On the Fringe; or, Wearing the West

I get two questions every day as I ride the high country writing a novel (don’t ask about progress, please),

as I work hard (thank you, all the editors I work for–if I could, I would buy you all cayuses),

and as I look for  awesome land to purchase out west for my own little rancheroo (possibilities but nothing yet). 

Question 1.) How many cowboy boots do I own? Around 40, last count. And that’s not counting the stylin’ painfully pointed pair I can’t wear anymore. I’m about to take out the kitchen cabinets so as to have more room to show them.

Question 2.) Why don’t you wear a cowboy hat? Because I would look like a dork. It takes a special person to wear a Stetson, such as the delicious Timothy Olyphant playing Raylan on Justified. I would insert a gratuitous shot of him but I’m on a mission.

Call it a “fringe” mission.

What’s up with fringe? I have an ambivalent relationship with the flappy little pieces of leather/fabric myself, having grown up in the 1970s and had my own style mishaps. But some people can carry it off. Or I should say characters. Fringe on a jacket, shoes, or shirt brings a hyper-western to the wear that usually seems better on the big screen than off. There are exceptions but the standard for looking good in fringed coat is pretty darn high. As you will see…

Fringe could have been merely utilitarian, as it wicks moisture away from the body and provides useful ties for your mountain man needs, but it also elaborates on one’s stature–useful for priests.

Fringe in olden, Mesopotamian times

Long fringe seems to envelop something larger than one’s physical body. Not to get all metaphysical on you, but there must be a reason why it’s used in cultures throughout the world for ceremonial costume.

Fringe becomes this elder dancer.

Westerners used it for its usefulness. Trust me, badass Calamity Jane would not have chosen something so decorative unless it helped shelter her from the elements.

Calamity Jane takes no prisoners in her fringe.

Western performers used fringe because it looked super awesome. Roy Rogers and Dale Evans didn’t need no stinky buckskin fringe. They had umbrellas for the rain and heaters in their cars.

Roy Rogers and Dale Evans at the 61st Academy Awards. Photo by Alan Light

As for me? Am I long fringe or short? I prefer the short fringe. It goes well with the fast-paced urban lifestyle and doesn’t get tangled up in the subway doors as they close.



Or maybe I prefer it because I know I can’t compete with someone like Neil Young, whose awesomely long fringe deserves a special video shout-out.


But basically I wear mine to borrow a little piece of the Coop, because who doesn’t need to feel like a Silver-Screen Western Hero? That’s the real reason behind the fringe. Call it dorky. Or not. But I’m in good company.

Gary Cooper. Looking good.

Can’t resist.

Gratuitous Timothy Olyphant "Justified" pic.

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