Most of Ruscha’s Great Plains-esque looks you can trace back to the ’70s. Posing in a suede jacket, blue jeans, and brown boots in London in 1970, he looked more like a ranch hand than a painter and printmaker; a portrait taken in New York that same year showed him in a bedazzled western shirt, cowboy belt, and his beloved blue jeans. By the 1980s, he shifted into a more casual, less overtly cowboy wardrobe of billowy button-up shirts, unconventional polos, and even a rugged henley. Around this time, it was more likely that he’d wear a pair of sneakers than leather boots. (But make no mistake: the man still loved his good ‘ole American denim.)
In the 1990s and the aughts, Ruscha began wearing short-sleeve button-ups and khakis and more comfortable sneakers, like these rugged laceless mocs and New Balance 991s. (Please also note his love of zip-off cargo pants.) But at events around this time, Ruscha started appearing in dressier threads, with a bolo tie hanging from his neck. Sometimes, he wore it with a formal suit, like this one with piping details and a crisp white shirt. On other occasions, he bolo-ed with more casual fare, or lost the tie entirely (while still looking pretty snazzy).
Perhaps the bolo is Ruscha’s nod to his youth spent in the Great Plains, or maybe he just likes the look. Either way, there is a lesson to be learned from Ruscha’s fits: Dress sharply and simply—and add just enough of a personal touch to stand out from the pack.