by: Joe Joiner
The King of Americana: How to Get Willie Nelson’s Signature Style
Get your wardrobe on the road again with the all-American cool that Willie Nelson has all but patented: t-shirt, jeans, sneakers, and all topped off with a hip bandanna.
Willie Nelson is a living legend, a monster of music and culture and activism, the embodiment of classic American idealism. But when you think high fashion—no, not that kind of high—he’s not the first person, iconic or otherwise, who comes to mind.
Maybe we should rethink that judgment. Because Willie’s been in the spotlight long enough to know just how to keep it simple, subtle, and classic, but with just enough flare to keep things interesting.
There’s something inherently all-American about his outfit, from the well-worn black T-shirt to the comfy jeans and a pair of sneakers. If he put down Trigger, his trusty, well-worn guitar, and hid the braids, he could pass for just another dude at the barbecue, albeit the one with the very best weed.
Here’s a quick guide to getting that Willie Nelson look for yourself. And now, thanks to Willie’s Reserve, you can get high on his supply, too. Legendary songwriting ability sold separately, of course.
Willie is so famous for his signature headband that he keeps a giant box of them onstage. Once he’s sweated through one in the course of a performance, he’ll toss it to the crowd and grab a dry one. We can’t promise anointing yourself with Willie’s salty exudations will give you magical musical prowess, but rocking his bandana vibe will definitely put you closer to a rock and roll look. Get yours via willienelson.com, where they even have the braids attached.
You could, of course, just opt for cowboy boots, but unless you’re a country musician, in Texas, or about to go rope a steer, it’s best to leave those to the professionals. Instead, get your feet into some New Balance 496’s, which are made right here in the USA, in Lowell, Massachusetts, to be exact, and have been Willie’s favorite for so long the company even makes his special, with custom embroidered accents like guitars or his signature. Turns out Willie isn’t the lazy stoner you may have thought he was: For years he was an avid runner, hosting races, and even had a special version of golf, in which you raced from hole to hole.
Willie Nelson, U.S. country music singer-songwriter, during a concert performance, circa 1975.
David Redfern/Redferns, via Getty
Willie has always had an affinity for the vintage T-shirt, usually black these days, and with a faded band logo or graphic of some kind. If you really want to get the right look, you can go for a Farm Aid shirt, thereby supporting the annual benefit that Willie founded and the proceeds of which go to help small farmers. You could also choose a bit of that “high” fashion, and cop a Willie’s Reserve shirt from the man himself. Or head on over to e-Bay for some actual vintage band t shirts. Since it’s summer, if you want to put on a “gun show,” a plain black tank top will work, too, like this one from the All American Clothing Company.
What kind of pants does a country legend like Willie? Jeans, of course. Heck, Willie even seems to have had his own line of women’s denim in the ’70s, but good luck getting your hands on a pair. How does the Redheaded Stranger take his dungarees? Preferably black or deep navy, and well broken in. No hipster spandex jeggings here. If you really want to go all out, get some extra comfy—but rugged—hemp jeans, like Hemp Blue’s straight fit selvedge blend. But for those looking to keep it classic and country, you can easily find something to your liking at Nashville’s Imogene + Willie, where they custom make some of the finest denim pants money can buy in small batches, right there in country music’s county seat.