Woman of the West

Dawning of Cowboy Christmas

Summer is warm temperatures, long days filled with beaming sunlight, cattle turned out to pasture, and rodeos in full swing; the season otherwise known as Cowboy Christmas.

Cowboy Christmas is the height of rodeo season, with July being packed with the most exciting rodeos that every buckle-chasing cowboy and cowgirl are trying to make. 

For the western fashion enthusiasts like myself, Cowboy Christmas is the time to shine; breaking out those edgy get-ups that have been stowed away all winter long awaiting their time to be worn at rodeos and western events. 

Attending rodeos is a fashion show in itself; with men and women of all ages dressed to the “nines” is their trendiest attire. From rhinestones to fringe, sequins to bolo ties— nothing is off-limits. 

Photo by Zoe Kendall Photography

My favourite rodeo to attend as a western fashion enthusiast is the Calgary Stampede. The exhibition takes place over ten days, and I catch at least one rodeo performance over the duration. I always leave the house with lots of time to get to the grandstand early, just so I can people-watch and see all of the amazing pieces that patrons and contestants have on. I always look for the wives of rodeo competitors, as their fashion is bar-none, and they never fail to have the most unique and jaw-dropping, pieced together outfits on. 

Another great attraction at the Calgary Stampede, is the trade show and western art show inside of the BMO Centre. Here, hundreds of vendors and makers have booths set up with all types of goodies available to purchase; and did I mention you can also smell the aroma of freshly dipped caramel apples when you walk through the doors? 

Rodeo fashion has gained tremendous popularity over the past decade, evolving from the generic plaid button-up shirt, straw hat, wrangler jeans, and cowboy boots. The rodeo style now has influence from many different areas, and has impacting ripples from runway, workwear, prints, and materials such as suede and leather. 

In the early 20th century, women in the western industry were making their mark, which coined the term, ‘Sweethearts of the Rodeo’. In that era, women were rarely seen wearing trousers; rather, they would often be clothed in ankle-length skirts and dresses gussied up with a cowboy hat and jewelry to accessorize. Many of those garments are still western fashion staples today.

If you plan on venturing to a rodeo or two during Cowboy Christmas this year, be sure to dress to impress, because I can guarantee that this year’s fashion will be like no other. 

Photos and story by Chelsey Becker