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We all know that the cowboy concept isn’t new in K-pop, but it’s interesting to see how this style has evolved and been interpreted in many ways: from the stereotypical Wild West regalia to sleeker, more contemporary looks. Most of them are worn by groups for performance purposes only, which gives them more room for creative expression or over-the-top styling. And even though this style has been redone over the years, Western-style clothing is still going strong, with signature pieces that are trendy to this day. Here’s how this stylishly fun concept looks like in a fantasy world versus modern takes:
Head-to-toe cowboy gear
Fantasy: Who can forget the adorable members of B1A4 during their “Baby Goodnight” era? In this cheeky music video, the boys looked like they had the time of their lives in full cowboy wear: from leather vests, hats, chunky belts, scarves, you name it! And is that a faux holster belt on CNU? It’s certainly a fun (and funny) video that was actually perfect for the easy dance choreography that’s reminiscent of a line dance.
Modern: For their “Resonance Pt. 1” album concept, NCT went for a dark take on the cowboy trend with more subtle details. Of course, the obvious cowboy fashion items are still present, but they were styled in a much more coordinated way and in one cohesive color palette.
Fantasy: Cowboy boots are not just mere accessories; they’re the ultimate symbol of the Wild West style which were crafted and perfected by artisans for years. Although they look good on stage and in front of the cameras, they can be hard to pull off in real life without looking just a tad costume-y. Yuna and Solar rocked these timeless boots!
Modern: But that doesn’t mean this cowboy staple can’t be incorporated in today’s streetwear. HyunA is definitely a fan of the trend, as she styles her different pairs in dresses, jeans, or shorts. Lisa can be seen taking her casual outfit to a different level with classic brown leather boots.
Jacket with tassels
Fantasy: Tassels are great for dance numbers because the garment moves with the choreography, and it gives a normal jacket some spunk. Jimin, Arin, Wheein and Yuqi wore this statement piece in their cowboy-themed shoots and performances.
Modern: This cool piece can be dressed down in casual wear just like Sorn, who wore it over a summer dress, and Rosé, who was seen rocking it in her airport fashion.
Scarf prints and patterns
Fantasy: Feminine florals, traditional patterns, and clashing scarf prints give a romantic touch to this concept. This can be seen with Dreamcatcher and MAMAMOO’s mismatched outfits with florals and fun pattern play.
Modern: While the style of the groups mentioned above can also be modern, TWICE gave the scarf print and floral trend a brighter take with different cuts and silhouettes that are perfect for a fun summer look. (G)I-DLE wore the trend in a more edgy style for their “HANN” promotions. Meanwhile, Apink stylishly and seamlessly wore this trend with cowboy elements without looking cliché. They combined feminine and cool pieces perfectly to create a cohesive look!
Corsets were worn back in the past and were considered stifling, if not debilitating, but today, women have taken power over them to express their own style and individuality. Modern takes of this age-old piece can be seen in Jisoo, Jennie, and super sisters Jessica and Krystal.
Modern denim on denim
A quick Google search on why real cowboys prefer to wear denim material since time immemorial shows the reason is that they’re durable, protect the wearer from harsh natural elements, and keeps them from falling off the horse. In the K-pop world, it’s purely fashion, and BTS showed a modern interpretation of denim on denim in their “Permission to Dance” video. They looked amazing as a group while still showing each member’s personalities with each look.
Fantasy: Of course, a cowboy outfit will not be complete without the signature hat. Irene and Ryujin both wore swoon-worthy hats embellished with crystals and jewels. They both looked like heroines in a novel or leads in a movie!
Modern: TXT’s Yeonjun and NCT’s Johnny wore a different take on the cowboy hat with more hardware details. Both of their looks were the most memorable from their cowboy concepts!
Bonus: Cowboy parody
Super Junior did a more comedic take on the cowboy trend, with a funny skit on the members acting in roles such as the sheriff, bandit, detective, bounty hunter, bullfighter, among others. Nothing less can be expected from this legendary group as they always come up with something entertaining and mind-blowing for their fans!
Cool cowboy: Taemin perfected the cowboy walk in his white and black suit!
Hey Soompiers! Which of these Wild West styles is your fave? Let us know in the comments below!
DianneP_Kim is an English magazine and online editor based in South Korea. She is the author of a K-pop style book published by Skyhorse Publications, New York, and has recently released her second book about BTS. Check it out on Amazon, follow her on Instagram @dianne_panda, and subscribe to her YouTube channel at iwonderkorea.
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