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Off Limits

He's gone country

Calling Alan Jackson!

If ever clothes made the man, it's apparent in the makeover of new Denver City Council representative-at-large Doug Linkhart.

We mean no disrespect. We're fond of the councilman known as "Leftie Linkhart," as fellow makeover victim Charlie Brown (Off Limits, December 11) swears the other council reps refer to the former state legislator. But his suits and ties? Bo-o-oring, with a capital B. No style, no flair, no panache. He could just as easily be selling real estate or pushing insurance as organizing the city. But put a cowboy hat on that man, and he out-Charlie Browns Charlie Brown, the man who has vowed to get other councilmembers dressing more Western.

We never thought we'd say it, but Linkhart looks hot! We'd jump the man behind Jumpstart, the city's new economic push. Suddenly that smile seems oh, so slyly Marlboro Man. He looks like "a man of vision" out of Lonesome Dove, not just another glad-handing politician. And the jeans certainly show off his 33-inch waist and other, ahem, assets a helluva lot better than a suit coat and slacks. Hell, we're thinking he'd even get some wolf whistles on the rodeo circuit!

That wouldn't surprise Steve Weil, the third-generation owner of Rockmount Ranch Wear.Founded in the '40s by Jack A. Weil, who first put snap buttons on Western shirts and still comes to work every day at the age of 102, Rockmount recently added a retail store. That's where Steve Weil engineered Linkhart's transformation from city slicker to range rider, a businessman who's singlehandedly trying to "make the world safe for Western wear."

"You don't have to dress up like Howdy Doody to be part of the Western lifestyle," Weil says. "It's for people who have the personal security of who they are and what kind of image they wish to project. I learned this a long time ago from GQ: The beauty of Western fashion is that it can be the whole deal or just an accent."

In jeans, fiery yellow boots, buttery suede fringe jacket and vintage purple snap-down with floral embroidery, Linkhart went whole hog. And he wore it all well -- no surprise, really, because Linkhart's originally from Tucson, where, he likes to report, people are given a full week off from work during the city's world-famous rodeo.

Linkhart's certainly not the first celeb to get the Rockmount treatment. The LoDo headquarters is full of pictures of stars such as Bruce Springsteen wearing Rockmount garb. Locally, the boys of Davis, Graham & Stubbs are regulars, and John Hickenlooper got his belts from Weil (no hats, though, since Hick's "not a hat kind of guy," according to Weil) before he even considered running for mayor. And once he did, Weil had some thoughts about that, too.

"I told the mayor he needs to dress in a way that reflects Denver," says Weil. "This is also true for the councilmen. We are not J Crew. This is not the East Coast. We have our own identity. The beauty of the Western ethos is that it appeals to both the people from here and people moving here. We lost our identity there for a while, particularly during the early '80s. People are celebrating it now."

Lest those people celebrate it a little too heartily, Weil offers these words of wisdom:

1. You're always safe with classics. Good Western wear is classic. It does not bounce around like a Ping-Pong ball from season to season.

2. For public times, don't wear the whole getup at once. Think accents, not Howdy Doody.

3. Western belts are good anytime. Coordinate them with your outfit rather than always wearing black.

Linkhart listened closely to Weil, just as he would to any constituent. "I almost bought a few things," he says. "If I'd had any money, I probably would have. I've got to go back. I've got some Western wear, but I don't wear it that often. I liked that blue shirt, and I like boots, except that they hurt. I'd rather be barefoot."

But he'll be back in the saddle at the January 5 city council meeting, where all the representatives are supposed to dress Western in honor of the National Western Stock Show, which begins that Friday. "As part of the economic forums I held, one of the recommendations was to get people to wear Western wear during the Stock Show," Linkhart says. "So we probably will encourage that as part of the Stock Show being here. Anything we can do to enhance the value of an activity like that to help our economy is good. I don't think Denver's as much of a cowtown as it used to be, but a little more Western wear can't hurt."

Spoken like a true cowboy. You'd better watch out, Charlie Brown.

Meanwhile, any ladies whose hearts were set aflutter over Linkhart's makeover can settle down: He's happily married to Dorothy Norbie, aide to councilwoman Kathleen MacKenzie. But that doesn't mean you can't get in the councilman's pants. Here in the Off Limits office, we have a pair of 33-34s worn by ol' Leftie for his photo shoot. Want them? Send us a compelling reason why you need his jeans, and they could be yours. And while you're setting the keyboard on fire, Off Limits is taking nominations for our next makeover victim. Send any and all suggestions to makeover@westword.com.

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