There used to be a stigma when I first moved to Calgary 15 years ago that locals avoid the Calgary Stampede at all costs! I didn’t blame them either. The whole level of debauchery and chauvinistic behaviour along with an abundance of Country music (which even with much effort, is not my favourite) was just not aligned with my vibe at that time. Fast forward to 3 years ago, I attempted the festival once again and low and behold… I freaking had a blast! I’m not sure if it all had to do with the changes to the festival itself, or just that I evolved over the years, or maybe a combination of both. All I know is that it has become a runway for fun and flirty fashions without the stereotypical farmer inspired looks that used to dominate the fairway. Oh and they play more than Country and Western music now too!
What I love about dressing for the Stampede, is that anything goes! You could honestly put on a kaftan that you would wear around the streets of Mykonos and pair it with some cowboy boots and voila! You’ve got yourself a perfect outfit. It’s really all about how you accessorize your looks and quite frankly, the biggest style mistake I see every year is that people get gimmicky with the whole western style thing. My best advice, is to stay true to your personal style and embellish with boots, belts and fun jewelry. The look will come together automatically and will still stay true to the initial Stampede brand without looking like a costume.
The weather plays a huge role in what I wear. I always plan for a dress for the parties. The tents can get pretty sweaty and the ventilation, even though outdoors, can be surprisingly awful (and yes, they usually smell like vomit). But once the sun goes down and the party’s over and everyone is staggering to the streets to grab an Uber or a cab; or your listening to your band play at the outdoor stage, it can be extremely chilly. That’s why investing in a nice denim jacket makes all the sense in the world. They go with everything and the denim ties into the theme really well. I attempted to do a leather jacket once and it looked amazing, but thunder storms rolled in unexpectedly and it got ruined. If you do decide to do a leather look, be sure to stay on top of the forecast so as not to be bawling over a destroyed favourite.
Another thing to be conscious of is whether or not you want to do the rides on the fair grounds. Although white photographs so well, rides get extremely dirty and will scuff and stain everything they come in contact with so be careful about your colour choices for the lower half of your body. On the days that I bring my son to the festival, I opt for a pair of jeans or denim shorts (not daisy dukes). I’ve burnt my ass way too many times in shorty shorts and nothing is grosser than sharing swass with the person who sat on the ride right before you. Yuck! Wearing jeans just ensures that I can focus on the fun and not maintaining my look. Also, if you’re planning on riding the mechanical bull, please, please, pleeeeaaase don’t wear a skirt or dress! I have seen so many girls humiliated while riding that thing, so think ahead and know what garments will best suit your activities. Once again, accessories are everything here. Just because I’m wearing jeans and out with my family does not mean that I phone in my style. My cowboy boots are my friend and I usually go with a tank and kimono.
I really like wood and vintage looking jewelry to tie everything together. I love minimalism for accessories, but I don’t really hold back for Stampede. Layering and mixing textures is a lot of fun and looks great.
Like any festival, it’s all about freedom of expression and really being playful with your looks. The most important thing is that you stay true to yourself and don’t embellish beyond your comfort zone. Confidence is the best thing you can wear at any time so don’t do anything that will take that away from you! So whether you’re joining us at the Calgary Stampede or partying at your local festivals this year, make the best of what makes YOU shine and make the pavement your runway!