[Feature image by Calvin Klein]
Was it Raf Simons’s Calvin Klein show or The Ballad of Buster Scruggs that brought Western wear back into the fashion forefront? Or, was a smidge of rugged bandit always alive in each of us?
We’re not proposing you go full-cowboy, unless you’re aiming for the “Sheriff Woody aesthetic.” But there are plenty of fun, charming, and subtle–most importantly, subtle–ways to incorporate a little Wild West and Southwest into your wardrobe.
Western Wear Basics
Essential items that make up the Americana look.
A defining characteristic of the Western-style shirt is its stylized yoke. Notice the fabric patches over the front shoulders and the V-shaped dip on the back yoke? These details, along with double front pockets and snap buttons, make a Western wear shirt. And they’re often constructed of thicker, malleable fabrics, such as denim or brushed flannel.
Components to notice:
- Stylized yoke
- Double front pockets
- Point collar
- Snap buttons
- Thicker, more durable fabric
If you’re easing into the rugged style, we suggest denim or chambray button-downs. The rougher fabric adds a subtle Americana to your everyday wardrobe. But remember: this lawless look isn’t fit for formal settings, and Western wear is not a replacement for all button-down dress shirts.
Jean jackets were originally designed by Levi Strauss as workwear for cowboys, miners, and railroad workers. And considering ranch hands herded cattle and sheep, it only makes sense they’d use natural resources like leather and fleece for clothing. Naturally, fleece linings on sturdy denim jackets are perfect for insulation.
Sherpa or Borg (faux sheepskin) jackets are fit for fall and winter. And the jacket’s modern rendition is where Western meets street and workwear, with rappers like Yeezy sporting the look.
Cowboy boots should come with a label “wear with caution.” While these pointed-toed, heeled, leather boots can look totally BA, they can also look ridiculous. If you’re going to wear cowboy boots, we suggest pairing them with denim, a simple solid-colored tee, and possibly some jewelry for that country rocker look.
And here’s a hack: brown leather and suede Chelsea boots, paired with light-wash denim, do just fine for a Western-inspired flair. In fact, Chelsea boots, being laceless and having pointed toes, largely resemble cowboy boots from the ankle down.
If you’re unsure you’re ready to commit to cowboy boots, get a pair of versatile Chelsea boots instead.
Take the discovery quiz: What shoes should you wear?
Western Prints and Patterns
Many Western-style shirts have elaborate pipings and embroidered roses. These decorations were derived from Mexican vaquero costumes and were worn at rodeos so that cowboys could be easily identifiable. Similarly, due to the Southwest’s proximity to the Mexican border, many Western-inspired styles have incorporated indigenous Mexican patterns like Aztec print.
Cowboy hats, big belts, and leather vests
We’re not here to stop you from wearing something you like, but certain items constitute as going overboard. Large cowboy hats, big belts, and leather vests are a hard sell unless you’re going for an intentionally kitschy look. Colored fabric patches and some light tasseling might look cool, but we suggest refraining from ostentation. While this article provides sartorial tips on how to ride the Americana trend, it’s not a guide for winning a rodeo pageant.
What Americana styles would you venture into? Let us know in the comments below.
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