How to Wear a Western Shirt Without Looking Like a Cowboy

There is something irresistible about a western shirt. Maybe it’s the delicate sheen of the mother-of-pearl snaps and the trendy vintage-style fabric. Maybe it goes deeper to some sort of primordial ideology, where real men wrangled horses and carried six-shooters. Perhaps it’s as simple as wearing a shirt with snaps is really fun to put on and take off.

But those with a closet full of western-style button downs often hit a snag when it comes to styling. Is it possible to wear a western shirt without looking like John Wayne? Presenting three tips to keep you looking modern and not like a passenger on the Oregon Trail.

3 Tips to Wearing Western in a Modern World

1. Be conscious of accessories. A western shirt should never be worn with any of the following: a bolo tie, a cowboy hat, cowboy boots, a neckerchief, book cut jeans, or spurs. A good rule of thumb is to rock only one Old-West influence at a time – this will keep you looking hip and not costume-y. Instead, match your western shirt with straight-leg or slim-fit jeans, a pair of sneakers and a comfy hoody for a vintage/trendy feel, not Halloween.

2. Keep your tails out. You may have grown up learning that un-tucked tails were sloppy and rude, but this is one instance your mother’s rules do not apply. Tucking in a western shirt is the quickest way to transform your modern vibe to that of a fresh-faced ranch hand. To resist the temptation to tuck, keep your western shirt in the casual-event only drawer.

3. Don’t match your denims. It’s the oldest rule in the book of western-wear: for the love of all things fashionable, don’t match your blues. You will look foolish. This is not to say that denim on denim is unacceptable – quite the contrary in fact. But wear jeans with a darker wash than that of your denim shirt to avoid the “Canadian tuxedo” look.

Western shirts are a men’s fashion staple – and for good reason. They are flattering on everyone, comfortable, and can go from afternoon BBQ with the guys to night out dancing with the ladies without a hitch. Just remember: wear your western wisely.