updated 05/11/1998 AT 01:00 AM EDT
•originally published 05/11/1998 AT 01:00 AM EDT
Not that traditionalists fell out of favor during the ceremony, which was broadcast live to over 17 million viewers on CBS. Tim McGraw, with pregnant wife Faith Hill, wore a jacket and jeans to nab four statuettes for the pair's duet "It's Your Love." Cowboy hats topped Garth Brooks (in black Wranglers) and Dwight Yoakam, while Pam Tillis chose her spangled Mon Atelier slip dress "as a throwback, my own personal tribute to Tammy Wynette."
Whatever their statement, many of the nearly 6,000 attendees—unlike their Hollywood counterparts—took pains to appear down-home. "I'm normally a no-makeup, sweatpants-wearing single mom," said New Female Vocalist winner Lee Ann Womack, in a spaghetti-strap dress by Carla Westcott. But the award for aw-shucks humility went to Travis Tritt, who came in Levi's and a suede shirt by Gossamer Wings. "I just wear what I feel comfortable in," he said. "I've tried to have style—but I've never actually been in it."
Steven Cojocaru and Julie Jordan in Los Angeles