Howdy folks! Country music and fashion have always gone hand-in-hand like a horse and carriage. From cowboy boots to rhinestone studded suits, country stars have made their mark on style over the years. Join me on a ride through history as we explore how country music has influenced fashion trends, from the early days of the Grand Ole Opry to the red carpets of today. We’ll mosey on through the decades and see how country threads have evolved. Don’t be surprised if you get inspired to add some western flair to your own wardrobe after reading this!
Saddle Up: The Early Days
Let’s kick things off with a look back at the roots of country music and how the early stars influenced fashion in their heyday. Back in the 1920s when artists like The Carter Family started gaining popularity, rural clothing was all the rage. Plain dress shirts, modest floor-length dresses, and practical footwear were typical onstage attire. Still, the early country stars added their own sense of style with little embellishments here and there. For example, Mother Maybelle Carter of The Carter Family stood out with her trademark fringe scarves and embroidered dresses.
The 1930s brought the rise of Western swing and artists like Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys. Suddenly cowboy culture was in the spotlight, and country stars embraced a rugged Western aesthetic both on and off stage. Fancy cowboy boots, embroidered Western shirts and cowboy hats entered the scene in a major way. Singers seeking an authentically cowboy look favored brands like Stetson and Lucchese which remain icons of Western wear today.
In the 1940s, flashy Nudie suits entered the picture, thanks to tailor Nudie Cohn. He customized elaborate suits decked out in rhinestones and intricate stitching for country stars like Hank Williams and Gram Parsons. Nudie’s flashy suits became iconic in country music style, pioneering the bedazzled look still popular today.
Mosey Down to Cowboy Town: Classic Country Style
When country music rocketed into mainstream popularity in the 1950s and 60s, cowboy and cowgirl style came along for the ride. The classic country look as we know it today formed during these decades. Icons like Johnny Cash popularized simple, dark suits paired with cowboy boots. Ladies like Loretta Lynn embraced a cowgirl chic look with leather fringe jackets and cow-print dresses. Let’s spotlight some standout cowpoke styles that have stood the test of time.
All Boots Are Made For Walkin’
No country outfit is complete without a good pair of cowboy boots. Iconic brands like Justin Boots and Tony Lama have shod country stars for generations. Cowboy boots come in all colors and materials like leather, snakeskin, or ostrich. They can be decorated with intricate stitching or left simple and sleek. Stars like Reba McEntire are still rockin’ boots today, proving their timeless appeal. Whether you prefer practical riding boots or flashy neon pairs, cowboy boots are a country fashion staple.
Hats Off to the Stetson
A good cowboy hat is essential headgear for any aspiring buckaroo or cowgirl. Stetson has been the leading brand since the late 1800s, crafting high quality felt and straw hats. Country stars from Charley Pride to Tim McGraw have donned Stetsons, flaunting classic Western style. Cowboy hats come in a variety of shapes including the cattleman, the gambler, and the elegant pendleton style. They can be dressed up with ribbon bands and turkey feathers or kept minimalist. There’s no denying the cowboy hat adds an instant dose of country flair.
Fringe is Fabulous
No other trim captures the country western aesthetic quite like fringe. From jackets to handbags, fringe brings movement and texture to any garment. Country singers in the 60s and 70s like Barbara Mandrell and Dolly Parton popularized the fringe jacket, accentuating their performances with swinging fringe trains. Later stars like Shania Twain revived the fringe fad in the 90s and early 2000s. While elaborate fringe jackets dip in and out of mainstream fashion, fringe accents on vests, ponchos, and more remain a country staple. Just add some fringe to your look and let it sway!
Honky Tonkin’ Style Hits the Mainstream
Back in the 1950s, honky tonk bars catering to country music fans were all the rage. The honky tonk look blended Western wear with flashier accents. Think bold prints, sparkly suiting, and embellished boots instead of plain leather. Rhinestone studded vests, loud button-downs, and cowboy hats with flair defined the look. Stars like Elvis Presley, Willie Nelson, and Dolly Parton embraced honky tonk style in its heyday.
While loud country club clothing dipped out of the mainstream for a while, the appeal of honky tonk style surged back in the 1990s. Pop stars like Billy Ray Cyrus channeled Elvis with wide collars and flashy suits to break into country music. Garth Brooks took the stage in huge belt buckles, wacky prints, and of course – boots. Country music fashion was fun and audacious during this era. The blend of country and pop aesthetics made both high fashion and mainstream retailers embrace flashier western wear. This merging queues the transition toward today’s country fashion scene.
All That Glitters: Country Music Glamour
For a spell, country fashion got washed out like a pair of faded denim jeans. But it wasn’t long before the bedazzled looks of the 90s came back with a dose of Hollywood glamour. Pop country stars in the early 2000s like Faith Hill and Carrie Underwood embraced rhinestones, glitter, and sleek red carpet style. With country music’s popularity soaring, awards shows like the CMAs and ACMs started rivaling events like the Grammys for glitz and glam. Suddenly, sparkly, form-fitting gowns and sophisticated suits replaced the casual honky tonk look on country stars.
Today’s country divas like Kacey Musgraves and Miranda Lambert fuse old Hollywood elegance with flashes of Nashville style. Designers like Sherri Hill create show-stopping gowns embellished with metallic studs, lace, and rhinestones. Others like Texan Michael Costello bring the fringe, ruffles and metallics of honky tonk style into modern silhouettes. While still embracing some western flare, contemporary country stars opt for refined, glamorous looks on today’s red carpets.
Modern Country Style: Vintage With a Twist
Now let’s mosey on over to the present and see how today’s stars are blending country influences into their style. While they still bring out the bling for award shows, many artists opt for more casual looks in their day-to-day wardrobes. Contemporary country fashion is a mix of vintage vibes with modern silhouettes and styling.
Stars like Kacey Musgraves and Maren Morris often rock a boho chic look, pairing cowboy boots with floaty dresses or distressed denim. Or they’ll mix Western wear with edgy accents, like wearing a fringe jacket over a slinky top and leather pants. Going for an earthy, Coachella-inspired vibe, Musgraves is often spotted in floral prints, woven bags and cowboy hats from brands like Goorin Bros.
Meanwhile, Midland’s Mark Wystrach, Cameron Duddy, and Jess Carson embrace a 1970s outlaw look. Onstage, you’ll find them in faded bootcut denim, embroidered Western-style button downs, and the occasional Nudie style suit. Their style channels 70s artists like Willie Nelson and Emmylou Harris with a modern twist.
No matter if they opt for boho chic, vintage flair, or sleek glam, today’s stars all incorporate pieces of that signature country style. The cowboy boots, hats, and fringe remain, but blended into contemporary looks. Country fashion continues to evolve while still giving nods to tradition.
Country Style Off the Stage
Beyond the stars themselves, country music fashion has trickled down to influence everyday style too. Sure, you’ll see the cowboy boots and hats at concerts and rodeos. But country-inspired trends like plaid shirts, cowhide prints, and studded denim have made their way into mainstream fast fashion and style. You can now find budget-friendly cowboy boots for under $50 at retailers from Target to Forever21. Major brands like Levi’s integrate Western details like leather fringe into some of their denim jackets. Country aesthetics blend seamlessly into boho, Americana, and festival fashion.
Today, country-inspired style is just as appropriate out at a honky tonk bar as it is strolling around a city. More people than ever are integrating little country touches like bandanas, cow-print tops, or booties into their everyday wardrobes. The country music style spectrum is wide – from rugged ranch hand to polished Hollywood glam. Brands big and small embrace pieces of the aesthetic. Check out your favorite retailers and you’re sure to find country music’s influence.
Ride Off Into the Fashion Sunset
As we mosey on down the trail to the end of this fashion journey, one thing is clear. Country music has made an indelible impact on style over the past century. From honky tonk flair to Hollywood glam, country stars have pioneered some of the most iconic American fashions. The cowboy hats, boots, fringe, and embellishments maintain their timeless appeal. Country threads have infiltrated both high fashion and mainstream style.
So next time you shop for a new outfit, consider channeling your inner Dolly or Willie. Accessorize with a cowboy hat, pull on some boots, or opt for prints inspired by the great outdoors. No matter your personal style, you can discover new ways to incorporate country chic. Let country music be your sartorial inspiration on your next trip down the fashion trail!