Barn dancing has a long history, dating back to the 1860s. It is thought to have originated in England and Scotland, during an era when peasants would gather in barns to imitate the dancing of wealthy landowners. In those times, barn dances tended to be held to celebrate the raising of a new barn, a holiday, birthday, wedding or another extravagant celebration. They were considered important social events because the whole town would be invited to attend.
Nowadays, barn dances are just as popular and provide an excuse to sing along to your favourite country songs, hang out with friends and dance to traditional folk music. However, if you’ve never been to one before, it can be quite difficult to know what to wear to a barn dance. Planning the perfect country-inspired outfit to dance the night away can be stressful. Don’t worry, we have you covered with our guide to what to wear to a barn dance.
The Classic Barn Dance Outfit
The classic barn dance outfit usually tends to consist of plaid. Plaid is a chequered or tartan pattern twill cloth material that epitomises the classic country barn dance. If you’re trying to recreate the traditional barn dance style, then a men’s or women’s plaid shirt should be your go-to. You can opt for a classic country colour combination, such as an olive green or brown shade, to stick to the usual style. Alternatively, if you want to add a contemporary twist to your traditional barn dance outfit, then why not select a bright red check or a navy blue pattern.
Equally symbolic of the classic barn dance is a pair of denim jeans or shorts. If the weather is warm, then it is a good idea to opt for a pair of denim shorts so that you can dance without overheating. For women, high-waisted, roughly cut denim shorts are the standard for that traditional rugged barn dance look, but don’t be afraid to stray from that norm. For a more comfortable option, you could opt for a slightly longer pair of denim shorts, or to add a touch of colour, why not choose a pair of chino style twill shorts in a pink or khaki shade? For men, the best option is a pair of comfortable and lightweight chino shorts. The soft cotton material of chino shorts make them much easier to move around in and will keep you much cooler than a stiff, heavy denim pair. Make sure you match the colour of your shorts with the checked design in your plaid shirt.
Alternatively, for colder weather, swap out the shorts for a pair of dark wash denim jeans. Ladies can opt for a pair of classic skinny denim jeans with country animal embroidery for a real barn dance feel. Or, for a more colourful, eye-catching style, why not choose a pale pink or khaki green pair. Men can opt for a pair of classic straight leg dark wash denim jeans for a simple but effective barn dance outfit.
Finish off your classic barn dance attire with a pair of traditional leather boots. To create a really authentic barn dance look, women should go for some genuine leather knee-high boots. You could select some suede knee length boots or a more traditional smooth leather pair. For men, a pair of classic leather market boots would make the perfect addition to a traditional barn dance outfit.
The Modern Barn Dance Outfit
If you’re looking for something a little more stylish and on-trend, then you might want to create a slightly more contemporary barn dance look. Ladies might want to opt for something a little more fun and flirty, selecting a flowy dress or a flattering skirt. A tweed skirt is ideal for sticking with the country barn dance theme but ensuring you look stylish and sophisticated too. Pair your skirt with a lightweight and flowy animal print blouse to pull the look together. For colder weather, you could even add a matching tweed blazer to make your barn dance outfit slightly more formal. Finish off with a pair of leather Chelsea boots or even some deck shoes for a more summery look.
Men could make their modern barn dance look slightly smarter by swapping the denim for a pair of high-quality moleskin trousers. The cotton moleskin material is ideal for keeping with the country style, but provides a more formal option to the classic jean choice. Add a shooting-inspired knitted jumper, or a tweed waistcoat and blazer for the ultimate formal barn dance attire. Top off your contemporary barn dance outfit with a pair of men’s Chelsea boots or some leather brogue shoes.
Accessorising Your Barn Dance Outfit
No barn dance outfit is complete without some classic country accessories. A traditional hat is a must-have to create an authentic look. A men’s or women’s traditional leather cowboy hat would be perfect to add a traditional touch. Alternatively, you could go for a ladies wool felt hat with feather or a men’s baker boy style cap.
You could even add a country leather belt to pull together your barn dance attire. Opt for a classic brown leather belt to match your boots and hat, or choose a polo-inspired belt for a pop of colour. Men could also add a country shooting tie to add a touch of sophistication, while women can complete their outfit with an equestrian-inspired saddle bag.
So, now you know what to wear to a barn dance, you can effortlessly create a stylish traditional or modern outfit fit for any country occasion.