Taos Style: Honoring the Old West
by Sandra Richardson
The elements of “Taos Style,” are diverse. Vast and varied and
beautiful, like the terrain, Taos Style is full of surprises. The
fashion credo here is “Do your own thing!”
What is the source of this zest for independence? The sign entering town
says “Taos--the Soul of the Southwest.” For me, that conjures up images
of cowboys & Indians, outlaws & rebellion, untamed & adventurous.
Taos is certainly full of characters who fit this description. My
artistic friend, Gretchen, confided to me, “I did in a good pair of
jeans with a chainsaw once.” Taos style can be rough and tough, so jeans
play their part, but even Wranglers better watch out. .
Western wear is integral to Taos tradition, but you don’t need to be a
cowboy to wear cowboy boots here. In fact, you can get the real cowpokes
to break them in for you (like horses). Some great pre-tamed,
second-hand cowboy boots are available at an outlandish, outlaw store on
Kit Carson Rd. (of course), called Horsefeathers.
Horsefeathers Hats & Cowgirl Shirt
Just clamber up the
old boardwalk stairs, jingle open the door, and time travel to Wild West
Land. A kaleidoscope of cowboy boots (from Tony Lamas to lesser knowns)
in yellow, green or brown cow, snakes, crocodiles or lizards, or
flamboyant embroidered bluebirds, and the smell of hand-worked leather,
assaults your senses. Owner, Lindsey Enderby, looks every bit the
cowboy, with his big white hat and stovepipe jeans. Lindsey is famous
nationwide for his phantasmagorical collection of cowboy paraphernalia.
He’s been in this biz since 1989, but the vibe is 1800s. (Check out the
website: www.cowboythings.com) Lindsey is every bit the renegade
humorist as well. You can coordinate your Tony Lama boots with battered
old suitcases, painted up with phrases such as, “Ride your horse like
you stole it!” An old glass jar containing free candy boasts a sign
saying, “Reward for good attitude.”(I wonder if the spurs hanging from
the rafters reward bad attitude?)
The back room features a wall of cowboy hats, too--some old, some new.
As luck would have it, the long drink of water hanging out in the store
turned out to be none other than Ritch Rand, of Rands Custom Hats. Ritch
was down from Montana, where he manufactures the famous
just-for-you-with-your-name-in-the-sweatband cowboy hats he started
making when he was just a boy. “It’s become a bit of a monster,” he
quips, as business is so brisk, there’s now a four month waiting period.
Lindsey will take your measurements and pony express your order to his
riding buddy. I bet it’s worth the wait.
We all had fun dressing me up. I donned a pair of pre-loved, brown
appliquéd black boots, which were more “Oh Boy” boots than “Ow Boy” new
boots I’ve had in the past. Lindsey gave me some tips about cramming wet
newspaper into the ‘break zones’ to make them behave. He also showed me
a contraption called a “boot jack” to prevent hernia when removing
I grabbed a bandanna (which another sign assures me can also be used as
a coffee strainer), looped it through a scarf holder made from a
sheriffs badge, to accessorize a Zandi Designs Ancestor Vests
(custom-made, incorporating old photos transferred to cloth). Mine
features Aunt Blanche, who homesteaded in Mills, NM in 1888. Perfect!
We added some old fashioned zest to my Git’up in Jerry’s gentrified
horse and carriage that now canters around the Plaza. Jerry and “Big
Boy” of Mountain Spirit Carriage Co. are a wonderful addition to Taos,
offering romantic wedding transport, tours of the Plaza, or just good
fun and a great way to show off your “Taos Style.”
Mountain Spirit Carriage, “Big Boy”
Remember: Taos Style
is “Do Your Own Thing!”… Just do it with renegade flair, unfettered
heart, and Southwest soul.
For more info on Taos designers, to let us know about
upcoming fashion events, or general comments on Taos Style, call Zandi
Zandi Designs Original Fashions
Ranchos de Taos, NM. 87557
Motto: Goddesses Don’t Iron (most clothes are wash & wear)