Fargo Fashion | Deciphering Barn Dance Duds

I learned a little something last weekend: When in a barn, dress as the cowboys do. Normally, this isn’t fashion advice I would personally follow, but sometimes you just have to accept that you’re living in North Dakota, break out some cowgirl boots and rhinestones, and get down at a good old-fashioned barn dance.

KEYONA ELKINS | THE SPECTRUM
KEYONA ELKINS | THE SPECTRUM

Every other Friday night, students drive to the tiny town of Arthur about 30 minutes northwest of Fargo to do just that. Arthur’s Barn has been hosting dances since 1953, and the venue is still crowded full of college kids who want in on the long-standing classic country tradition. There is always a live band, a line dance or two and lots of impressive swing dancing. There’s also a slew of denim, plaid and boots.

Jeans are a barn dance staple, whether they’re skinnies, bootcuts, or cutoffs. Many feature country glam embellishments and are accessorized with western rhinestone belts. Guys don T-shirts while girls opt for embroidered and embellished tank tops, and anyone is safe in a plaid button up. Leather cowboy boots are a given, but some dancers get away with classic sneakers or modern chelsea boots. The girls who are a little more “country rock” than “country western” pair their Daisy Dukes with tops that have sparkly details or rustic typography.

KEYONA ELKINS | THE SPECTRUM
KEYONA ELKINS | THE SPECTRUM

I asked a trio of barn dance regulars to share their advice for mastering the country cutie look. Minnesota native Brianne Halbur put herself into that “country rocker” category, saying “If you aren’t feeling plaid, wear something more edgy.”

“Don’t do country ratchet,” said Samantha Forsch. “Stay classically country — jeans, a pair of boots and a nice shirt.”

Bri Farnsworth added that the same easy outfit formula of good shirt, jeans and boots works well for guys too.

After taking notes on the barn dance style scene, I came up with a few simple fashion ideas for anyone checking out the next dance on Sept. 23. Guys can modernize basic bootcuts with a V-neck or henley tee. If you’re really attached to the plaid shirt look, try out a more fitted version in a faded fabric.

Country girls can switch out flashy embellished jeans for stylish ripped ones or swap the beloved plaid button up for a chambray one. Any button up shirt, however, is ten times cuter knotted at your waist and rocked with high-waisted denim. Other options include a flowy, textured lace top or a denim vest. For accessories, try tying on a bandana either as a cutesy headband or a trendy choker.

However you decide to put your spin on the country look, just embrace the electric downhome vibe and kick your boots up.

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