State Fair of Texas

Big Tex: 70 years of Questionable Fashion Choices

The State Fair of Texas revealed Big Tex's 2022 outfit designed by Dickies.
The State Fair of Texas revealed Big Tex's 2022 outfit designed by Dickies. Courtesy of the State Fair of Texas
Big Tex is a fashionista, but he is a one-brand kind of guy. For the last 20 years, Dickies has been outfitting the 55-foot-tall animatronic cowboy that greets visitors at the State Fair of Texas.
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Dickies advertises the new design of Big Tex's shirt.
Courtesy of the State Fair of Texas

This year's outfit offers a Big Tex classic color combination: dark blue with red point collar and red placket with white buttons. "Dickies" is embroidered on the collar points. A Western V-shaped white trim adorns the front of the shirt, which has white stars within. The cuffs are red with white trim, lined by more stars. A horseshoe "D" is emblazoned on the back of the shirt. Tex will also be getting a new pair of jeans, modeled after Dickies' X-Series jeans.

Big Tex likes new outfits but gets new duds only every few years. Texas weather definitely takes a toll on his apparel. The new outfit was installed onto the cowboy, and on Friday morning his massive body was lifted by crane back into Big Tex Circle on the fairground. Big Tex will be ready with his "Howdy, Folks!" welcome for the State Fair of Texas' opening day on Friday, Sept. 30.

Looking back over the years, the almost 70-year-old Big Tex has gone through some iconic fashion phases. His clothing's color palette hasn't strayed much past the patriotic colors, but he did go through a serious yellow phase from 2008 to 2010.

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Big Tex actually came from the North Pole.
Courtesy of the State Fair of Texas

Origin story

Big Tex turns 70 on Oct. 4. According to the State Fair of Texas, the large cowboy was reincarnated in the early 1950s from a Santa Claus structure in Kerens, Texas. He was built in 1949 and heralded as the world's tallest Santa Claus. Envisioning the future fair icon, the State Fair of Texas bought Santa's skeletal structure from the Kerens Chamber of Commerce for $750, and Dallas artist Jack Bridges retrofitted him as the cowboy we know and love.

Big Tex went through some evolution over the years. He was engineered to make noise in 1953, giving him "speech." His ability to wave was engineered in 1997, and in 2000, he could move his head. Big Tex sadly had some setbacks in his lifetime. He suffered from a massively damaging electrical fire in 2012 right as he turned 60 years old.

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The State Fair of Texas in 1986.
Courtesy of the State Fair of Texas

The 1980s

Big Tex played his fashion safe in the 1980s and early 1990s, sticking mostly with a red shirt, with blue and white detailing. And stars, of course.

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Tex's neutral base shirt is a departure from the red shirts of the 1980s. His all dark denim matching top and bottom brings to mind the term "Canadian tuxedo."
Courtesy of the State Fair of Texas

The 1990s

Getting more experimental and sophisticated, Big Tex explored other base colors for his shirts in the 1990s. Those jeans, though, just don't look realistic, although his belt buckle stands out like a Texan buckle should.

Tex made a bold move in 1994 with an all-dark denim shirt and pant combination that could have been an all-in-one denim jumpsuit. Bad choice.

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Dickies' Texan State Flag shirt in 2003.
Courtesy of the State Fair of Texas

Early 2000s

With the early aughts comes the brand sophistication of Dickies to dress our big man. Each couple of years Tex gets a fresh look, starting with this bold Texas state flag shirt look, which is stellar.

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Big Tex Dickies' 2005 shirting.
Courtesy of the State Fair of Texas
Big Tex rode the flag shirt look until 2005 when he was changed into a more intricate Western look, incorporating Dickies' yellow to detail the breast of the shirt with curved darts. The cuffs carried the red and the sleeves sported a cerulean blue with white stars of various sizes. This look was bright and cheery and spot-on.

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A shift into yellow in 2008.
Courtesy of the State Fair of Texas
In 2008, Big Tex did a seismic shift into a yellow-based shirt with cerulean blue yolk and red neck tie. It was bright and fun, but not unlike a corndog covered in mustard. Big Tex stayed with the yellow look until 2010.
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On left: The 2011 look for Big Tex that went down in flames. Right: A rebuilt body and a new look in 2014.
Courtesy of the State Fair of Texas
In 2011, Tex got a red shirt again with a blue chest and white shoulder and yoke with red stars. This is the shirt that went up in flames in the October 2012 fire. This look was very similar to the one unveiled in 2022. The looks that followed the rebuilding of Big Tex have all stayed conservative in their dark blue, red and white designs. The 2014 look was a variation on the former shirt from 2011, but included pockets and a dark blue shirt color. In 2014, Big Tex's jeans had a strong look with a rebuilt, beefier body.

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Big Tex is a fashion icon.
Courtesy of the State Fair of Texas
The 2017 shirting followed the same thread as the years prior. The 2017 design is almost a repeat of the 2014 shirt, except for losing the pocket design to give the Dickies logo more prime real estate on the chest.

Thankfully, in 2019 Texans got a fresh design with a bright red shirt with a blue-and-white-striped shoulder, white curved darting on the chest, red collar with white stars and a dark blue Western tie with silver tips. This was his best look by far, and it held on until the latest look was unveiled last week, which will probably be his mainstay for the next few years. 
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