Style etymology: the cowgirl

While the original cowgirls roamed the dusty plains of America’s mid-west, now-a-days the term is shorthand for daisy duke shorts, a certain kind of denim shirt that is springing up all over the high street again this Spring (lasso one now) and well, a particular outdoorsy but sexy casual style.

Cowgirls captured by Evelyn-Cameron

Believe it or not there is a National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame in the US which prove that women did do ranch work, rode horses really well and toiled alongside men- you go girls. In fact, Wyoming gave women the vote back in 1869 and photographer Evelyn Cameron captured women’s contributions on ranches. According to our Googlings, ‘cowgirls’ got their name thanks to the Wild West Shows where they showed off their riding and rope whirling skills and this catapulted women such as Annie Oakley to fame.

Annie Oakley (apparently!)

History lesson almost done- cue the fashion…

By 1900 cowgirls favoured practical skirts with splits to allow them to ride horses without scandalizing (or over exciting) cowboys by borrowing their clothes or flashing their bloomers. The look evolved thanks to rodeo girls in the 1920s and then the skirts morphed into sexier versions in Hollywood with starched white skirts and artfully worn denim.

Pin-up cowgirl

Gail Davis looking chirpy!

We’ve read that modern cowgirls still wear jeans, close-fitting shirts, boots, hats and when needed, chaps and gloves…although doubtfully in the same way as Jessica Simpson and Christina Aguilera.

We’ve rounded up some iconic fashion/cowgirl looks but are still slightly bemused as to how practical and casual clothes favored by hard-working girls turned into such sexualised outfits worn on so many hen nights! Answers on a postcard.

Ralph Lauren montage by LiveLoveCouture

Up close with the SS11 season: fringing always returns for festival time!

Rosie Huntington Whiteley makes a convincing cowgirl


RHW for Qvest magazine Oct 2010

Miu Miu cowgirl this season


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