What cowboys have taught us about fashion

You can wear your shirt a little loose, your leather boots under or over your jeans. You can rock a sweet-ass checked shirt and denim combo on a night out – and you know why? Because if cowboys have taught us anything, it’s how to play it cool, keep it easy, and stay warm, comfortable and (importantly) attractive.

You don’t even need to strive to achieve the skinny jeans and checked or high-collared denim shirt look anymore – Mother Fashion has turned the cowboy into an every day fantasy. That old cotton shirt that smells kinda rusty? Desirable for many, many women. Your battered leather cowboy boots, haggard like Mick Jagger? People would pay over the odds for them. Fashion has gone through many changes, but the cowboy style is timeless. It’ll continue to resurface – time and time again.

Even if no one this side of the Mid-West really wears cowboy hats on a daily basis, they still hold a certain amount of romantic prowess. Cowboys are double-edged: they’ve got that syrupy Southern charm, all yes ma’ams and no ma’ams, or that runaway, off-the-beaten track look that almost demands riding out to sunset on a stallion. The cowboy hat is cool charm in suede leather form, even if it’s also worn on hen nights, pink and trimmed with sparkles, making it immediately less sexy and more definitively repellent.


But the cowboy hat has survived this occasional misuse. It’s become a sought-after festival accessory, making it a sought-after summer accessory – just like the underused bolo tie. Indeed, the bolo tie has much to offer – it’s not just a tie for Texan sheriffs, but a loose necklace for both sexes. It’s a fancy brooch, a bold statement, and it can be worn all year round as a simple, modest fashion accessory.

Traditionally, it’s worn right up to your collar, but you can wear it swinging loose on a vest top, or draped around a bikini (they don’t have to be heavy, and you can always go with the lightly coloured summer ones too – plenty of these on eBay). They echo the Teddy boys and girls from the 50s, who popularised the bolo tie outside of the US. They lace your outfit with an exoticness that exceeds European trends – and they’re perfectly in line with vintage delights you might find hiding in the backstreets near Brick Lane.

They also embrace a sense of rebellion. They’re not a standard tie – at one point in the US they were even banned from certain universities and work places, deemed to be symbols of ‘youthful rebellion’ – probably the very reason why Teddies adopted them.


So what about the bottom half? Denim, Levis, frayed shorts. You probably don’t associate your denim jeans with animal herders from across the pond – but back in the day, cowboy attire needed to be practical. Denim or close-fitting trousers meant cowboys could work without getting any loose material snagged on equipment. The modern-day equivalent? Skinny jeans. Practical and they make your legs look sharp. Thanks, cowboys.

Obviously, chaps don’t look sexy on you. That’s fine, because cowboy boots do. Why do I know this? Because you’re emanating the very thing that summarises Western badassery. Think of slinking through a hot desert, your spurs clinking in the heat against your leather boots. The goldmine behind cowboy boots is that they’re totally unisex, they’re adaptable, easy to pull on, and they look good with almost any outfit – shorts, skirt, summer dress, jeans. The high top boots were designed to protect a cowboy’s legs on a ride, the pointed toes a perfect guide to keep their foot in the stirrup, heels to keep the foot from sliding back out again – but for us? An instant outfit vamp. Plus, they’re just fucking cool.


And let’s not forget the tassels and the big buckle belts, the guitar and the horse. Sure, these things might not exactly make up an outfit, but they are stylish, nonetheless. There’s a cowboy lurking within each of us: it’s you, but cool, easy, charming. It just depends when you want to show him off.