When the yeehaw agenda began taking over the internet, I was fully onboard—until I saw a tweet that gave me serious pause. The tweet, by @solarishilton, laid out the idea that "cowgirls" and "horse girls" were mutually exclusive terms—one was working class, one was upper class—and that only one of them—the cowgirl—was at all cool.
And while we have no problem saying bye to the kind of horse girl who was the snobby girl in middle school taking English riding lessons, there's a whole other kind of horse girl reality—and we will always love those girls who spent afternoons watching The Saddle Club, getting overly invested in the animated movie Spirit, and pulling extra chairs into their friend's computer room because their mom had finally gotten them the latest PC game that let them manage their own stables (the dream!). This horse girl was the brunt of a joke by the popular crowd; she was definitely not wearing jodhpurs, but she was still very much a Horse Girl.
And now, it's that horse girl's time to shine. In popular culture, it's impossible to miss some of the most powerful women embracing yeehaw, and even returning to their horse girl roots for an overall shift in style. Take Kacey Musgraves: Whereas she once saw the "fringed jackets and cowboy hats" of her youth as being "dorky," she now finds herself riding to the top of the charts on horseback—literally.
Cowgirls and boys have been peaking in high fashion: From Pyer Moss tapping the Compton Cowboys and Cowgirls of Color for his "America, Also" campaign, to Raf Simons, prior to his departure from the brand, driving home of Western culture with Calvin Klein, the aesthetics of the Wild Wild West have been in full swing for some time.
The glitzy chaps we see now, on everyone from Cardi B to Solange, with forever-horse girl Stevie Nicks continuing to rock her witchy Western wear, are an extension of the kind of horse girl aesthetic that always veered more toward Western style than English, one that involved pairing bedazzled shirts with a starchy pair of boot cut or flared jeans. Rather than a tailored jacket, this horse girl opted for a fleece or hoodie—perhaps one with a horse-inspired print. It prioritized workable comfort over feminine silhouette but never lost a certain softness.
The coinciding nature of the yeehaw agenda thriving and the revival of brands like Jordache perfectly encapsulate the energy of 2019's horse girl. It's cowgirl streetwear, with the branding of brands clamored about by hypebeasts, but in the same silhouettes that horse girls of any year would find comfort in. The Canadian Tuxedo is a staple, graphic prints are standard, and just the right amount of sparkle can never look wrong. Hiking boots are the latest in cool footwear, perfect for tramping around in muddy fields—or just on mucky subway platforms.
Anyone who grew up in the country will tell you the same thing about being a horse girl: It was never about class, or living out Hollywood's whitewashed fantasy of the cowgirl. While some who have embraced the yeehaw agenda are doing so ironically, the real horse girl knows that its appeal lies in the unabashed fun of being passionate about something. Does that make horse girls cool? Maybe not, but so what? Saddle up anyway. Who cares about being cool when you're having so much fun.
During a time when Western fashion is "in" again