes.

Even though Western wear is trending, it’s not a fad by any means, but actually a timeless and classic way of dressing that’s seeing a resurgence. Keeping classic in mind is the best way to incorporate the cowboy aesthetic instead of going full head-to-toe ten-gallon hat, fringed shirt, denim, and boots. You can pepper your wardrobe with cowboy-inspired garb to embrace the country mood and still feel very of the moment.