Nicole Rasmussen, also known as @western.soul.nicole on Instagram, is a Western fashion influencer with a mission. As our industry continues to expand, Nicole hasn’t shied away from bringing awareness to the need for inclusive sizing, garnering a passionate audience that turns her way for style inspiration. In the spirit of bringing Western style to everyone, Nicole shares her thoughts on where Western fashion is headed and how we can bridge the gap of inclusivity.
COWGIRL: Tell us a little about yourself and your background in the Western way of life.
Born in Chicago and raised in Indiana, I would say I don’t have the standard “Western” background as most of your readers. My life revolved around softball growing up, and when I wasn’t on the field I found myself always being drawn to horses. I lived through friends in 4H and neighbors that would let me come clean stalls and feed and groom their horses in return for some trail riding and horse loves.
The older I got, the more time softball required and less time I was able to spend with my equestrian friends. I went on to play college softball and then became a college coach after graduating. I ended up moving to South Dakota for a coaching job and that’s when I will say I started to feel like I found my style.
A couple years later, I met my now husband, packed up and moved to Wyoming and that’s when everything clicked. I found my community, I found the lifestyle that I had always dreamed of, and most importantly I found myself. I didn’t grow up on a ranch, I don’t have an [agricultural] background, I didn’t come from a family with a rodeo legacy, and I am not going to sit here and pretend that I fit the definition of “Western”. But I have always felt my soul being drawn toward the Western way of life. Hence my name, Western Soul Nicole.
What inspired you to create plus size Western content?
For as long as I can remember, I have always been a big girl. When it came to playing softball it was celebrated, but when it came to being a normal girl off the field, I never felt like I fit in. Clothes fit me differently than all my friends, I was bullied for years for being fat and I let that affect my confidence and mental well being. I unfortunately ended up developing an eating disorder from the pressure of not being the standard skinny girl, starting in middle school that I lived with and battled into my adult years. Fast forward into my mid 20’s, I finally started to accept myself for who I am. I started slowly branching out and dressing in clothes that made me feel confident. I have always been drawn to Western fashion and started to incorporate that into my style the more confident I got. One day
I found myself scrolling through IG and noticed all these amazing confident women in the Western fashion industry and realized none of them looked like me. The moment that I realized I should be that voice was after I posted a picture wearing a felt hat that I loved but had been so hesitant to wear because of what others might think or say. I ended up receiving so much love in return that gave me the confidence to start sharing my outfits. From that point on I decided to be unapologetically myself, and since then I have shared my life and adventures in Wyoming, plus size styled outfits, and collaborated with brands that carry clothing for women that look like me! All of my growth and journey to self love is thanks to my husband, Zach. He continually pushes me to be more confident and love myself for who I am. (He even helps style some of my outfits).
Can you describe your experience in the Western fashion space?
My experience in Western fashion is minimal compared to my reach more into plus size fashion. I have been posting my plus size outfits with my Western flair since 2019 but I didn’t take it seriously until about a year ago. [It] started as a creative outlet and that led to me forming a connection with so many women that struggle to feel confident in what they’re wearing and finding cute clothing options. The more I posted, the more I had women reaching out with the same problems over and over with nothing changing in the fashion industry (specifically Western fashion). I hope to grow my reach into Western fashion by continuing to form connections with women and brands. I want to keep pushing for inclusive sizing and make it known that a large demographic of women are not being seen!
What would you like to see from Western retailers and brands in the future?
In the future, I would like to be able to walk into a store [or] shop online knowing that I’m going to have the same stylish and quality options as standard size women. This goes for clothing, boots, and accessories. I want to see options in actual plus sizing (1X-5X). I want wide calf options from major boot brands. I want what every other standard size woman is offered. If a brand is already making an item, make the size run larger, make calf options wider, and just overall be more inclusive. Another major change I would like to see is beautiful women of all size ranges represented from major brands across the Western industry. I am more likely to support and shop with a brand if I see more than just the standard size model in their clothing.
Where do you see the plus size Western fashion trends going next year?
If brands start becoming more size inclusive, I see plus size fashion becoming more bold. I say bold because today when you type “plus size clothing” into your search bar, you usually see outdated and unflattering prints and cuts that do nothing but hide our figures. You don’t usually see the same selection you see in straight sizes, so women then automatically think “I shouldn’t wear that because it only looks good on girls who are smaller than me”. But, the more options we get as plus size women, the more confidence we get in wearing the newest and latest trends. Curvy girls won’t feel hidden in the shadows from mainstream fashion and will finally feel seen. I see women finally accepting their bodies and confidently wearing whatever the hell they want!
What does inclusive fashion mean to you?
Inclusive fashion to me means being able to confidently shop online or in person and not have to hesitate if there will even be a selection of options for me. For example, it’s so defeating seeing a cute top and going to the store’s website and seeing standard sizing only. Smaller boutiques and brands aren’t to blame either. It starts with their vendors not offering the same quality items in plus size, and bigger brands not continually pushing to be inclusive even when they have the means to. I want to be able to shop at the same stores as my favorite influencers and not have to find a dupe or settle for something not as cute. This goes for clothing and boots. I will say the two most frequently asked options I get in my inbox are “where do you buy plus size jeans?” and “which boots are wide calf friendly?”. Unfortunately both of those lists are small. Which means there is such a large demographic of women waiting for a brand or two to wake up and offer sizing for all of us.
Which Western brands meet the standard of inclusivity to you?
Unfortunately I can’t say really any are the standard. Some well known western brands are getting better, but not consistent enough for me to say they are inclusive. Wrangler, Ariat, Kimes, Idyllwind, and Rock & Roll Denim offer some extended sizing. But extended sizing (XS, XL, XXL) is different from plus sizing (1X-5X) and many people don’t realize that. I am 5’10 size 18/20, and I can sometimes fit in jeans from one of the brands I listed and that isn’t okay.
Give us some recommendations for plus size Western clothing.
There are some smaller boutiques and brands that do an amazing job offering extended sizing. I have tried to add to my list of businesses I support and would love to make my personal list longer one day. These are the stores that I know I can go and they will carry my size in most, if not all items:
Who stands out as representation in the Western fashion industry?
The plus size community in the western industry is still pretty small. With more options in the future, I hope to see more women grow their confidence and help other women feel beautiful in their own skin. The women who represent our community and inspire me are:
What influences your personal style?
My personal style is influenced day to day by different things. Currently I am almost 7 months pregnant, so leggings or dresses are about my only clothing options lately. But I still love looking into mainstream fashion trends, Western fashion and where it’s going, and city trends. One thing that is one size fits all is jewelry, and I always try to wear my favorite pieces no matter if I’m rocking a graphic tee or I’m all glammed up.
Who are your style icons?
Ashley Graham, Lainey Wilson, and Caroline Munsick.
Do you have a favorite Western fashion influencer?
I have been following and inspired by so many Western influencers, but these are my go to fashion icons that I know for a fact stand with my mission for plus size fashion and support and uplift me everyday:
From Nicole: I am grateful for my small platform and the women I am able to connect with each day. I want to work with brands and retailers to bridge the gap and continue being a voice for women like me.