For Andie J, dressing like a cowgirl isn’t just a hobby — it’s a way of life.
Andie J is a cowgirl at her core — minus the riding horses part. “I like petting and looking at them, but I’ve never loved riding,” she confesses somewhat sheepishly. Instead, the content creator (@andoej) prefers to pay homage to horses through her clothing: a collection of 70+ Western-inspired pieces that would make Dale Evans herself jealous. “Cowgirl is an attitude, really,” she says, quoting the star of 1940s Western musicals. “The cowgirl faces life head-on, lives by her own lights and makes no excuses.” And neither does Andie.
Born and raised in Calgary, she was always interested in fashion but didn’t realize it was a viable career until a couple of years into her PR degree at Mount Royal University. After a brief stint in Toronto as an intern at Joe Fresh, she returned home and joined TikTok on a whim. A year later, she started a video series about what she would wear to the front row of certain fashion shows, and she went viral. She decided to pursue TikTok full-time (while designing websites on the side) and now calls it her “accidental dream career.” “There aren’t a lot of jobs where your number one goal is to connect with people,” she explains. “I just love having that driving force every day.”
Andie says she owes her style to her mother — the duo used to have 12-hour shopping marathons at thrift stores — but jokingly blames her father for her initial resistance to Westernwear. “I used to hate it when my dad would dress up in his cowboy boots, hat and shirt,” she laughs. “It wasn’t until I was in my late teens that I realized it was actually cool.”
Nearly a decade later, she now refers to her closet as “The Country Music Hall of Fame” because she has amassed so many Wild West wares, including 43 pairs of cowboy boots. “I’m urban, city, Hollywood, cowgirl,” Andie says, describing her style. “I’ve always been really into music, so I’ve definitely been influenced by Dolly Parton, Shania Twain, Cher and Harry Styles.”
As you can imagine, minimalism is not in Andie’s vocabulary. Colour, sequins, glitter and fringe abound as shiny lime-green boots mix with ornate leather jackets. Belts are big, and their buckles are even bigger. And cow print is considered a neutral. “It’s kind of like when you put on a matching pantsuit,” Andie reveals. “I get the same energy wearing a cowgirl outfit. I feel confident and strong.”
Part of that confidence for Andie can also be attributed to Westernwear’s massive makeover in recent years. What was once an emblem of lone rangers and toxic masculinity has transformed into a flamboyant fashion that had a starring role in the Barbie movie. “The juxtaposition is very powerful to me,” shares Andie. “Westernwear was developed to be functional. It wasn’t seen as feminine until some really iconic women, like Dolly Parton, stepped in and added glitter to chaps.”
But, ultimately, the connection to her home keeps Andie coming back for more. “Growing up, a lot of people try to leave Calgary, including myself,” she begins. “But in the past four or five years, there’s been a real thrifting surge. It’s a very interesting scene, so wearing my pieces makes me feel proud of where I’m from.” Home on the range, indeed.
This article first appeared in FASHION’s November 2023 issue. Find out more here.