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FASHION: YEE HA!; Take your pardners for a barn-stormin' look, says Fashion Editor Carole Ann Rice.

When it comes to discussing fashion classics, everyone gets hung up on the usual suspects.

A well-tailored blazer, safari suits, twin sets and the little black dress constitute the sublime basics of the essential English wardrobe.

But western styling, with all its wild, wanton promise is as much part of day-to-day dressing as suits and court shoes as it returns time and time again in the designer's visions.

You don't have to be a Stand By Your Man sort of gal, with an achy breaky heart and a way with beans and coffee. Nor do you have to fall into the ranks of the legions of this country's line dance enthusiasts to feel that primal urge to pull on some cowboy boots and saddle up for some camp fire fashions.

Cowgirl icons include Doris Day as Calamity Jane and the sublime Jane Fonda as the gun-toting Catbalou, two fast-shooting babes who could silence a saloon bar just by tipping back their stetsons.

If you feel at home on the range in gingham, fringes and Cuban heels then this is the season to get in touch with your inner trouble-shooter and walk along your high street like an extra from High Noon.

No cowgirl worth her silver spurs will be without some serious denim separates this year. The jean jacket, drainpipe strides (with turn-ups big enough to hide a horse in) and pony skin waistcoat are all good places to start with this eternally fashionable look.

Forget every awful synthetic fibre shirt and white plastic cowboy boot you have seen sported by medallion-hung Greek waiters or country and western barn dancers for this is pure vogue.

If you don't want to look like a brushed-up version of Eddie Grundy from The Archers then be sure to keep the big country and not the Black Country in mind when constructing your rig.

Country music is currently enjoying yet another renaissance with the likes of Joe Ely, Dwight Yoakam and the Dixie Chicks adding much needed elan to a world where Garth Brookes has done for jeans what Bet Lynch did for blondes in earrings.

Look out for beaded trims, feathered jewellery and sequinned trimmed stetsons and they may just be for teens but Tammy Girl has the best versions, in this season's fuchsia pink, and at pocket money prices there's no excuse not to join the posse.

For although there are plenty of rhinestones for the space cowgirls of 2000 and beyond, this isn't about fish tail frills and the sequinned ante bellum gowns of Dolly and her like.

But sharp-shooting looks for angels of the highway and those following a dream on the frontiers of fashion or closer to home in the wild, wild West Midlands.


This page - Far right, satin frill skirt (pounds 30) and satin frill top (pounds 25) from Debenhams. Below, straw Stetson (pounds 15) from Debenhams. Left, cargo zip shorts (pounds 25) and knitted drawstring vest (pounds 30) from Debenhams.

This page - Main and above, western styling by Guess Jeans. Top, Van Peterson 925 silver pebble necklace (pounds 35) and bracelet (pounds 35) from Debenhams. Centre, Denise Van Outen wears a denim corset (pounds 30), jeans (pounds 45), stetson (pounds 22) and belt (pounds 7) from Disco 2000 range at Top Shop.
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Author:Rice, Carole Ann
Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Mar 15, 2000
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