Western movies did more than just entertain us. Society became fascinated with the lifestyle of the cowboy. County and western music emerged, and so did cowboy style. Western clothing has changed a lot over the years. The style of true cowboys of the American frontier wasn’t actually all that stylish. Function was more important than style to the old west cowboy. Clothing was rugged, protective, and plain. It was designed to provide protection from the elements and the stock they cared for, and it was priced to fit a cowboy budget. The western wear of fashion is designed to mimic the basic appearance of old west cowboy gear, with a stylish flair that sets the style apart from the rest.
Gene Autry and John Wayne brought the cowboy way to the big screen, but they also influenced the entire sub culture of western style. What started out as rhinestones and fancy boots has evolved into bright colors, tight jeans, and exotic boots to satisfy even the most unique taste. While much of the fashion world is moving toward standardized, generic clothing and a look of conformity, western wear is moving towards individuality and creativity. Western wear has a few key elements needed to complete the look, but the beyond that the options are endless. Cowboy hats are a staple of western style. For summer looks, straw hats offer comfort and a cool style. Felt fur hats provide more warmth, and looks that scream cowboy. Western shirts are typically long sleeved and button up, but beyond that, styles can vary as much as personalities. Pearl snaps or pastel colors, plaid or vivid patterns, western shirts offer a variety of choices to complete the look. Jeans are another important key to the western look. While many jean manufacturers cater to the western industry, names like Wrangler stand out as nearly synonymous to cowboy style. Jeans tend to be tight fitting and boot cut at the ankle, in a variety of colors and fabrics.
Accessories such as boots, belts, and buckles make the western style complete. In most other fashion industries, the belt is what is important, but in western wear, the buckle takes the stage. Large brass or silver buckles are large and elaborately carved to make it more statement than accessory. Boots are probably the most important part of western attire. With thousands of styles, materials, and colors to choose from, boots show the rugged style of western wear. Styles such as lace ups and ropers are the primary style of boot, but they can be found in materials from leather to sharkskin, and in just about any color you can imagine. A diverse collection of boots and hats can make a western outfit look unique every day.
From the rich history of the old west, western wear is not only about style, it’s about tradition. Western wear shows that we value and admire the tough guys of our past. The hardworking cowboys may not have worn the styles we see today, but as fashion progresses; you can bet the basics of cowboy tradition will stay true to their inspiration.