Sean Beckwith: Botox cowboys and people watching in Aspen |

Sean Beckwith: Botox cowboys and people watching in Aspen

People watching, like skiing or hiking, is an Aspen pastime to the point that readers voted it their favorite thing about Food & Wine. From the now middle-aged former frat boys clad in only pastels to foreigners in summer suits, loafers and no socks, this is the best time of year to gawk at the overdressed.

Yes, the shorts with the little lobsters or mermaids or golfers on them are kind of on fire, but they only come in two sizes: John Stockton and “You better wear tighty whities with these because someone is going to catch an eyeful if you wear boxers.”

If I had my choice and didn’t care about representing my place of work, I would’ve worn basketball shorts, flip flops and a polo to every swanky event. People come to town ready to dress like they’re attending the Kentucky Derby, fancy hats optional. I still see plenty of fedoras. I thought those died when Matt Damon spent the majority of “The Adjustment Bureau” trying to find the right ratio of magic doors to magic hat. (At least I think so, because I left the theater when I realized the movie was more “Be Like Mike” than “Inception.” You’d think enchanted clothes would be as toxic as body-switching comedies, but actors keep biting.)

My favorite sighting coincidentally happened during Food & Wine a few years back. I was on the Hunter Creek bus and there was an excessively drunk lady sitting with a guy holding a tiny dog who looked like Rip Taylor. As I was waiting for him to throw confetti, the two had this exchange:

“Are they running the gondola today?” the drunken lady asked.

“They’re pouring Champagne. Of course they’re running the gondola,” Rip Taylor said as if Silver Queen was powered by bubbly and not actual energy.

Then there are the ladies who dress up like they’re going to a night club in Miami, but it’s winter in Aspen with ice everywhere. If you disregard the freezing temperatures because pneumonia has never hurt anyone, they’re still wearing massive heels. I know some women grew up in high heels — I watched my friend’s small daughter hit whiffle balls off a tee in Minnie Mouse heels the other night — but I’ve worn actual boots and still fallen.

On the opposite side of that spectrum are the overdressed. I’m not talking about the guy who went into Patagonia and bought every feasible layer possible. No, I’m talking about the clown who dressed like an actual cowboy. The last time I wore a cowboy outfit in public was when I was 6 or 7. It was terrible. All my friends were playing soccer and I had to watch from the sidelines because you can’t play in cowboy boots.

You know what you also can’t do in cowboy boots and gloves with tassels on them as a 60- or 70-year-old man? Earn my respect/keep your dignity. I don’t know if you got bad advice from the salesperson at Kemo Sabe or were just high from the smell of finished leather, but you look like you’re about to break out a number from “Oklahoma!” If that deer knew it was going to be draped on you post-death, it probably would’ve committed suicide at a young age.

I’m not a fashion expert whatsoever. I read an issue of GQ once and learned how to properly roll up long-shirt sleeves. (You fold your sleeve to the length you want it then roll from the fold as opposed to rolling all the way up from the cuff.) However, something tells me men who actually roll up their sleeves to do manual labor don’t use this technique.

I’m not sure why tourists opt to dress like they’re auditioning for “Real Housewives (or Husbands) of Aspen,” but someone is giving them terrible direction. Are all these people insulated from the general public to the extent that they think normal people tie sweaters around their neck?

What happened to the normal tourist outfit? You have to go to Snowmass to find the dad with the fanny pack or a solid pair of mom jeans. When my family went to Italy, my dad wore a hidden travel wallet. In Aspen A.D. (after “Dumb and Dumber”) it’s a competition to see who can best embrace stereotypes that movie showcased.

“And the winner for the person with the least self-awareness and most leather goes to Charles from New York, who proved you can dress in leather chaps and not have your sexuality questioned. And he’s accompanied by his wife, Tina, whose outfit is made out of baby seals. Give the crowd a wave and a smile. Excuse me, I’m told that Tina can’t physically smile due to recent Botox injections, but we’re told she’s smiling on the inside.”

The real winners, though? Aspen locals. Not only is the people watching pristine, but it has an added effect of keeping residents grounded because nothing screams “out of touch” like a New York cowboy come to Aspen to rustle up some tuna tartare and a glass of rose.

Sean Beckwith is a copy editor at The Aspen Times. Reach him at

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