Stampede fashion 101

June 29, 2015
Stampede gear

If you’ve heard about Calgary, you probably already know about the infamous Calgary Stampede. You know, “The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth”?! … and the only tourist attraction Calgarians can come up with off the top of their heads.

For the unsure, basically the whole city turns into a western-themed party for 10 days. Sunrise to sundown – including at work.

Stampede Jewelery

A peek at my Stampede jewellery collection I’ve accumulated over the years.

You can’t be lame and act like you’re too cool, you have to show as least mild support. Business networking (and notably other kinds of networking) are on hyperdrive during Stampede. Companies shell out major cash to entertain employees and clients alike. You better jump on the bandwagon and look like you appreciate it, your boss is watching!

“But, what am I supposed to wear?”, you may wonder.

Take it from a born-and-raised Calgarian, appropriate Stampede attire is a narrow road to navigate. Don’t stumble over that fine line (pun intended).

I know, you feel awkward, costumes aren’t your thang. However, please take note, you don’t have to get that costumey! That’s what separates the clueless from the real “Calgarians”.

It doesn’t matter that you’ve never been to a rodeo, touched a horse or even seen a farm from a distance. No one cares, just get your enthusiatic-face on!

Without further ado, let’s do-si-do through our Stampede fashion foundations.

  1. At work, you still gotta look like your day job is your only job.

    Not too sexy, boys and girls.

  2. At play, go for it.

    There’s always someone that’ll outdo you at a Stampede party.

  3. On the grounds, think summer festival.

    Wear whatever you want to for fun under the beating sun (and lots of walking through crowds) … and possibly an hour or two of torrential rain. No heels…maybe wedges.


For those who just want to get by, it’s all in the accessories. Just pick one and add jeans.

There’s a magical formula to take yourself to expert level though:
Jean something + prairie print something + brown leather something.

Accessories: Cowboy hat, western-style button-up shirt, boots, big-buckled belt, western tie, leather fringe purse, bandana around your neck or tied around your arm (maybe your company even made ones with your corporate logo – support the shameless plugging), etc. jean anything.

* Thankfully, plaid/gingham shirts are still in style and pass as “westerny” so you probably already have one kicking around!


Kick it up a notch, perhaps jeans/jean bottoms + 3 accessories. Yes, a full “Canadian tuxedo” is acceptable (jean everything). Fantasize about something you’d wear to a present day country music awards show – or pageant for that matter. Have fun 🙂

* Please note, this is one of the only times bedazzling is acceptable, feel free to do so if you choose. It may come out ironically cool.

Think dressed-up country-formal style, which is not the same look as “I’m riding a bull in the rodeo – RIGHT NOW!!!”. So no chaps, you’ll look like a stripper. Again, don’t need to get too costumey.


Nostalgic, whimsical, dancing-through-the-fields fashion.

To the extreme: Take inspiration from “Little House on the Prairie” pioneering times. Ex: Long dresses, floofy blouses, suspenders, other time-warping period pieces. Maybe even harajuku it with a western kick…but keep it a little more country and less lolita.

For the modern style-conscious: Summer music festival fresh with a touch of western flair. Ex. Flowey summer dresses with brown leather accessories, paisley/floral/prairie prints, mesh/crocheted pieces, flower crowns and headbands etc.

The Stampede also celebrates Canada’s native culture and history. Show your appreciation for aboriginal art with some of the beautiful authentic hand-made accessories you’ll find. Perhaps some dream catcher or feather earrings or maybe a beaded/gemstone ring or necklace.

Important note: Be cognizant of cultural sensitivities and appropriation. It’s western wear, not “cowboys and indians” role-play.

I’m explicitly laying this out because it may seem obvious to most, but I  think most offenders don’t mean to offend. The Stampede is about welcoming the world to a fun, western-themed party that celebrates Canada’s history, diversity, multi-culturalism and inclusivity.

Confused? No fake guns etc. weapons and no cultural stereotypes that may come-off even slightly off-colour like you’re mocking other cultures.

Cultural stereotyping never comes off clever, steer clear so you don’t look like a cringeworthy fool.

FYI: This also includes rice hats. “What?!”, you say.

Yes, I’ve seen this with my own eyes. I guess there’s no better time to bring one out (ever)!

Hope you find some of my Stampede go-tos in the gallery helpful!

Feel free to share your Stampede-ing style tips in the comments below.

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