Your Take: Like a Rhinestone Cowboy

Karlie Justus Marlowe | August 8th, 2009

New York Fashion Week doesn’t start up until Sept. 10, but this week on The 9513 saw quite a bit of sartorial snark.

Brady’s post Thursday on a new promotional video for George Strait’s upcoming album Twang elicited some comments on his (gasp!) untucked shirts:

idlewildsouth: I’m noticing in that video of George Strait, there are a lot of pictures of him with his shirt untucked, sleeves rolled up. Seems like a pretty obvious variation on his typical look.

Chris N.: CW has always gotten letters about how much people appreciate George’s fashion sense — including the tucked-in shirts. Could be scandalous.

Dr. No: Could George Strait’s “dishelved” look be a shot at the acts that overemphasize fashion/looks/etc over actual talent? You know, like 95% of the acts out there?

Similarly, Juli’s review of “the sartorially-challenged Rische siblings'” (aka Jypsi) new single “Mr. Officer” elicited nearly as much talk on the band’s fashion choices as its singing chops:

antonio: i wonder if they spent as much time on the record (or the song) as they did on their clothes and hair. and the pose. and the tattoo. plus, that guy looks like a douche.

Rick: … The thrift store / hipster look has been a big hindrance to their career but it obviously means a lot to them. Its hard to take a band seriously when they dress like clowns! Its the music that matters to me and their debut album contained a handful of gems that most country music fans have never heard.

While fashion coverage is usually relegated to pop and rap artists, the country genre has definitely seen its share of trends and fads, from Porter Wagoner’s Nudie suits to John Travolta’s Urban Cowboy look to Taylor Swift’s combination of sundresses and cowboy boots.

Has an artist’s fashion choices turned you on to or off of his or her music? From a broader perspective, what role does an artist’s image (dress, looks, etc.) play on your decision to attend an artist’s concert or buy his or her music?

Also, in last week’s Your Take, we covered your favorite music award show moments, and Reba McEntire’s infamous red dress ranked on the top of many people’s lists. Do you have a favorite country music fashion moment or icon?

  1. Cindy2
    August 8, 2009 at 7:36 am

    Despite the fact that Shooter Jennings can’t sing, somebody really needs to tell him to wash and cut his hair. Generally I don’t care what an artist looks like, but is basic hygiene too much to ask?

  2. Collin
    August 8, 2009 at 7:41 am

    I would be lying if I said I don’t judge people on how they dress, but that doesn’t mean I won’t listen to their music. I had a completely different image of Randy Houser in my head before seeing the video to “Boots On,” and while his hat is stupid, I’ll still listen to his music.

    As for bands like Rascal Flatts, I don’t like their look, but that’s the least of my complaints against them.

  3. Paul W Dennis
    August 8, 2009 at 9:09 am

    I think that slovenly attire shows disrespect for the fans who pay the freight for the artist’s career. No, I don’t think that business suits and ties are necessary (nor Nudie suits), but clean untorn clothing and an occasional shower work wonders for one’s image.

    Mostly I go see the older artists anyway, and they are usually dressed appropriately. In fact I can only remember one of the artists of the 60s who dressed really way down for a performance and he had a reasonable excuse – a broken leg (he performed from his wheelchair)

    That said, I neither purchase music nor attend concerts predicated on an artist’s attire or physical attractiveness – it’s the music that matters

  4. highwayman3
    August 8, 2009 at 10:47 am

    Although I like their music, I hate the way Little Big Town dresses. I just hate Ugg’s on anybody.
    One fashion moment that stands out for me is when Kenny Chesney played the Opry around 03, 04. I dont think he knew you had to dress up because he wore something one would wear if they were painting or pulling weeds from a garden. I thought it was disrectful.

  5. highwayman3
    August 8, 2009 at 10:49 am


  6. Baron Lane
    August 8, 2009 at 10:52 am

    Ha! I really don’t care what you wear as long as the music’s good. I do like Jamey Johnson’s biker/outlaw aesthetic that put him outside the run of the bill hat acts. And please someone get Kenny Chesney a shirt with some sleeves.

    Oh, and it’s hard for me to take your heartfelt song about the common man seriously when you prance around in mink coats, John Rich (

  7. Matt B.
    August 8, 2009 at 12:00 pm

    I saw Jace Everett perform in a dress shirt and suit pants and had a vest and tie. He looked good with that outfit instead of the t-shirt and jeans he wore while signed to Sony Nashville.

    Honestly, if I like the music though, which I did in Jace’s case, the clothing they wear on stage doesn’t really matter.

  8. Pierce
    August 8, 2009 at 12:32 pm

    Sure, I care about the music more than I care about the look, but I feel like the “look” oftentimes relates to the sound of the music.

    To me, music is just one big marketing scheme. I can’t really think of a mainstream country artist that DOESN’T outwardly reflect the kind of music they play.

    The only person I can think of would be Jason Michael Carroll. He’s a pretty small dude, but has a voice as deep as Trace Adkins. Still though, the style of music matches the look.

  9. Sam Sattler
    August 8, 2009 at 2:51 pm

    That trick of leaving the shirt outside the pants is one generally favored by those of us who have grown a bit of a pot belly. Don’t know about ol’ George, but he is of a certain age, isn’t he?

    I’m just sayin’…

  10. idlewildsouth
    August 8, 2009 at 3:54 pm

    I dont know that I base what I listen to on what someone wears, but I may do it more than I realize. I feel like a lot of that is stuff we dont really consciously make a decision about, but I know we’ve all said something to the affect of “I cant get into so and so for some reason. I dont know, theres just something I cant put my finger on.” I think wether or not we judge peoples music is that sort of scenario. We dont realize we’re doing it like that.

    As Pierce said, mainstream music is about so much more than music. From a business standpoint, they want you to look like you sound. Kenny Chesney looks beachy. Toby Keith looks roughneck. Rascall Flatts looks pop, and George Strait looks like the gentleman cowboy his music says he is. Dierks Bentley is really the best example of this. If you look at his attire from his first album, and compare to it the tone, as opposed to his all black outfits he always wore while promoting “Long Trip Alone”, a much more solemn, mature album.

  11. Nicolas
    August 8, 2009 at 6:15 pm

    I absolutely hate Montgomery Gentry, and one of the reasons is the cowboy hat one of them wears that is completely flat… it looks retarded

  12. Addie
    August 8, 2009 at 7:18 pm

    I think Tim McGraw looks magnificent in florals and ruffles. And smashing in a suit.

  13. Stormy
    August 8, 2009 at 9:18 pm

    I mostly use country fashion as a laugh–like Tim McGraw and his “totally a rebel…in a Hot Topic kind of way” hat.

  14. sleepy
    August 8, 2009 at 9:57 pm

    Looking back, John Denver never looked too sharp but I never noticed it, because of his guitar skill and voice, and the lyrics.

    BTW, when is someone going to a do a blog for songs about Guitars?

  15. sleepy
    August 8, 2009 at 10:00 pm

    And he wasn’t a bad storyteller either, one of my favorite things, his telling the story of how he learned the Lord’s Prayer in sign language and shows how it’s done

  16. Rick
    August 9, 2009 at 1:35 am

    The appearance of male performers or what they wear doesn’t affect my judgement of their music under most circumstances, except for Shooter Jennings! Shooter reminds me of homeless men I see around downtown Los Angeles on skid row…

    Now as for female artists, I think if they’ve got good looks they ought to flaunt it to a point while remaining classy. Shania Twain made the most of her sex appeal on stage while never looking sleazy or cheesy. Among new female artists the prettier ones will catch my eye and motivate me to listen to their music, but its only when the music has real merit that I stay interested. Yes I’m shallow in that regard, but at least I admit it! (lol)

  17. Rose
    August 9, 2009 at 3:46 am

    Funny…way back in the day rural musicians would wear their Sunday best to perform in until they were told they needed to look more “country” and start wearing overalls and the like. I guess 80 or so years later, we still haven’t come to a consensus on that issue.

    I think George Strait looks classy no matter what he wears, although I do appreciate his usual clean-cut, no-frills style. As for everybody else…no, I don’t think it really influences whether I’ll listen to them or not. I like Taylor Swift’s style, but I’m not really a fan of her music; conversely, I love Reba’s music, but some of her ’80s outfits cracked me up then and still do now.

    Like Pierce and Idlewildsouth said, I do think style is an important part of the marketing package, though; it definitely helps guide people toward a certain type of artist. Even if I choose to ignore it and focus on the music, I can’t say I don’t make those kinds of “Kenny Chesney = beachy, Jamey Johnson = total badass” kinds of associations, so I’m not going to say style doesn’t matter whatsoever. The music definitely comes first for me, though.

  18. Andrew Lacy
    August 9, 2009 at 12:55 pm

    I think the image can be helpful in getting a foot in the door so people will actually hear an artist’s music to decide whether it’s good or not. Then once an artist is established, there’s more freedom to adjust the image to be more in line with who they actually are.

    Gary Allan is a good example of this. Early on, he was the guy hitting golf balls in an expensive suit and a cowboy hat (one of my favorite music video moments). Now he seldom wears a hat and has replaced the suit with a t-shirt and torn jeans. The music hasn’t changed much, but the image is noticeably different.

  19. TenPoundHammer
    August 9, 2009 at 9:28 pm

    If a star is in good enough physical shape, I wouldn’t bat an eye if they performed naked.

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