Living the Cowboy Dream

In Fort Worth, it's easy to be a cowboy--even if it's only make-believe. Here's how to do it.
Les Thomas

One sunny morning, when I was tired of being a city slicker, I hit the trail for Fort Worth.

Because I barely know one end of a horse from the other, I call on a pair of local experts to show me what it takes to turn city slickers into cowboys and cowgirls. Pam Minick, one of the honorees at the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame in Fort Worth, is a champion barrel racer and former Miss Rodeo America. Bo Jimeson, a former rodeo bronc rider and lifelong Fort Worth resident, manages the bull-riding contests held each weekend at Billy Bob's Texas dance hall.

Our first stop is M.L. Leddy's, the Neiman Marcus of Western wear in Fort Worth and the oldest shop in the Stockyards National Historic District. The hat is the most important part of a cowboy's wardrobe. Straw hats start at around $50 at M.L. Leddy's, but customers pay up to $2,950 for the store's top-of-the-line pure beaver head wear. Each hat is shaped to fit the wearer.

Our next stop is the boot department, where Pam and Bo try on pairs of M.L. Leddy's boots. Standard footwear starts at about $300,but prices for custom boots range from $500 to $5,000. After you get your feet traced and measured, details are added to the store's boot ledgers that date back to before the forties.

If you want less expensive boots, try Fincher's, Luskey's/Ryon's, and other shops in the Stockyards area. The Maverick Fine Western Wear, another Stockyards store, features designer Western fashions, retro clothes from the thirties and forties, and period clothing. "It's one of the best places for cowgirl clothes," Pam says.

If you want to look the part, it's extremely important to buy the right brand of jeans. Most rodeo cowboys wear Wranglers--the official jeans of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association. Men wear Wranglers "cowboy cut" style 13 MWZ. "Ladies wear 20X Wranglers," Pam points out.

Starch is crucial. One of the reasons people in other cities can't be cowboys is because dry cleaners don't put enough starch in their clothes. But they do in Fort Worth. Buy a pair of Wranglers, take them to any dry cleaners in the city, and ask for heavy starch. When you pick them up, your jeans will be as rigid as bookshelves.

After shopping, Pam and Bo take me outside in time to watch wranglers drive Fort Worth's herd of longhorns down Exchange Avenue. They're living the cowboy dream. Here in Cowtown, you can too.

For more information: Fort Worth Convention & Visitors Bureau: 1-800-433-5747 or www.fortworth.com.

This article is from the May 2003 issue of Southern Living. Because prices, dates, and other specifics are subject to change, please check all information to make sure it's still current before making your travel plans.