The National Western Stock Show gives “city buffs” the opportunity to face real ranchers, cowboys and representatives of the rural lifestyle.
Once a year, they dust off their cowboy hats — which they probably bought in the 1980s when the movie “Urban Cowboy” popularized ranch dressing.
Now it is the popular television show “Yellowstone” that is bringing back western wear.
The Gazette collected tips, tricks and observations from experts and attendees of the Stock Show, which runs through Jan. 22 at the National Western Complex, 4655 Humboldt St., Denver.
Here’s what we learned about the clothes that need to fit in … or not.
From Kim Green, of Mills’ Hollywood Cowgirl: There are some fashion tips for a woman’s wardrobe.
Fringe: Whether it’s a handbag, a scarf, a vest or even a wedding dress, tassels are back and are especially relevant in Western clothing.
“Dig out that piece of fringe in your closet and show it off,” Green said.
According to People magazine, searches for “fringed dresses” increased by 225%.
Skin hair: Called “hair-on hide,” the term translates to slapping a square of cowhide on anything. Dotted fur trims add western flair to belts, cowboy hats, boots and purses.
We even spied a cowhide fly swatter to ward off pests on hot, lazy days. For more visit Hair-on Hide Fly Swatter — Cattle Kate.
A unique addition to the home fly trap, this furry skin is cut in the shape of a horse’s head to combat pesky insects. It comes on a sturdy metal wire handle. Hair-on skin will vary in color. Great gift! Made in Idaho.
Aztec Patterns: The color on the accessory can brighten up an otherwise subtle western look.
Turquoise: Turquoise has never gone out of fashion as a Western accessory, and vintage rings worn on two or three fingers of each hand are especially chic. Like silver-framed pumpkin flower necklaces worn over a dark turtleneck, the bigger the gem the better.
Cowboy hats: For Green and many other observers of Western clothing, headgear is essential.
“The cowboy hat says it all,” she said. “A statement is in the form and material of which it is made.”
A person can show up at the National Western Stock Show in the most expensive boots and jeans, but a musty straw hat from a thrift store with a cheap band will make you look like a fraud. Green says:
“You don’t come to a show wearing a straw hat like you’d wear to a country music festival.”
Do not wear tights. They’re not pants.
DO NOT pull out the brightly colored Wranglers that were all the rage 20 years ago. According to Western fan Green, they were all the rage at the turn of the 21st century, but they’re a beacon of uncool in 2023.
Some things never change, and jeans are still the most acceptable legwear — but you need to know which brand is the coolest. An unofficial survey showed that it is crucial who makes the jeans.
Of the three most popular stock jeans, according to an anecdotal survey, Levi’s, Cinch and Wrangler were the most worn brands, with the overall preference being Wrangler or Cinch (caveat: Cinch is a major sponsor of Denver’s National Western Stock Show).
The Gazette gathered some valuable western wear tips from Steve Weil, third-generation owner and president of Rockmount Ranch Wear Manufacturing Co.
Rockmount shirts are worn by rock stars and fighters alike. They were also featured in the aforementioned “Yellowstone” show along with Rockmount’s custom silk scarves and short shirts.
Weil’s three most valuable western wearing tips
Never wear a hat with more character than you have.
Don’t look like everyone else has no cattle.
Choose fabrics that you’ll be comfortable wearing anytime, anywhere.
“Polyester is a bad start,” Weil said.
Weil reminds us that the cowboy boot is a defining garment that can make or break your authenticity as a cowboy or girl.
“There are boots made 20 years ago that should never see the pavement,” he said. “No silver tips.”
Weil said that every year, Colorado politicians pull out their old western clothes that don’t “pass the test.”
Unfortunately, he did not want to reveal names, but said it was a shame the clothes politicians pull out of their closets at this time of year.
“Some of these guys need to get with the program,” said Weil, whose grandfather Jack Weil lived to be 107 and worked most days of his life.
The Rockmount store is located downtown at 1626 Wazee St., Denver.
Of course, not everyone cares how they look at the Stock Show.
Emily and Stephanie Gillis weren’t embarrassed to admit that their city sunglasses, tiny shoulder bags and open-toed shoes didn’t suit them.
Emily said, “We’re only here for the yarn.”