Sunday, September 25, 2005


Western fashion trends have a big bling bling

By Julie Carter

The West and those that live in it will often lean toward trends of fashion dictated by the folks in the city. Practical is not always an issue for those garbed for the public somewhere beyond the barbwire boundaries of the ranch.

For a couple of years now western fashion has taken on a retro look of shiny satin, contrasting colored piping, embroidered flowers, fringed everything and the newly coined phrase of “bling bling.”

The bling is offered up in the flash and shine of embedded rhinestones covering everything you can imagine in the accessory category. From the assortment of western wear catalogs to the buckle babe seen walking around the rodeo grounds, bling is definitely “in.”

The brilliant luminescence radiates from hoop earrings the size of dinner plates, horseshoe shaped medallions hung from a rope around the neck and western belts that have more rhinestone candle power than even Las Vegas would try to claim. There is no color of bling you can’t find to match your wardrobe, including those hot pink, cerulean blue or lime green “fat baby” boots.

Rest assured in case you weren’t, that western wear hasn’t missed the current trend of low riding jeans and clingy high riding shirts for the chickadees. The real problem with that is bottom line (pun intended) the space in between and how it looks fluffing over those bling bling belts in rolls of “weight issues.” It is a fact of the world that not everyone - no matter the age - is cut out for every fashion trend that comes down the pike.

Bling is also available on an assortment of accessories for the horse including critical gear such as breast collars and bridles. I think it’s a natural migration from the other people trends that ended up on their horses.

Years ago it was “speed beads”—a braided beaded necklace for the performance horse to wear either as a decoration or the promise of a faster time in the speed events. It was my experience the “speed” thing was false advertising.

A real deal ranch wife friend of mine recently took part in what she called “an old hide ride” which was a trail ride for women who were on approach to those fabled golden years. She said she was the only one on the trip that didn’t have a pair of rhinestone rimmed sunglasses and the little snug skull hugging caps with some sort of bling bling rhinestone emblem on it.

She was nearly an outcast. The bling has spanned the age gap in most circles and if you can’t wear it well on the waist at least in good fashion conscience you are to wear it on your head. There is absolutely no reason any longer to not “shine shine shine” no matter where you are.

Perhaps though, this too shall pass to only show up again in 30 years. I recently did a double take when I saw the pointed- toe wing-tipped boots of late 60’s-early 70’s fame back on the “western” fashion forefront.

Back then it was the hippies vs. the cowboys. Now it is hard to tell us apart.

Julie can be reached for comment at

© Julie Carter 2005

Time to pause

by Larry Gabriel

Nothing in life is perfect, but South Dakota has some fall days that come really close.

This is not a place of sky scrapers and millions of yards of concrete.
Ours is a natural world dominated by big clear sky, the land, and things of the land.

In the winter, we listen to the winds howl. In the spring, we listen to the rains pound. In the summer, we listen to the corn grow. In the fall, we listen to the quiet.

There are precious few days with no wind in South Dakota, but they are most precious in the fall, when the temperatures are mild and it is a joy to be outside for any reason.

On such days leaves float straight down as they fall from the trees. The sky has a pale blue cast caused by a few high clouds.

The sunlight is now warm instead of hot, and its harsh glare is replaced with a softer light that brings every detail of the landscape into focus.
You can watch a Monarch butterfly travel south for a quarter of a mile if you keep your eye on it.

The hawks and sea gulls are migrating. The blackbirds are talking about it in large swarms. Waterfowl will soon follow. Many of the smaller birds and doves are already gone.

The trees are mostly quiet, but for the squirrel who is more worried about where to hide his food than he is about the passing cars.

The small grain crops are in and beans and corn harvests are underway. The gardens are picked. The salsa and other canned goods are on the shelf.

Even the livestock are less anxious, possibly because their young are now big enough to fend for themselves.

The children are in school giving quiet rest to streets, homes and parents.

Bands of foolish young pheasants are roaming the roads as if they owned them. Let them have their day. Their time is short and a day of surprise is not far away.

Capitol Lake is empty and quiet. The thousands of noisy geese that will converge on it are still grazing someplace in Canada, I suspect.

At such times, it almost feels like the world has stopped. Nature never really stops, but each fall she seems to pause and quietly admire herself.

There is no particular point to this column. Fall is simply a good time for us to pause and remember just how lucky we are to live in a place like this.

Larry Gabriel is the South Dakota Secretary of Agriculture

No matter where we live, it wouldn't hurt to pause and give thanks for what we have.

I welcome submissions for this feature of The Westerner


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