“Sharp-Dressed Man”

52 Pickup 2.0, #19, 5/12/2020

Robert Lang: “I feel like Columbo. Just one more question. I saw Craig at an event, and he is highly entertaining. My only complaint is that it was over WAY too soon. He took a question about his boots, and went through everything a cowboy wears, and it was very informative. Would he review all of that with the group? Also, he said that straw hats are worn in warm weather and you switch to felt after the first frost. When do you switch back to straw?”

Hi Robert,
I think I remember that event, and it was in the warm-up portion of the program. For those of you blessed to never have to sit through one of my yammerings, I always feel bad whenever audience members arrive early and have to sit out there waiting for me to get started, so I sometimes wander out and just take questions from them. I think in this instance somebody asked about my boots, and I told them about my bootmaker, a one-man outfit out of Roundup, Montana who has been taking care of me for years.

The conversation took on a broader scope when they asked me about my other gear, and I told the audience that you can pretty much tell where a cowboy is from by the way he wears it. For the sake of space, I’ll limit my essay on myself.

My felt hats come from Shale Rock Saddle Company out of Montana. I like the old-style, pinch-front cowboy hats, even though the rancher-style crown is more prevalent here in Northern Wyoming, probably because when I was growing up the two big names in rodeo were Casey Tibbs and Jim Shoulders and they wore those cowboy hats that had more of a fedora crown. Colorwise, I like browns and tans, but I’ve gotten kind of racy and have a new grey hat I’m particularly fond of… A lot of cowboys on the high plains wear their felt hats through the summer, but I generate too much heat and just can’t do that—so, when do I make the switch? Good question. The change-over to felt in the fall is pretty simple in that it’s usually first frost, but the spring switch to an Atwood palm-leaf is a little trickier. Last snow, which is a dicey proposition in Wyoming because we only have two seasons, winter and the 4th of July and it sometimes snows then, too.

If you don’t have a cowboy scarf, you’re missing out on one of the most useful tools in the western arsenal—I have used mine for just about everything under the sun, including facemask in these times of social distancing.

Shirts vary, especially since my wife is always attempting to upgrade my tastes. I tend to gravitate toward denim or chambray shirts that my wife says make me look like an escapee from the territorial prison.

Wranglers have always been the go-to jean for cowboys, but there are some of us that are built on the wide-body frame and can’t get our legs in those skinny things. I wear 501 Levi’s because they fit and still have a pocket-watch pocket. One of my favorite stories about that is when all of Levi Strauss’ workers told him he needed to get rid of the rivet in the crotch of his pants, he said no, that it was imperative to the construction of the jean, until one time he went camping with some friends and made the mistake of crouching around the fire a wee bit too long… The next Monday, the crotch rivet was gone.

Belt. I’ve put away all my old rodeo buckles because I’m tired of young whippersnappers that bend down and look at my belly proclaiming, “They had rodeos back then?” I like ranger belts, but I’ve also got a beautiful turquoise antique that Judy picked up for me and a Red Pony Bar & Grill one that I bring out on special occasions.

See you on the trail,

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