Lee Pitts: Burning Questions
I know the cowboy and cowgirl community looks to me as a stylish trendsetter who is always in fashion. As a man of few fashion surprises who owns at least three pairs of jeans and a stack of T shirts, some even without colorful pictures of cows or cars on them, I realize I have a responsibility to share my insight as to what’s fashionable.
I’m constantly barraged with questions like, “What’s in style, shotgun chaps or chinks? Fringe or no fringe, vest or no vest, Pendleton or polyester, a feather in one’s hat or a hat band, belt or suspenders, wrist watch or pocket watch, jinglebobs on your spurs or no jinglebobs?
As a leatherworker I’m often asked if it’s fashionable to put your name on the back of your belt or did that style go out with Lyndon Johnson? (I prefer initials on the tip of your belt.) And yes, you should wear a belt and pull up your pants. Even though teenagers are often seen with their pants pulled down like they have $500 worth of nickels in them, it’s not a style that will ever catch on with the cowboy crowd. Can you imagine Trevor Brazile getting off his horse after roping a calf and mooning the crowd in Vegas at the NFR?
The top five five questions I get from people who want to dress as stylish as myself are…
#5 Levi or Wrangler? I was a Levi man in my younger years but that was before I learned that Levi gives hundreds of millions of dollars to extremely liberal causes, while Wrangler sponsors the NFR. So now I’m a Wrangler man. Okay, okay, the fact that Levis now cost $60 per pair might have a little something to do with my fashion awakening. At any time you could add up the cost of everything I’m wearing and the total wouldn’t be near $60! Compromise position: Cinch jeans.
#4 Square toe or pointy toe? I notice a lot of rodeo cowboys and cowgirls are wearing square toed boots these days but, call me old-fashioned, I believe that proper boots should have pointy toes so you can get your foot out of the stirrup faster with less hang up. Compromise position: My favorite boots have always been Justin Ropers with a round toe. Under no circumstance should a cowboy or cowgirl wear those silver toe caps on their boots that make them look like derelict rock and roll singers.
#3 Outside or inside? Because I also make spur leathers people ask if the buckles should be on the outside or inside? It depends on what part of the country you’re from. If you’re from California the buckles should be on the inside so you can put a big gaudy concha on the outside of your spur leathers. If you live closer to Texas and Nebraska it’s fashion forward to wear the buckles on the outside which is more practical. Compromise position: I really like the three piece spur leathers with a concha on the outside and the buckles in the middle.
#2 Wild rag or bolo tie? Wild rag for sure, unless you happen to be from Arizona. I’ve traveled that state extensively and have found that only an Arizonian can wear a bolo tie and look good at it. Arizona cowgirls are also the only ones who look good with big old Squash blossoms around their neck. Maybe it’s the turquoise? Compromise position. Do like I do and don’t wear either one because neither a wild rag or bolo tie looks good with a tee shirt.
#1 Black or white? The number one question: “Is it more fashionable to wear a white (actually grey) or black hat?” I used to wear nothing but silver bellies but I’ll admit that nothing looks better than a properly shaped black hat, except under really dusty conditions. I’ve seen some auctioneers wear brown hats, but you have to be really courageous and good looking to pull this look off. Compromise position: Just wear a straw hat all year round. They’re lots cheaper and you won’t care as much if one happens to blow away or get stepped on by a bull or horse. I’ll admit straw hats don’t look good if you wear one with a suit but I tend to avoid any enterprise that requires wearing one of them darn things.