For Texans, it’s all about the boots

First Family on stage at Black Tie Ball and Boots Ball
President Bush and first lady Laura Bush, with daughters Jenna, second from left, and Barbara, appear on stage at the Black Tie and Boots Ball in Washington on Wednesday night.Rick Wilking / Reuters
/ Source: The Associated Press

First lady Laura Bush chose high fashion for the Black Tie and Boots Ball, sporting a raspberry silk taffeta Carolina Herrera ensemble with a Western touch — a full skirt and fitted bodice resembling a button-down shirt.

But for many of President Bush’s Texas supporters, the ball was more about the boots — and less about the couture.

The Texas State Society’s gala Wednesday was arguably the most unconventional bash of inaugural week — at least in fashion terms. It’s the only party in town where the 10,000 guests are not just encouraged but expected to pair down-home duds like Stetson hats and Tony Lamas kicks with tuxedos and evening gowns.

Sarah Furlow, 19, needed just the right footwear — in color and style — to go with the brown, low-cut bead-and-lace slip dress from Cache that she already had hanging in her closet.

The Texas Tech University fashion design major found just the pair — on the feet of a friend while they were at the movies. “I asked her if I could borrow them and she took them off in the movie theater and walked out bare foot,” Furlow said, still laughing at the episode.

'My other ones were all scuffed up'
Lorian Sessions of San Antonio donned a new pair of black kangaroo boots, decorated with a white star and embroidery, with an aqua-colored mink wrap she bought on sale at Saks. The 35-year-old wore it over a simple black floor-length gown.

“It was $35. I bought it 10 years ago two sizes too big. I figured I’d either let it out or take it in when I finally wore it. I had to take it in, thank God! I refused to put a thousand-dollar dress with a pair of boots!” she said.

Her husband, Mark, said the special part of his ensemble was not the custom-made tuxedo he got from a tailor in Texas. It was his lizard skin boots. “I got mine when the president’s father was inaugurated in 1989,” the 47-year-old said, hiking up his tuxedo cuff to show them off.

Sue Brannon, chairwoman of the Midland County Republican Party in Texas, took her boots with her when she shopped for her clingy and sparkly red floor-length frock.

“These are red snake. My husband bought them for me 15 years ago. These are my dancing boots. They’re Tony Lamas. I love them so much” said Brannon, 67, who also added to her outfit a rhinestone tiara, a matching brooch that spelled Bush and the Texas flag on a necklace.

Her son and escort for the evening, Reid Brannon, sported a red, white and blue bow tie with his black formal jacket and crisp blue jeans. He bought new Nocona boots for the occasion. “My other ones were all scuffed up,” he said.

Roses were imprinted on Sally Ruschhaupt’s new pair of brownish-colored boots.

“I just went shopping after church on Sunday and loved them,” the 50-year-old Plano, Texas, resident said. She paired her new kicks with a brown lace off-the-shoulder blouse and a shin-length black ruffled skirt that was short enough to show off her footwear.

A few dissenters
Still, not everyone wore boots.

Brenda Anderson, 52, of Houston, opted for a red felt-like cowboy hat trimmed in rhinestones to match her Claire’s Collection gown, the strapless one with the slight train and the same one her daughter wore when she was in the Miss Texas beauty pageant.

“Boots wouldn’t show but a hat would,” Anderson said. She chose pumps instead.