The Cowboy
Rides Again

Men's Western wardrobe essentials

The Cowboy Rides Again

How to incorporate some rugged Western style into your wardrobe

Once upon a time, experts declared fashion trends, though perhaps cultural trends at large, would be back en vogue every 20 years. Nowadays, the cycle tends to be shorter. Some, like the resurgence of both country music and the Western aesthetic, never really faded in the first place. They were simply reduced from a raging boil to a mere simmer, destined to be brought back to temperature later on.

And in 2024, the trend is boiling over. Last year saw the ascent of the country-indie and country-pop genres, plus their respective superstars, from Zach Bryan to Morgan Wallen. And though country music has far from taken over globally, the stateside Spotify 2023 year-end rankings placed Wallen first in both the most-streamed song and most-streamed album categories, edging out one-time country star Taylor Swift (she was still the most-streamed artist, to be fair).

Beyoncé has a country album on standby, too, and recently topped the charts with her first-ever country singles, “16 Carriages” and “Texas Hold 'Em,” which apply a country twang to the singer's typical tone. This said, the trend is far from simply sonic, and we're sure to see everyone from Austin Butler to Pharrell wearing Western attire.

In fact, it's already begun, albeit in a bandwagon sort of way. Pharrell's latest Louis Vuitton collection was a “Cowboy-Western Epic,” as GQ put it—a parade of models wearing cowboy hats, cropped jackets, flared pants, heeled boots, oversized belt buckles and bolo ties. It was something of a departure for the French-born fashion house, and the true-blue dressers of America would surely call it cosplay. But that's okay. Quite frankly, it is. As the New York Times' Jon Caramanica points out, country is moving on from its pomp and circumstance, namely its costumes of belonging, to more rural digs, a sign that being country requires “being country IRL,” as he puts it. And while pop music, he points out, feels stuck in place, country music is moving forward—clear evidence that this trend, no matter how hot it is, is still only toeing the precipice, peering up at its potential.


Tecovas x Thomas Rhett Gregory boot

So, how do you dress cowboy-ish in an authentic way when everyone will surely try it over the next year? You stick to the foundational elements and avoid anything that feels like costuming. That ornate, pearl snap shirt? Probably not your best bet, especially if you typically wear sweats and sneakers. But a denim shirt with said snap buttons and yoke stitching? Much easier to incorporate into your regular rotation.

I don't say this to dissuade anyone from buying something they truly love, but I speak from experience; I've bought plenty of things I liked on the hanger—and hated on me. Plus, though I am by no means an expert on ranching, raising or training horses, maintaining a stable, or, hell, even riding a horse, I have studied, and long written about, the various eras of American menswear—the “cowboy” ones included.

For those wading into Western wear, in its simplest form, the country aesthetic is, well, simple. It calls on the classics and steers clear of overt fashion statements—even if cowboy boots and cowboy hats feel quite statement-making in their own rights (and the foundation for many American fashion brands). From faded jeans and dusty boots to loopwheel T-shirts and broken-in belts, when put together correctly, the items that will look right at home on you.

Tecovas x Thomas Rhett Gregory boot

The Foundations of
a Western Wardrobe

Standard and Strange Wakayama loopwheel tee

Wakayama loopwheel tee,
$95 by Standard and Strange

Classic Cotton

You want one that's soft yet hard-wearing. And American-made or at least American-referencing, meaning the pattern was pulled from the archives of American fashion: form-fitting in the body, tight around the bicep, and with a durable collar that can withstand being pulled on and off every day.

Tubular T-shirt, $32.99 / $28.99 by Bronson Mfg Co.

Tubular T-shirt, $32.99 / $28.99 by Bronson Mfg Co.

Wrangler Cowboy cut jean

Cowboy cut jean,
$39.99 by Wrangler

Cowboy Cut

They have a high rise, tapered legs and a slight flare that affords just enough room for the average boot shaft. They're flattering, elongating, and typically fairly rigid, which ensures durability, whether you're working on a ranch or wearing them to your desk job.

Japanese selvedge cowboy jean, $228 by Buck Mason

Japanese selvedge cowboy jean, $228 by Buck Mason

Vintage Coors cap

Vintage Coors cap,
$12.99 on Etsy

A Hat

You never want someone to say you're “all hat and no cattle”—it means you're all talk, no action (a.k.a. full of shit). That means you need to wear a good hat and be a man of your word. My aforementioned rule of avoiding costuming is critical when choosing your hat, though, because if you aren't going full country, you shouldn't wear a cowboy hat. Doing so in stretch denim or performance-fabric chinos will make you run the risk of looking like a bride on a bachelorette trip to Nashville.

Corral 4X felt hat, $169.99 by Stetson

Corral 4X felt hat, $169.99 by Stetson


Tecovas x Thomas Rhett Gregory boot

Gregory boot,
$275 by Tecovas x Thomas Rhett

Serious Boots

There are countless variants, cut from leathers ranging from exotic to standard-fare, and numerous toe and heel types to choose from. Whether you go square toe and double heel, low-heel (a.k.a. Roper) and round toe, you can't go wrong so long as you buy your boots from a reputable source--like Lucchese, a luxury option, or Tecovas, the heralded newcomer.

Embroidered men's boot, $895 by Lucchese

Embroidered men's boot, $895 by Lucchese

Anderson's Suede Western belt

Suede Western belt,
$195 by Anderson's

A Belt

Even if your jeans fit correctly—cowboys don't sag—a belt is a must, especially if you're tucking in your shirt. And there is no faster way to out yourself as a non-cowboy than to show up in cowboy boots and a satin-finish dress belt. Skip the big buckle and go for a more understated ornate loop finish.

Slim three-piece belt, $155 by Maximum Henry

Slim three-piece belt, $155 by Maximum Henry

RRL Washed chambray shirt

Washed chambray shirt,
$265 by RRL

(or Denim) Shirt

For many, a chambray (or denim) is the easiest way to add some Western flair to an otherwise normal wardrobe. With the right pocket shape and button finish, you'll look rodeo-ready, especially if you spread the collar and tuck it in.

Denim snap button shirt, $100 by Schaefer

Denim snap button shirt, $100 by Schaefer

Finishing Touches

A rugged fit still calls for some accessories to finish things off. Try a patterned, horsehair bracelet or maybe a bolo tie. And don’t forget a durable pair of shades.

Chamula Horsehair bracelet

Horsehair bracelet,
$116 by Chamula

RRL Braided leather bolo tie

Braided leather bolo tie,
$295 by RRL

Randolph Skytec polarized sunglasses

Skytec polarized sunglasses,
$319 by Randolph

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