We love country singer-songwriter Leah Turner not just for her country-Mex brand of music but also for her sense of style.
We can’t get enough of singer-songwriter Leah Turner. Country cowgirl/vaquera with plenty of fringe with some sassy shakes of Tabasco, she’s gorgeous and talented and swimming in style, from the boots on her feet to the feather in her hat.
She was generous enough to let us premiere her cool new song “Vaquera and the Cowboy” and use it as the soundtrack for the behind-the-scenes video of our latest fashion shoot. And she took some time in the busy runup to the release of her new EP, Lost in Translation, to talk to C&I about her sense of style.
We’ve got the fashion goods for you, and Turner’s stylish playlist to boot.
Cowboys & Indians: Your mom was a jewelry designer and ballerina. What was it like growing up around her creativity? How has she influenced you?
Leah Turner: Both my parents are creative. My mama gave me her guitar, my first guitar. I still have it! She played and sang, but her love was dancing, and later on started her jewelry business, Paloma
Designs (paloma means “dove,” and doves represent peace). Her line is very earthy, Mexicana and Western, and it all started in New Mexico, where my dad is from. They made and sold Indian jewelry back in the day! You can see that in my style: the leather, turquoise, fringe with some sparkle. We are Latina. We love to shine!
C&I: You have a real sense of style. How do you describe your fashion taste?
Turner: Thank you! I would describe it as “grit and glamour.” I love my fringe. I love my conchos. I love my boots. I always try to put a little spin on my boots, whether it is gold or silver tips, chains, fringe, or platforms. I love my cowboy hats — the classic cowboy hat shape and my rancher shape. I always have a rose or a feather in my hat. Did you know that the shape of your hat or the style signified who you were as a cowboy? The shape of your cowboy hat defined you as a person. Pretty important piece to the wardrobe.
C&I: What has to be there for an outfit to work for you?
Turner: Shoes! I think the shoes make the outfit, tie the whole outfit together. Think about it: If you wear the wrong shoe for a certain outfit, the whole outfit is ruined. Shoes can take a T-shirt and jeans, the most basic outfit, and dress it up, dress it down, make it classy, or make it fun! Shoes are the boss of the outfit for me! They tell the outfit what direction it’s going in.
C&I: Any fashion don’ts for you?
Turner: Do not care what anyone thinks! You like it? You feel good in it? Wear it! You never know, you might start a trend. Fashion rules were meant to be broken — that’s how you get style, which I believe is personal to the individual.
C&I: Let’s talk some favorite pieces: boots, jewelry, hats, jackets, dresses — whatever! Tell us about your closet. …
Turner: My Jeffrey Campbell platform cowboy boots and these black gold-tipped cowboys boots. Haute hippie leather jacket with pearl and studs all down the sides of the arms. Any of my jeans that are concho’d, skinny legs or boot cut. My custom Travis Austin turquoise hat that has my grandmother’s broach, buffalo coins that my dad has had since he moved from New Mexico to California, and besame written on it (“Besame Mucho” was my nana’s favorite song).
C&I: Any designers/makers you seek out?
Turner: Manuel. All the time!!! He is a Mexican designer who has made jackets, suits, and dresses for not only the likes of Alan Jackson, Tanya Tucker, and Marty Stuart, but also people like Post Malone and Lady Gaga. I almost died when he let me wear some of his pieces!
C&I: Who would you turn to for the perfect outfit for a big awards show?
Turner: My dream: Balmain or Ralph Lauren. And, of course, Manuel always.
C&I: Who does your stage costuming, and what do you like to wear while performing?
Turner: Manuel, Haute Hippie, my stylists Blakely Collier and Jennifer Kemp, but sometimes I sew stuff together because I like it and pray it doesn’t come undone during a high note!!! I usually concho my own jeans, add fringe here and there! I basically take anything and make it EXTRA!
C&I: What’s your go-to clothing choice for a comfy day or night in?
Turner: Oversized tee, cutoffs, boots, or checkered Vans. Night in: boy shorts, tank top, or a big hoodie depending on the weather!
C&I: How about a night out on the town for dining and dancing?
Turner: Depends on where I am. I love me some faux leather Spanx pants! You can dress them up, dress them down; they keep everything in place, if ya know what I mean! Typically, knee-high boots or a sexy heel, an effortless top, leather jacket, hoops (always wear the hoops). The one thing I never leave without is my confidence. Even if I’m not feeling my best, I think of one thing I like about myself and stand in that for the night!
C&I: And now for musical style: We’d love a playlist of some favorites, including your own.
“Once Upon a Time in Mexico” — Leah Turner
“Sleep While I Drive” — Trisha Yearwood
We would always play this song when we were going from rodeo to rodeo, except my mom and I would sleep and Dad would drive.
“Vaquera and the Cowboy” — Leah Turner
“Most Nights” — Kat and Alex
Love what they are bringing to country music. They are such a force, and their vocals ... muerta!
“Maldita” — The Last Bandoleros
Been a fan of theirs for a very long time. They actually are the first that I was introduced to of the new Latino generation in country music, they effortlessly marry the two worlds.
“Girls” — Beyoncé
I mean, where’s the lie? Love the empowerment, and I am here for it.
“Besame Mucho” — Angela Aguilar
There have been so many amazing versions of this song recorded, but this one spoke to me. She is so young but so powerful. That is so inspiring to me, because heart always shines through. Age is only a number.
“Cowgirls Don’t Cry” — Brooks & Dunn and Reba
This is the story of my life, how I was raised.
“We All Bleed Red” — Ronnie Dunn
Brings me to what I always say, and that is, “If we can all start looking at the heart and not the outside, nothing will get ‘lost in translation.’” Our hearts are all the same color and so is the blood pumping through our veins.
“Things a Man Oughta Know” — Lainey Wilson
I just love this girl and her bell-bottom country!! We were inducted into CMT Next Women of Country together, and to see all she has accomplished is inspiring.
“Tin Man” — Miranda Lambert
This song is so stripped and so vulnerable! I don’t know anyone that hasn’t felt hurt so deep they wish they didn’t have a heart.
“You’re Gonna Love Me” — Hannah Dasher
She is unapologetically herself and that is refreshing!!!!! I love this girl a whole bunch.
Any song from Canciones de Mi Padre — Linda Ronstadt
Not only is she of Mexican American descent like myself, she kicked down every door. She had No. 1s in different genres. She was genreless, which is a dream. But in this particular set of songs, she was able to embrace her Mexican side and do a full Spanish album — something I would love to do!
“I Could Fall in Love” — Selena
I love the way she bounces in and out of Spanish and how she merged two worlds. I'm taking a page out of her book! She is an inspiration.