Country boy, I still love you, and I’m not the only one. The western fashion trend is going strong in 2021. Prairie dresses, cowboy boots, and lots of fringe have all been embraced by both runways and style icons like Gigi Hadid and Cardi B alike. Of course, the 2021 take on the look involves some serious updates like neons, metallics, and lots more bling than you’d expect to see in the Wild West of old.
Western fashion, of course, calls back to the 1850s with the California Gold Rush. The period was defined by cowboys, ranchers, and outlaws who opted out of formal wear for more durable, breathable workwear pieces. But, it wasn’t until the 1950s that western aesthetics became a ~trend~, due to the influx of Western movies. In Elvis’ era, rockabilly fashion with denim layers over each other, bolo ties, and suede or leather fringe jackets reigned supreme. Since then, more singular elements of the look have made their way back into magazines. The ’90s were obsessed with cowboy boots, 2010s brought back denim-on-denim, and, for 2021, the space cowboy is back and better than ever.
My, and I assume many others’, first major reintroduction to Western fashion started with "Old Town Road" in 2019. Lil Nas X brought a whole new meaning to what a cowboy can look like with his vibrant, fringed, and sequined ‘fits from the video, but the turning point was definitely the rapper’s leather, studded pink look for the 2020 Grammys.
While I’m all for a pair of denim chaps over a pair of daisy dukes or a leather harness with a fringe jacket, there are also subtler ways to bring Western fashion into your rotation. Hadid’s tie-dye cowboy boots are a perfect example of a modern take on the retro style. Versatile items like an embroidered button-down or a cow print skirt can easily work in Western notes. If you want to update your look (and, IDK, maybe pan for some gold), below are a few key pieces to try the 2021 western aesthetic
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2021 Western Style: Cowboy Boots
As I mentioned before, cowboy boots have gotten a serious update. Now, the pointed-toe boots are taller and more colorful than ever before, with pastel, metallic, or patterned ones colorways that fit all of your needs. I’m especially partial to Roper’s Riley boots ($67, Zappos), which have a very traditional cut but come in a cute bubblegum pink.
2021 Western Style: Fringe Shirts
When it comes to a western button-down, you have options. A simple, denim shirt will always get the point across, but a wide-striped, fringe or embroidered shirt (hell, maybe even one with all three) will truly take things to the next level.
2021 Western Style: Cow Print
Moooooove on over (sorry), leopard print. It’s time for the graphic, black-and-white cow print to take the spotlight. As cow print has already been approved by Kylie Jenner, there are few things stopping you from udderly (OK, now I’m done) indulging in the easy-to-match pattern.
2021 Western Style: Chaps
Leather chaps haven’t fully made their way back into style… yet. Sure, they can be a bit hot and cumbersome to wear, but a pair of denim chaps, like Love Lounge Boutique’s Chaps ($83, Love Lounge Boutique), is a more reasonable option, with its larger holes and lighter wash.
2021 Western Style: Cowboy Hats
A cowboy isn’t a cowboy without a Stetson. The iconic hat has been blowing up my For You Page for months, meaning it’s probably time to get one. More modern cowboy hats making the rounds, however, have the classic Stetson shape with a more eccentric edge, like neon colorways, feathering, and bedazzled brims. You can always DIY your own cowboy hat to your exact preferences or grab one that’s already done-up, like StockyardsTrading’s Cowboy Hat ($20, Etsy)
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