How The West Is Worn

February 13, 1992

It isn't necessary to trick yourself out like Dale Evans to go western. The right pieces have as much punch as a ten-gallon hat. Here's what to look for:

* Leather patterns seen on saddlebags and holsters in the old West are working their way in to new belts and bags as design elements. Look for tooled leather, fancy lacing and silver studs.

* Invest in some classic lean jeans and work at breaking them in. Some designers will soften them up for you, but they won't have the fit and feel of old friends.

* Think fringe. Think Bill Cody on "The Young Riders," Kevin Costner in "Dances With Wolves." Remember all the old westerns where the cavalry scout wore fringed and beaded buckskins? You get the picture. Just go easy; you don't want to look like a movie extra.

* A swingy, long skirt reminiscent of a square dance may be the freshest addition to your summer wardrobe.

* Find a great new belt with a saddle buckle and metal tipped rider. Wear it with everything -- jeans, skirts and hip-slung over

short little

dresses.

* Tie up the western look with and inexpensive surplus store bandanna. Knot it at the neck, use it as a belt, wrap it on a hip, pull it through your hair. For some years now, young trendies around Baltimore have been using rolled bandannas as dog collars for their pets. Those little doggies look mighty frisky. Stick to the classic navy and red prints. The pastel varieties send a different message.

* Pick up on gingham checks, a naive old pattern that looks sophisticated now.

* Resurrect a bolo tie, but wear it low on the cord instead of tight under the collar. Consider turning the metal slide into a pin.

* Bury that rhinestone cowgirl shirt of a few years ago once and for all. It never worked.

* Think seriously about investing in a good pair of cowboy boots. They're here to stay.

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