By Carlos Ferrand
When you walk around the 64th annual San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo, you will notice there is no shortage of boots and hats.
At the Wall Street Western booth, Cissy Yeates explains how important boots are to her style.
“I center my wardrobe around what boots I’m going to wear,” she said.
A majority of boots she had on display were high-dollar footwear. Brands like Old Gringo, Lucchese and Rocketbuster can garnish a price tag as high as $2,000 a pair.
An image of the Virgin of Guadalupe was stitched onto the shins of a pair of Rocketbusters, priced at $2,095.
“These are not work boots,” Yeates said.
It is all about the Justin boots, Miss Rodeo Texas Rosanna Pace said.
Pace was crowned the 53rd Miss Rodeo Texas in June and holds the title for a year.
Pace wore all white, except for a black vest decorated with rhinestone horseshoes and a “I heart Texas” patch.
A gold and silver figure of the state of Texas shone on the front of her pristine cowboy hat.
Pace said she still likes to wear boots and a lot of bling when she is not dressed up for special Miss Rodeo Texas appearances.
Despite the amount of stylish boots found stomping the rodeo grounds, not everybody wore boots for fashion.
Buck Reams said he wears boots for a more functional reason, “protection for your legs while you’re riding.”
Boots protect wearers against high brush, cactus and mesquite, and even snake bites, he said.
No cowboy is complete without a hat, and no rodeo is complete without its cowboys.
Pat Durant’s cowboy hat was custom made in Montana.
“It’s whatever floats your boat,” he said of styles and shapes.
Regardless of style, a cowboy hat is a must for any rodeo, he said. “If you go to a baseball game, you wear a ball cap. Rodeo is America’s sport, so you wear a cowboy hat,” Durant said.
Rick Phemister of Heads or Tails Hats said, “The weather makes a difference in the type of hat you might wear.”
Phemister has been customizing hats for more than 30 years and has participated in this rodeo for 15 years. “In the summer, you want to wear straw to keep your head cool, and in the winter you’ll want to wear felt,” he said.
Different styles and colors change a person’s look and individuality, Phemister said.
Choosing a hat is only the first step; then it needs to be a perfect fit.
Since she was 12, Sugar Reim has been shaping hats, the last 28 years at this rodeo for Circle R Ranch Wear.
It all depends on the size of a person’s face and body shape, Reim said.
Using steam to soften the material, Reim applies gentle but firm pressure to shape a hat.
The shape of the hat is everything in how one appears to others, she said.
“We can make them like you or love you, we can make them ugly or beautiful, we can make them laugh or make them cry — all with a shape of the hat,” Reim said, as her fingers worked a brim.
Durant said hats serve a function just as boots do. “Keeps the sun out of your eyes, and on days like this, keeps the rain off my face,” he said.
Basic cowboy hats can cost anywhere from $20 to the Stetson 1000X Diamante at $5,000.
No matter the cost or purpose, Yeates knows the secret.
“It’s a Texas thing,” she said.