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Miley Stewart Meets Malibu Mom: The Coastal Cowgirl Aesthetic 

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UCSB chapter.

If this summer had a uniform, it would definitely feature cowboy boots, a white maxi skirt, and something crocheted. Though certainly a surefire way to get on Hot Ticket, this formula is also the manifestation of the latest style trend that has infiltrated our feeds and closets: the coastal cowgirl aesthetic.

As with most things that stem from social media, there’s some discourse about what inspired this particular trend. A few sources, such as People Magazine, point to a Ralph Lauren runway show occurring in 2023. Others, cite influencer Paige Lorenze—founder of the brand Dairy Boy — as the OG coastal cowgirl. Regardless, though we may not know exactly where it stems from, we do know that this particular aesthetic seems to be establishing itself as more mainstream and enduring than those that came before it (like the frightening but mercilessly short-lived era of the E-boy). So, let’s break down exactly what this popular new trend is, and how you can achieve it with pieces you may already own. 

At its simplest, the coastal cowgirl aesthetic is a blend of western, beachy, and preppy. To embody it is to wear outfits that are cute, effortless, and breezy. Refreshingly, in complete contrast to the bodycon craze of a few years ago, the coastal cowgirl aesthetic prioritizes comfort and ease.

Aside from being comfortable, the beauty of this aesthetic lies in its accessibility. Unlike some micro-trends which are rooted in expensive and exclusionary pieces, one can easily become a coastal cowgirl by digging through their closet or the racks of a second-hand store.

So, if you are indeed seeking to spend your summer decked out in coastal cowgirl finery, look for pieces that fit within the pastel or neutral color family are made of denim, or linen, or are crocheted or knitted (bonus points for a light wash Canadian tuxedo). Some creators even suggest creating your very own coastal cowgirl capsule wardrobe. In this way, you can mix and match all of your handpicked pieces and create a plethora of different outfits out of them. For example, a pastel-colored linen maxi dress paired with cowboy boots or denim shorts and a crochet top are literally the aesthetic embodied.

And, when in doubt, if it’s something Aquamarine would wear if she got lost in Texas, you’re on the right track.

However, whilst this aesthetic does emphasize a lifestyle of flow and ease — which is a very welcome shift from many current trends — its status as a trend implies its curated and volatile nature. Though the coastal cowgirl’s reliance on neutrals and vintage pieces could indicate a potential permanence in our social scene, there’s a very probable chance that it’s merely the latest consumerist-based trend that the general public will abandon in a few months.

I think using fashion as a method for self-expression is a beautiful thing, but in order to combat the dizzying speed of trend cycles — and the waste they ultimately produce — it’s important to remind ourselves that the pressure to adhere to arbitrary aesthetics is not necessarily productive.

So while I do absolutely plan to rock crochet dresses, denim on denim, and cowboy boots this summer, I do also plan to embody the other parts of this aesthetic that are not material. When I am in my perfect coastal cowgirl fit, I hope it also reminds me to personify the aesthetic’s tenets of effortlessness. Instead of seeing clothes as mere markers of trendiness and status, I will remind myself to be more present and see clothes as an extension of my spirit.

Dani is a fourth year theater major at UCSB. Originally from LA, she enjoys music, buying cowboy boots, and brunch.