Style Matters is a citizen of the west for one evening

Last Monday found Style Matters pulling on a pair of sequin and beaded blue cowboy boots in preparation for the annual Citizen of the West dinner, the traditional kick-off of the National Western Stock Show.

The dinner capped off quite the week for the city of Denver and the state of Colorado. First, we had none of the snow and negative double digit lows that the rest of the country suffered through. Second, the Broncos won the AFC Playoff game against the San Diego Chargers. Finally, oil and gas magnate Frederic Hamilton, this year’s Citizen of the West, put the Denver Art Museum on the map with a gift of 22 Impressionist paintings worth more than $100 million. The paintings read like a greatest hits of the period.

Event volunteer Audra McNicolas was one of the fashion stand-outs of the evening in a Rockin P Ranch dress that fit her to a T.

What can $100 million get you these days beside 22 paintings by the likes of Van Gogh, Cezanne and Renoir? Two NFL star quarterbacks — Drew Brees, quarterback for the New Orleans Saints and Green Bay QB Aaron Rodgers together pull down approximately the same $100 million (Brees — $51 million; Rodgers — $49 million according to Forbes online). Oh well. Players come and go; Monet is forever.

Volunteer Carla Holst was a vision in a brown leather studded vest, matching trumpet style skirt and the coolest turquoise bracelet Style Matters has ever seen.

The announcement of the gift was nicely timed together with the dinner honoring Hamilton, a deserving honoree personifying the spirit and the determination of the western settlers to whom this award is dedicated. He is a well-known pioneer in the oil and gas business and a philanthropist and advocate for the arts. Fundraising proceeds from the dinner will go to 74 scholarships and from the looks of the crowd, it could be a record year.

Marilyn Coors rocks a triple strand of chunky turquoise beads that livened up her black ensemble.

The cocktail hour was ablaze with fancy outfits and great accessories. Yes, most of the crowd wore traditional stock show clothing, but they upped it a few notches to sophisticated western wear, not cowboy attire.

Christy McGraw, daughter of honoree Frederic Hamilton and a New York City resident, was the epitome of East Coast cowboy chic. McGraw’s hat flashed tiny lights all around the rim of her black cowboy hat powered by batteries. When Style Matters asked what happens when the batteries wear out, hubby Ted McGraw stepped up to show me what was in his pocket – batteries.

Scattered throughout the crowd were several dinner guests sporting bright yellow bandanas. If you were lucky enough to get one, it means you were an out-of-town friend of Fred’s. The bandanas were decorated with the logo of the Hamilton’s shooting plantation in Georgia. Ah, to have your own logo…

McGraw sported gorgeous turquoise and cream colored cowboy boots.

Fashion trends — definitely the combo of brown and turquoise. Many women chose these colors for the event, a nice change from black.

Also, longer jackets fitted and nipped in at the waist flattered many different figure types. Cowboy boots were de rigueur, especially those with floral prints, two tone leather colors and intricate contrast stitching.

And what’s with all the silver squash blossom jewelry around necks, waists and wrists? Squash blossom is a term applied to necklaces made by the Navajo, Zuni and Hopi Indians. However, like many historical explanations that turn out to be false, the squash blossom necklace is not a squash blossom. Some say it’s a young pomegranate originally brought to the new world by the Spanish. Whatever, these pieces of jewelry are very precious. Style Matters spoke with several women who wore spectacular squash blossom necklaces handed down to them by their mothers.

Seen among the oil derrick replica centerpieces: Former U.S. secretary of state James Baker, Peter and Marilyn Coors, Larry Mizel, Norm Brownstein, Arlene and Barry Hirschfeld, Neal Groff and former U.S. Sen. Alan K. Simpson, a Citizen of the West honoree himself in 1990. Also gubernatorial hopeful Mike Kopp and his lovely wife Shannon, Dick and Marcia Robinson, Eddie Robinson, KK and premiere politico Floyd Ciruli, former National Western Stock show prez Pat Grant, CU prez Bruce Benson and the ever helpful Marcy Benson, Pat Robinson, Diane and Charlie Gallagher, and about 900-plus other cowboys and cow gals.

Judie Schwartz, AKA Style Matters, is the co-author of two best-selling books on the best places to shop in Colorado. Called “A Fashion-Lover’s Guide to the Best Shopping in Denver and Beyond,” the books are available at Schwartz presents image seminars to corporations on the importance of a business casual wardrobe and entertains conventioneers with talks on how to look great on a budget. She is also a wardrobe consultant. Schwartz has one husband, three children, no pets and small closets. She can be reached at:



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See the Jan. 17 print edition for full photo coverage.

The most alluring western wear outfit was the one worn by Mrs. Bill Edwards. She paired a long, sexy lace skirt with a fitted black turtleneck. Around her waist was one of the prettiest squash blossom turquoise belts of the evening.

Event co-chair Carolyn Schaefer Wollard chose a brown and turquoise poncho draped over a long brown skirt that perfectly matched her chocolate brown cowboy boots. Elegance, thy name is Shaefer Wollard.

Lori DeVoe, a high school biology teacher in Weld County, showed off her brown Como No outerwear jacket embroidered with colorful appliques. She complimented it with a turquoise blouse. Lori’s message: Teachers can rock fashion.
Photos by Jill Mott/The Colorado Statesman

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