That’s a Mighty Nice Hat, Partner…

I’ve been on a western kick lately, devouring books by Elmer Kelton, Frederick Manfred and Larry McMurtry among others… and gobbling up western movies and TV shows, too. Tonight, I went to a book signing/reading of western authors at Dutton’s in Brentwood. Virtually all the authors who showed up (45 minutes late, by the way) were wearing cowboy hats and western garb. I thought it was a little silly… and they looked terribly out of place.

I’m a crime writer… I don’t show up at signings in a cop’s uniform… or dressed as a crime scene tech… or wearing in a trenchcoat and Fedora. Why do western writers feel they have to dress the part? If they don’t, will readers think their work isn’t authentic?

4 thoughts on “That’s a Mighty Nice Hat, Partner…”

  1. Frankly, I often wonder about the writers I read. How good can there stuff be since they don’t show up at signings dressed like Sherlock Holms.

  2. Well Lee,
    You did show up to FOB sporting that nice cast! You could have said you got that fighting crime or some sort of investigation. Just kidding!

  3. I don’t know those particular writers or what kind of “garb” they had on or how it looked, but in partial defense of the whole Western dress thing…I don’t think the idea of dressing up in trench coats or wearing a fedora is quite comparable.
    Western dress is still a going style, in large parts (mainly west & southwest) of the U.S. Maybe only a relatively small percentage of people ever wear or wore trench coats, but lots of people wear hats & boots in Texas. There’s always the chance that what you’re used to seeing on the streets of L.A. isn’t the only way people habitually dress. If they grew up in Montana on a cattle ranch they just naturally wear boots and jeans and hats. Some of the writers may have grown up on ranches — the majority are almost certainly city-types, but if they’re from the west or southwest, that may be how they’ve dressed their whole lives. (not everyone does in the west, of course, but it’s quite common.)
    I don’t know if I can articulate this clearly, but country dress seems to be more of a culture-wide thing; it’s not just about a single garment, e.g., trench coat or fedora.
    Maybe this is a city vs country thing or even coastal U.S. versus “flyover” U.S…the trench coats & fedoras are for city slickers who’ve now moved on to some other style, so of course, there’s no point in wearing them. The Western dress is for and about people who identify with a certain heritage and values and also want to be identified as those kind of people.
    A possibly related observation: many, maybe even most popular country musicians also wear hats and boots & etc. It’s maybe a minority, but it’s alive and well.


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