Cowgirl style: going West for spring

Fashion trends move in cycles: yes, it’s true, what goes around comes around. Between 2007 and 2010 boho came, bringing cowboy boots with it; swept into wardrobes everywhere and then petered back out. And then, last season, Isabel Marant’s floral embroidery and Western inspired boots foreshadowed that the look was quietly promising to reappear. An inkling amongst the spring 2014 fashion trends, cowgirl style has evolved into something new; and will continue to evolve.

After the break, a look at the trend and how you can wear it now.

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cowgirl fashion western style

Click the thumbnails for full pictures:
Wild west: S/S '14
Wild west: S/S '14
Wild west: S/S '14
Wild west: S/S '14
Wild west: S/S '14
Wild west: S/S '14
Wild west: S/S '14
Wild west: S/S '14
Wild west: S/S '14
Wild west: S/S '14
Wild west: S/S '14
Wild west: S/S '14
Wild west: S/S '14
Wild west: S/S '14
Wild west: S/S '14
Wild west: S/S '14
Wild west: S/S '14
Wild west: S/S '14
Wild west: S/S '14
Wild west: S/S '14
Wild west: S/S '14
Wild west: S/S '14
Wild west: S/S '14
Wild west: S/S '14
Wild west: S/S '14
Wild west: S/S '14
Wild west: S/S '14
Wild west: S/S '14
Wild west: S/S '14
Wild west: S/S '14
Wild west: S/S '14
Wild west: S/S '14
Wild west: S/S '14
Wild west: S/S '14
Wild west: S/S '14

Cowgirl style: spring 2014.

Always an inkling of inspiration rather than all-out costume, the spring 2014 cowgirl mingled western elements with other styles. If we’re to break it down, it looked rather like this:

Pinup: cowgirl meets showgirl.

Rodarte’s models didn’t just step onto the runway wearing a shimmy of fringing and snakeskin boots, they walked onto it with their hands casually clutching low-slung thick leather belts. This was no merry accident but a clear directive: their attitude was tied up in their accessories. Cowgirls at heart, Rodarte’s spring 2014 girls were bold and ballsy. In this modern interpretation, though, they merged American Western with pin-up with ’90s grunge.

Miu Miu’s beaded fringing was another that gave off a cowgirl-showgirl vibe.

cowgirl showgirl fashion trend
Cowgirl showgirl mix at Rodarte and Miu Miu, S/S ’14.

So how to wear this unusual mashup of masculinity and sex-appeal? You won’t, most likely. This interpretation is the signalling of the start of something, more so than a mainstream interpretation you’ll see directly mimicked on the streets. That’s not to say you shouldn’t indulge, just that this isn’t going to be the easiest look to find in stores or to pull off – barring special occasions. If you do want to give it a shot:

  • Try toning down the look back by wearing a fringed crop top with a mid-length skirt or a pair of tailored pants.
  • Go for high waists if you want to keep the look vintage-inspired. To avoid looking too retro cheesecake, toughen the outfit up with some clashing prints, leather and masculine cuts.
  • For the most failsafe interpretation, go for a monochrome outfit – e.g, all black.

cowgirl pinup outfit
Cowgirl pinup in all black: at Rodarte, S/S ’14.

Western embroidery.

Here’s an element spotted on the runways that’s a little easier to work into an everyday look. Western style embroidery splashed its way across jeans (brilliantly executed as sheer panels with beading at Louis Vuitton) and shirts.

  • The most obvious application is the embroidered yoke on a western-style shirt. Rather than go for something too casual or country, look to Alexis Mabille’s example for inspiration (pictured below): it’s neat, feminine and sophisticated.
  • Pair Western embroidery in floral or abstract motifs with delicate prairie lace for a softer look.

cowboy western embroidery
Western embroidery at Alexis Mabille and Louis Vuitton, S/S ’14.

Western meets minimalism.

Fashion has been deeply involved in a love affair with minimalism for seasons now. Clean cuts, pristine whites, simple shapes and sparseness of detail have defined the movement; but that doesn’t mean a minimalist piece can’t be accessorised in a million different ways. Adding a Western accent or two is one of them. Where once boho was the foundation of any western look, minimalism now offers up an alternative.

Wayne’s spring 2014 collection was tailored and minimal – bar for the addition of modern looking lariats. Donna Karan’s white shirt dress and leather accessories provided another perfect example.

  • To work the minimalist cowgirl look, stick to one or two Western inspired accessories worn with a simple yet chic outfit: hat, belt, boots or lariat are all ideal options (though preferably not all at once).
  • Away from accessories, another option is to layer a Western embroidered shirt or fringed suede jacket on top of an otherwise super-sharp and sophisticated outfit.

western meets minimalism
Western accents: at Donna Karan and Wayne, S/S ’14.

Cowgirl accessories.

Whether you choose to go minimalist or not, the spring 2014 runways would have you know that cowgirl accessories are on the cards. Contrasting to the traditional flat cowboy boots that were the staple of every girl’s boho wardrobe in 2008 or thereabouts, Alexis Mabille’s heeled version is more fashion-orientated (much like Isable Marant’s from last fall/winter). Belts should be oversized and casually low-slung, and fringing is the go-to detail.

western inspired accessories cowboy boots
Western inspired belts and boots at Rodarte, Alexis Mabille and Donna Karan, S/S ’14.

Cowgirl style: where to from here?

So if the Western influences are still seeping into fashion, where will they go from here? Beyond spring 2014, look out for another turn towards tall boots, blanket capes and Gaucho hats as the cooler weather sets in – all sensualised by dark colours, strategically bared skin, and sharply tailored cuts.

Gaucho fashion fall 2014
At Tibi, Kenneth Cole and Cushnie et Ochs, F/W ’14.

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Some people's wardrobes are about a small selection of pieces that all fit within one aesthetic - Tania Braukamper isn't such a person. With a wardrobe that spans three different rooms, her approach to fashion is a mixture of current-season key pieces mixed with vintage finds she's sourced on innumerous shopping trips around the world's more cultured capitals. Despite a disparate approach to shopping, Tania is adamant that the key to mixing vintage with new season is to stick to key looks and colours that work for oneself. And it's a theory that she works into her writing for Fashionising.com, where she serves as the publication's Editor.