When Visiting Montana
Try Blending In—Nothing’s So Obvious as Trying Too Hard
BY JUSTIN CASE
I get a kick out of people visiting Montana this time of year who try to look western. Not to be unkind, but they stand out like a sore thumb. And so if I may address this phenomenon, while welcoming visitors with open arms (our livelihood depends on them), here are a few fashion tips that will help folks blend in while visiting.
First, don’t wear a cowboy hat unless you’re Dwight Yokum. Nobody in Montana wears a cowboy hat (not even Dwight Yokum) except a select few who can pull it off when they put one on, usually for professional purposes (certain real estate agents, rodeo cowboys, sexy models on photo shoots). If you just flew in from Cleveland though with the wife and kids, chances are you’re not in that select group, and if you really wanted to look like a local, you’d wear a ball cap, by far the hat of choice, but there’s not much fun in that, is there? Hard to play Hop Along Cassidy wearing a John Deere cap.
And while we’re at it, in historical photos from the local area taken during the cowboy days, cowboy hats are nowhere to be found. Seems they were never popular here.
Multi-colored Aspen jackets with faux tribal designs pretty much mark visitors as posers too (if you don’t know the style, rent Dumb and Dumber, and wait for the Colorado scene). We see these once in a while, usually worn by affluent women with frosted blond hair, lots of thick pasty make up, breast implants, collagen in their puffy little lips that for some reason they think is attractive, and expensive perfume degraded by the fact that they wear way too much, since you can smell them coming at a hundred yards—coincidentally the distance at which they still look attractive.
I know I’m being bad. I’ll even step back a bit from that comment because women can get away with a lot when it comes to fashion and spice things up nicely when they do (va va va voom), but in Montana we gotta’ draw the line somewhere, and that line falls a section or two this side of collagen lips (sorry, Meg), and we offer the advice that the more you look like you just rolled out of bed and flung on your worn out Carhartts, the more you seem to belong here.
Then there are those fly fishing fashion statements that say, Look at me—I’m rich, I fish, and I just bought my first fly rod. I’m really not down on these folks though, just wanna poke fun, the way you do when someone comes out of the restroom with toilet tissue stuck to their heel. Some thing’s just can’t go unsaid.
Cars give it away too. Not a lot of Montanans driving Lamborghini Diablos around town, and of course what makes it really obvious is people driving Lamborghi-ni Diablos with collagen lips and Aspen jackets—not exactly a when in Rome strategy for spring and summer travel.
Again, being bad, but certain types of behavior require chastisement, kind of like speaking truth to power, except in this case it’s saying what everybody’s thinking but won’t because someone might get offen-ded. We get around that though by addressing this message to a non politically sacrosanct class, those who can afford trips to Montana, collagen, and a little ridicule. Were we poking fun at, say, (insert politically sacrosanct group), the offense would be met by a tsunami of self righteous howls from some so-called human rights network and pleas for the ACLU to step in.
People are people though, worthy of respect, and we prefer to uphold that principle, as long as they don’t cross the line, and so we’re actually providing a service here in the following way. Ever have one of those moments when you look at an old photo and think why didn’t somebody stop me? Well, somebody’s stopping you now. Take a good look in the mirror handsome (or doll face) before you get all gussied up and head downtown like it’s Friday afternoon on Rodeo Drive. That just doesn’t fly here. People dress for the weather, not each other. Doesn’t mean you’re Idi Amin, but for godsakes woman leave half the perfume in the bottle before you belly up to the bar.
One more observation—the all black thing (usually jeans and tee) that immediately identifies a visitor as having arrived within 48 hours from LA. What’s up with that?
If people visiting find all of this too depressing, having paid good money for suitcases full of non western western apparel, take heart, and a challenge. Making no fashion statement at all, if your ego can bear it (being content with who you are) is a fashion statement with a quality all its own. A Montana thing.