Ten-gal­lon hats off to cow­boy towns Dal­las and Fort Worth

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Travel & Indulgence - SU­SAN KURO­SAWA

At Wild Bill’s West­ern Store in Dal­las’s his­toric West End dis­trict there are big, bad hats and fringed jerkins for sale and all man­ner of cow­boy boots em­bel­lished with stitch­ing and (per­haps) rhine­stones; styles come in names such as Laredo Run­away and Mad Dog Goat. A belt buckle em­bed­ded with a blink­ing great turquoise or in the shape of a steer’s head? Look no fur­ther.

It’s amus­ing how of­ten we have wardrobe brain­snaps on our trav­els, dur­ing which we buy dis­tinc­tive cloth­ing and ac­ces­sories that speak of a place but when worn any­where else look like fancy dress. This is par­tic­u­larly true of sarongs, which are de rigueur at trop­i­cal re­sorts but, back home, who can re­mem­ber one sin­gle knot from the spe­cial ty­ing ses­sion you at­tended by the pool? Straw beach­comber hats? Per­fect in Fiji. Fool­ish in Frenchs For­est.

In Ja­pan, it seems pos­i­tively re­spect­ful, and al­ways rather fun, to pad around a tra­di­tional inn wear­ing a loose-fit­ting yukata and flip-flop slip­pers. This clobber doesn’t al­ways look the part in, say, Mel­bourne or Mackay, but how ir­re­sistible to buy up big, just the same. Friends have re­turned from Euro­pean alpine climes with em­broi­dered peas­ant blouses, dirndls and feath­ered felt caps and spent many long months hop­ing for a yo­delling night or Bavar­ian beer fest at their com­mu­nity club or hall. Ditto for saris, sal­war kameez and Pun­jabi suits. Once I bought a floaty dress by Rus­sian ex­pat designer Mi­choutouchkine in Port Vila, Van­u­atu, only to dine at my re­sort that night in a restau­rant that had the iden­ti­cal swirly pink-and-white pat­tern on its table­cloths. Talk about blend­ing right in.

Texas is the ac­knowl­edged home of the hat and chaps of all kinds (and cow­girls, too) wear them, from the meet-and-greet guys and gals at Dal­las air­port to ho­tel door­men and taxi driv­ers. There are not nec­es­sar­ily any cows within cooee, although at the Stock Yards precinct in Fort Worth there are two cat­tle drives a day (11.30am and 4pm) and many a shop sell­ing west­ern clobber. And you might want to wor­ship at the Cow­boy Church where the Sun­day Ser­vice is at high noon, but let’s pre­sume it’s hats off for that one.

Fol­low on Instagram: su­sankuro­sawa

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