The Calgary Stampede is an iconic tradition in our fair city and for 10 glorious days we get some relief from business attire and get to to dress like cowboys and cowgirls while we enjoy pancake breakfasts, beer gardens, and hay bale decor.
However, the 10 days of Stampede are not an excuse to wear jeans, a T-shirt and your flip flops! If our employers are generous enough to let us wear western wear to the office, then we should put some effort into dressing appropriately. Today, as I walked the streets of the downtown over the lunch hour, I witnessed the good and the bad of Stampede dressing. Most of the good outfits were worn by men. One very good-looking young man on the C-train had on a Wranglers western shirt, Wrangler jeans, a straw hat and some well-worn cowboy boots. I am sure lots of women would want to take that cowboy home!
On the other hand, it seems that, like business attire, women have far more options so they also have far more opportunities to make mistakes. Today I saw shorts, mini skirts and dresses worn with jean jackets, but showing much too much leg for the office. I also saw tube dresses worn with small plaid short-sleeved blouses thrown over as a “shirt jacket”. Stampede gives us an exemption from modesty in our offices? I don’t believe so. I also saw women in jeans, ordinary T-shirts and weekend sandals. Sorry, but that is not western. That is just laziness. If I was their employer, I would inform them that Stampede week is not an excuse to dress sloppy all week. You either dress in proper western gear or you wear your business attire, period.
If you are unsure what to wear, here are some ideas that will get you well on your way to dressing western smart for the office:
Ideas for Ladies
- Western embroidered shirt, jeans, belt with large belt buckle (see picture on the right), and cowboy boots.
- Same with a denim skirt, no shorter than 1″ above the knee when standing.
- White button down shirt or T-shirt with a denim vest or jacket, and a coloured denim jean (think white or a pastel colour), and boots.
- Floral or lace dress, again no shorter than 1″ above the knee when standing, with a denim vest or jacket, and cowboy boot.
- A tan-coloured cowboy boot will be the most versatile. Jeans may be tucked into the boot ONLY if they are skinny jeans. A traditional boot cut jean is preferred with the pant leg over top of the boot. Other types of boots don’t usually don’t look western enough unless they have a stacked heel.
- White T-shirt, floral or lace skirt , denim jacket or vest, cowboy boots
- Lace or floral blouse, jeans, cowboy boots
- For more ideas, visit my Pinterest board.
Ideas for Guys
And guys, I am not completely letting you off the hook. That “sort of” plaid shirt in your closet is not the same as a Western shirt. Western shirts have details that differentiate themselves from regular shirts. If you are unsure, visit a western store and have a look at their offerings. And every man in Calgary should own a pair of Wrangler jeans, a Western belt with large belt buckle, a cowboy hat, and a decent pair of cowboy boots! Trust me, the hat and the boots will make you look sexier and taller.
Lastly, most of us have western clothes in our closets from years of Stampede dressing. However, some of you may need to update things a bit. I discarded a fleece jacket a couple of years ago from the 90’s that looked dated. Today I saw some long frumpy skirts and jackets that were long overdue to be replaced. There are lots of stores in Calgary, including the ever affordable Walmart, that offer trendy western wear at this time of year. And, if your budget is tight, try a second-hand store like Value Village or a consignment store. Or better yet, wait until the Stampede is over and then buy great items at half the price for next year!
Happy Stampeding everyone!
Janise Bachler, The Closet Diva
Since 2006, Janise Bachler, The Closet Diva, has been helping men & women learn how to dress and to refine their personal image in a way that brings them personal and professional success. Janise works with clients on closet editing, personal shopping and styling services. Janise is also a professional speaker, author of the book, Closet Rescue, available on Amazon, and a co-host on the talk show, Kim’s Kitchen, seen on Shaw Cable. Janise Bachler has appeared on Global TV, CityTV, and has been featured in the Calgary Herald