Texas Living

High Fashion in Houston

By Lisa Martin 3.28.13

Whether they’re cheering for their favorite cowboy or crooning along with some country music legend late at night, Houston’s well-heeled women don their designer duds, handmade boots and high-falutin jewelry when they attend the Livestock Show & Rodeo. This 77-year-old highlight of the city’s swirling social season, which also raises millions of dollars toward scholarships for Houston ISD students, has long proved a fashionista’s dream mix of down-home and haute couture.

Buckles and bling

“This year, belts are quite wide, and the women here are wearing them over a shirt or dress,” says Elizabeth Goetz, a spokeswoman for Pinto Ranch, purveyors of all manner of luxury western-themed wear. “And rather than just plain silver belt buckles, we are seeing more rhinestones, turquoise, and engraved silver.”

Turquoise stands out as a perennial favorite in statement jewelry as well. “Think big earrings, necklaces, and cuffs,” says Goetz. “When it comes to western fashion, turquoise is a neutral. It looks great with everything and never goes out of style.”

Boot scoot

Don Wheeler, who owns Houston’s renowned Wheeler Boots, makes some 150 pair of boots by hand each year, often fashioned from exotic skins like alligator and ostrich. “The standard walking-heel height is an inch-and-a-half but most of my ladies want an inch-and-three-quarters or two,” he explains.

At the Livestock Show & Rodeo, ladies’ boots are definitely made for gawkin’! Expect to encounter a lot of crystal embellishments, fancy embroidery, and colorful stitching along with bright leather inlays done in distinctive designs.

Fringe benefits

“Fringe is a big story this year, with Ralph Lauren bringing back vintage items that featured fringe quite heavily,” says Goetz, who reports that Pinto Ranch customers are snapping up boots, skirts, vests, and jackets adorned with fringe.

“If you’re not sold on the look, you might pair a cotton dress with a shawl that has fringe,” she says. “That’s enough to give yourself some western flair.”