Big Tex is all dressed up and knows where to go

DALLAS (DMN) -- At precisely 6:52 a.m., when a crew of 16 men pulled away the tarp spread over midfield at the Cotton Bowl, one troubling thought immediately came to mind.

Somewhere, Big Tex was probably running around in his underwear.

The cowboy's shirt and jeans lay across on the turf like a pupil's back-to-school outfit, previewing the new look that will greet fans at this year's State Fair of Texas.

"We made a few tweaks," said Karissa Schuler, the fair's public relations director. "He wasn't fully to where we wanted him."

Tuesday's early-morning unveiling revealed a few of those tweaks: Big Tex's new shirt is blue rather than last year's white, which too easily picked up grease and grime.

Besides: "It's going to be after Labor Day," said Allyson Aynesworth, a fair spokeswoman. "We don't want a fashion faux pas."

Tex's new shirt, made from 134 yards of awning fabric that will withstand Texas sun and rain, features a Texas flag-inspired design with two white stars just below the shoulders against a red background. That design dovetails with this year's "Deep in the Heart of Texans" State Fair theme promoting Texas pride.

Along with Big Tex's new outfit, the "Texification" campaign will include Texas-themed signs, new Lone Star-theme floats and music in the nightly Starlight Parade and a 30-foot-by-50-foot state flag.

The new look makes Tex look less flashy and more rugged.

"We thought it was a little more working guy," said Jill O'Leary, director of technical development for Fort Worth-based Dickies, Big Tex's official outfitter.

The cut of Tex's jib is different too. Dickies' designers altered the dimensions of his shirt to allow for the new movements he'll unveil this year in his continuing resurrection after the original icon's fiery ruin in 2012.

Because the rebuilding of the newly designed Tex was conducted in secrecy, designers and engineers were unable to pre-fit the big dummy before his debut. When he finally took his place, certain flaws became clear.

"Last year we only got to see the boots by themselves," said Dina Zavala, lead scenic artist for Boerne's SRO Productions, which oversaw the rebuilding project. "Up close they looked great. But then …"

Here was the problem: With his jeans tucked into those boots, Tex looked too short, his legs disappearing into his replica Luccheses like celery sticks into party dip. Combined with his jeans' low inseam, he looked a little squatty.

His new jeans are made from 80 yards of fire-resistant denim, with a higher inseam to make him seem taller.

"We tweaked his fit a little bit," said Julene Franklin, Dickies' director of pattern engineering. "They're not going to sit quite as low this year."

SRO designers have spent the last month or so shortening and thinning out Big Tex's boots.

"We think these proportions will be more pleasing," said SRO president Eddy Snell. "It's a little nerdy to tuck your jeans in the boots. But if you're gonna do it, you might as well make it look good."


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