Denim and country music belong together like June Carter Cash and Johnny Cash.
The democratic fabric represents the down-home, blue-collar stories that country music has shared for decades and has become a mainstay on stage. But like all duos experience over time, the connection between jeans wear and the country music industry has evolved.
Country music icons like Dolly Parton and Willie Nelson have expertly woven denim into their own stage personas. For Parton, it’s form-fitting and embellished jeans and skirts, while denim vests and basic jeans with a statement belt buckle capture Nelson’s laidback country vibe. Along with black shirts and leather jackets, jeans were a foundational piece in Cash’s wardrobe that always toed the line between country and rock.
With the ’90s a big decade for denim, country music stars dabbled in several trends. Classic country musicians like Kenny Rogers, Randy Travis and George Strait habitually paired jeans with a button-down shirt, blazer, cowboy hat and boots. Dwight Yoakam, however, stepped away from the relaxed-fit Wrangler jeans that were a mainstay on the stage, favoring tight, light-wash jeans instead.
Meanwhile, the decade’s leading ladies Faith Hill, Shania Twain and Reba McEntire helped usher in the boot-cut jean trend. The go-to wash: dusty with a yellow tint. Miranda Lambert and Leann Rimes continued to evolve the trend, choosing boot-cut styles with chunky contrast stitching and safety-pin embellishments.
And as the country category crosses into the pop and rock genres, the next generation of musicians is putting its own spin on denim. Carrie Underwood, Taylor Swift and Kasey Musgraves have ditched the low-rise boot-cut jeans wore by their predecessors in favor of more designer denim and matching sets.