Fashion: Home on the Range

By Emily Smith

Saddle up, Fayetteville! Like it or not, the Southwestern look is creeping around every corner, heavily clad in head-to-toe denim and fringed suede, hoping to make it into your Fall 2009 wardrobe. Obtaining the look is as easy as apple pie, but, please remember to leave your dusters, spurs and skin-tight roper jeans tucked deep away until next rodeo season, lest you be mistaken for last year’s Rodeo Queen!

A little southwestern flavor goes a long way when venturing down the cowboy highway. One key piece of advice: Never is it necessary to dress from cranium to phalanges (and all areas in between) with any theme…cowboy, Indian, or otherwise. There is a fine line between cowboy and outlaw and if I were the Fashion Sheriff in these here parts, I’d have to arrest you for ‘Cowboy Overload’ and slap you with a ‘Gross Misuse of Southwestern Accessories’ fine. So, stick to the basic lay of the land, go easy on this trend…Whoa, Nelly!…and you, too, can invigorate your closest, Southwestern style.

If you look closely, I am sure that you will find that you are already the proud owner of several key western pieces. Cowboy boots are the most basic staple and can be easily found in local thrift stores. Actually, most boots are priced cheaper than a tank of gas, are cooler than the latest hybrid, and can and will outlast any vehicle while usually appreciating in value.

If you are like most of working-class America and have no time to scour ‘mom & pop’ stores, Ebay has become a vintage cowboy boot lovers paradise and can be a great source for finding an accurate cross-section of what is available from all over the world.

Cowboy boots were kicking dust around long before the Industrial Revolution and they represent a simpler time of exploration, determination and adventure for our young, prospering country. Each pair tells their own proud story of hard work and honest living in each stitch. These throwback boots standalone and are the perfect pard’ner to jeans and a white t-shirt. They don’t need spurs or a matching hat and buckle, and blur all gender and age barriers. Simply put, this American Southwest staple is made for everyone.

Once you have wrangled some authentic Southwest footwear, aim your lasso at some other key western pieces that scream, “ I had a small (but very important) bit role in 1980’s Urban Cowboy.”

Turquoise and silver jewelry is synonymous with the Native American tribes of the Southwest and have made their way back into the mainstream in recent years. Sometimes paired with coral or abalone, this handcrafted jewelry is often big and bold and makes a statement. Artisan turquoise is the must-have western accessory to add a little kick to your salsa!

Other fabulous western-inspired finds such as fringed leather bags, beaded headbands and necklaces, copper wrist cuffs, bolo ties and pearl button western shirts can all also be found at local thrifting havens.

Remember to incorporate your newly-filled cowboy knapsack of western goodies with contrasting pieces in your wardrobe, keeping in mind that you are not dressing to take home the blue ribbon at the county fair. Evoke your most stunning inner Dolly Parton…or Reba or EmmyLou, then tone it down a notch or ten and get out there and shine like a Rhinestone Cowboy!

Take some inspiration from local model, Kata Hilliard and her thrift store southwestern finds in these accompanying photos.

Categories: Fashion