I was born and raised in a small town in Arizona, where men wore wranglers to the office and women snuck cowboy boots under their wedding dresses. (To further hammer this point home, our biggest town events were summer rodeos.)
Despite growing up surrounded by Western wear in all its forms and fashions, I’ve never been particularly drawn to it. In fact, I’ve always been something of a city girl at heart.
But here I am, living in New York City, and Western wear has arrived. It’s everywhere. Cowboy boots, Western-style button-downs and fringe-covered jackets have pervaded my favorite retailers. Designers are taking cues from my hometown (and everywhere like it), and street-style stars are following suit.
It seems like everyone these days is putting their own spin on the iconic look, begging the question: Why haven’t I?
To be honest, the only Western piece I’ve ever really dreamt of wearing was a pair of turquoise cowboy boots my mom bought in the mid-’90s. She got rid of them at the turn of the century, not realizing her maximalist daughter might eventually want them. But she did hold onto a number of other small-town Arizona relics—namely, vintage Western belts.
I pulled those out, along with a pair of cowboy boots and a vintage bolo tie I thrifted a little while ago. And then I set to work at rendering my city girl wardrobe a little more country. Could I channel my hometown’s aesthetic without looking like I was headed to a rodeo? Could I make my cowboy boots look chic?
Scroll down for a visual exploration of these questions, styling tips and shoppable links to everything I wore on my quest to find out.
Look 1: Rodeo Days
This Divine Heritage mini dress offers a sophisticated spin on the traditional Western button-down. I paired the statement-making piece with even bolder accessories: a vintage bolo tie (thrifted in Arizona for a mere $1!), feather earrings and a snakeskin pattern tote.
I topped off the look with a pair of green suede booties—a modified take on the classic cowboy boot.
Divine Heritage Western mini dress, $425 at Intermix; Kristin Cavallari boots, $169 at Lulus; Medusa tote, $90 at Urban Expressions; Layne Madeline earrings, $225 at Mignonne Gavigan; sunglasses, writer’s own; vintage bolo tie, writer’s own
Look 2: Retro Western Perfection
You know that scene in Can’t Buy Me Love, where Cindy Mancini wears that iconic white fringe matching set? (OK, even if you haven’t seen the movie, you can surely imagine something similar.) Well, when I put this outfit on, I felt like I stepped straight into that film—actually, that world.
The colorful fringe top made me feel simultaneously retro and Western. I added some rock ‘n’ roll flair with a mini leather skirt. And I further grounded the look with a handful of edgy accessories—namely, a vintage belt (with horses on the buckle!), some heavy black boots and a bandana, which I tied around my vintage bag.
Paradised top, $225 at Revolve; vegan leather mini skirt, $54 at Lulus; belt, writer’s own; Frye Shane tip short boot, $348 at Shopbop; purse, writer’s own; bandana bandeau (used as purse scarf), $70 at Revolve; pink fishnet socks, $2 at ASOS; stacked necklaces, writer’s own; sunglasses, writer’s own
Look 3: Feminine Fun
Forget over-the-knee boots—style a slip dress with a pair of tall cowboy boots instead. I layered a puffed-sleeve button-up under the dress and added a heart bag, statement floral earrings and a wide brim hat.
Satin asymmetrical slip dress, $54 at Lulus; Baylee button-up top, $33 at Dress Up; Aster hat, $270 at Freya; Margretta caramel and champagne boots, $2,750 at Miron Crosby; Marilyn purse, $68 at Valfré; Emilia earrings, $295 at Mignonne Gavigan; Lariat necklace, $45 at Mad Jewels; SugarFix by BaubleBar Y-chain necklace, $20 at Target; sunglasses, editor’s own
For a long time, I wrote off Western wear—eschewing my small-town roots with the hope that I’d seem more like a bona fide New Yorker. But this week reminded me that at my core, I’m still a little bit of a cowgirl—and honestly, I’m OK with that.
Sure, my take on Western wear is a little more maximalist than literal. (Actual cowgirls definitely don’t wear rainbow fringe—or fishnet socks.) But I like the idea of combining the culture of my youth with the styles that surround me in the city. Plus, trends are more fun when you find ways to make them your own.
I’ll definitely be leaning harder into the Western trend in the coming months, and I’ll also be turning to Prescott, Arizona, for more fashion inspiration than I have in the past. You never know what’ll spark your next stunning look—it might just be one of the myriad pieces you swore off in your youth.