By Ryan Sankey
"Western" as a style is an interesting creature. It borrows from a piece of history, created from fact and romance, and melts it into a tapestry of icons and symbols. Ropes, spurs, horses, flame shirts (just kidding!), longhorn steers... the list goes on and on. From home d?cor to the designer runways, western has enjoys an elevated status in the world of fashion in recent years. Through this blaze of glory there is one symbol of the American West that has been shrouded in the dusty pinks and dreadful purples of ugly 1980s artwork: the great American Indian. This season, that oversight is laid to rest. Ever so slowly, Indian-themed clothing and accessories are making their way into designers' collections.
Let us be very clear; the trend is Indian-themed, NOT Indian-inspired! Squash blossom necklaces and strips of beadwork are not in style! This is not the time to dig through your grandmother's jewelry box and pilfer her southwest collection. While all of that will, no doubt, roll around back into fashion in the future, it is not at the moment.
Using the Indian as an element of style is the safest way to work this new trend into your fall wardrobe; chief's heads, Indian maidens, the classic warrior horseback, etc. Keep the colors and fits contained to the current styles so the look is fresh and not simply recycled. The graphics must be bold and, without question, native. To make it work your item must either be classy enough to be artworthy or completely kitsch -- anything in between is going to be bad, bad, bad and I will not be held responsible for you wearing a sweatshirt with a depiction of the "end of the trail" against a pinky-orange sunset! It is not timeless, it is not kitsch (at least not in this part of the country) and it is not stylish. Wear it to sleep in if you are that in love, but don't call it fashion.
We are so blessed to live in a part of the country where we are exposed to the cultures of Native Americans and the time has come where the fashion world has decided to take note of its influence on the history of the West. Follow their lead and celebrate the fullness of western culture!
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