Wyoming Deputy of 40 Years Retires After His Department Bans Western Fashion Accessories from Officer Uniforms

western fashion accessoriesCowboy hats and boots are probably considered some of the most beloved western fashion accessories in the United States. Yet apparently few people love them more than a former Wyoming deputy who quit his job after a new dress code banned the items.

That’s right: after the new Sublette County Sheriff took office in January, he ordered his staff to conform to stricter dress code standards. “We are one team with a unified purpose,” Sheriff Stephen Haskell told his local Casper Star-Tribune. Therefore, officers all need to look the same in a county described as no bigger than Connecticut by a department spokesperson who talked to the Los Angeles Times.

But that didn’t sit well with Deputy Gene Bryson, who had been with the department for 28 years and had worked in law enforcement for 40 years total. Bryson regularly wore a brown cowboy hat, brown cowboy boots, and a leather vest in the summer or a wool one in the winter, worn over his uniform. The new uniform dictates that officers can only wear black trousers, a tan shirt, black boots and (optionally) a black baseball cap.

Bryson admitted to reporters that the uniform change was “kind of the reason” why he decided to retire. His western clothes and accessories were his style, and something he felt represented deputies in Wyoming. In fact, when he first began in law enforcement, Bryson said that his first department in Lusk County didn’t even have uniforms. “We wore blue jeans, cowboy boots, western shirt, put a badge on our western shirt and went to work,” he said to KCWY 13 in Wyoming.

Considering that the department’s explanation was primarily about the safety of officers, their reasons are understandable. This news story does highlight the need to decide when western style hats, boots, and other clothing is appropriate (or when it isn’t).

Western fashion accessories are fairly easy to incorporate into other outfits, however. Cowboy hats, some of which can cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars, are considered perfectly acceptable in certain parts of the country as daily wear. Western style boots are perfect for casual outfits, though some types can be worn with formal wear if it’s not too showy (and permitted). Anyone who owns a pair, though, has to know how to take care of these boots. Finished leather, which has a shine to it, needs to be polished regularly. Even unfinished leather should be dusted regularly to keep it clean.

When are western fashion accessories and clothes appropriate or inappropriate to wear out? Tell us what you think in the comments below.

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