What to Wear to the Calgary Stampede

What to Wear to the Calgary Stampede
What to Wear to the Calgary Stampede
Stampede Style

What to Wear to the Calgary Stampede

A crash course on Stampede style with Calgary fashion blogger Justine Celina Maguire.

Are you planning to visit the Calgary Stampede this year, but aren’t sure what to wear? As a born and raised Alberta girl and lover of western-inspired fashion, I’m absolutely thrilled to share my best Stampede style tips with you!

If you don’t live near Calgary, let me fill you in — the Calgary Stampede is a 10 day outdoor festival (a.k.a. The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth), celebrating the culture of the wild, wild west. I personally believe there’s an opportunity to dress really well at the Calgary Stampede, while embracing the roots of traditional western attire in a way that aligns with your personal style!

Growing up on the Alberta prairies, I’ve seen my fair share of western wear over the years and it has undoubtedly shaped my fashion preferences — my audience knows how passionate I am about fully embracing the unique sartorial opportunities the Stampede provides! I’m all about looking the part and dressing your best for any occasion, the Calgary Stampede included. These wild 10 days are packed full of endless parties, fanfare, live entertainment, and world-class culinary experiences — and each year, I curate a few western inspired outfits with a modern, bohemian sensibility to carry me though in style. If you’re looking for some fresh, practical Stampede fashion ideas for both personal and professional settings (with a handful of western style tips for men sprinkled in as well!), I’ve got you covered! Come along to rolling, sunlit fields and gorgeous badlands near my childhood home in rural Alberta as I break down a few of my favourite western-influenced, bohemian looks piece-by-piece, share my to-go styling tips and favourite retailers to help you hone your Stampede style.

Style essentials for the Calgary Stampede from Justine Celina Maguire

Style essentials for the Calgary Stampede

Make a flowy summer dress the base of your Stampede style.

Stampede Style Essential #1: A Versatile Base

Take a look at some of my FASHION content over the years, and you’ll see many flowy dresses and tops gracing the pages of my blog — what can I say, they’re a major staple for me, no matter the season! That said, I’m willing to bet that the majority of women reading this article can go into their closet and pull out a sweet, little summer dress. The best part about Stampede style is that you don’t need to purchase an entirely new outfit — it’s all about shopping your closet and finding great staple pieces you can style up in different ways! Whenever I’m putting together an outfit, I always start with an ‘anchor’ — the piece(s) that I build the rest of the look around. For three of my favourite Stampede outfits, I began with my favourite flowy, easy-to-wear dresses as my anchor piece!

A simple maxi dress from Forever 21 is great way to get Stampede style on a budget.

A simple maxi dress from Forever 21 is great way to get Stampede style on a budget.

This Alice + Olivia dress is comfortable way to take in the sights and sounds of the Stampede.

This Alice + Olivia dress is comfortable way to take in the sights and sounds of the Stampede.

A belt is a great complement to your flowy dress

A belt is a great complement to your base dress

Western-inspired footwear always has a place in my wardrobe.

Western-inspired footwear always has a place in my wardrobe.

Stampede Style Essential #2: Western Boots

If you’re looking for one quintessential item to incorporate into your Stampede style, make it a pair of western-inspired boots. Now, that doesn’t mean you have to go the route of traditional cowboy boots — although, you absolutely can! My inner bohemian loves western-inspired footwear and it’s always had a place in my wardrobe, regardless of whether or not it’s particularly on-trend. But, it just so happens that western-inspired boots are everywhere right now — which makes finding your perfect pair easier than ever! 

There are three different western-inspired boot styles I opt for during the Stampede, depending on the rest of my outfit — over-the-knee, traditional cowboy (a great option for both men and women) and western-inspired ankle boots. Bonus: each of these styles feature a comfortable, wear-all-day low heel!

Short dresses are ideal for showing off tall cowboy-inspired boots.

Short dresses are ideal for showing off tall cowboy-inspired boots.

Low-heel ankle boots are ultra-comfortable to wear to the Calgary Stampede.

Low-heel ankle boots are ultra-comfortable to wear to the Calgary Stampede.

Shorter dresses are ideal for showing off taller, OTK cowboy-inspired boots — like these Jeffrey Campbell stunners, which have been with me for about 8 years. I also love these vintage, fringed, beaded I cowboy boots I snagged at an antique shop in Airdrie, which I typically pair up with longer dresses, jumpsuits or denim. Antique and thrift shops here in Calgary are brimming with western-inspired treasures and should not be overlooked — whether you’re a vintage lover or simply on a Stampede style budget! Finally, my tan, western-inspired ankle boots are a major staple, year-round (I own them in nearly every colour!). Although this exact style is no longer available at Aldo, they bring it back with slight variations each season. If you’re looking for an ultra-practical, ultra-comfortable boot that you can wear to the Calgary Stampede and beyond, I can’t recommend a casual, low-heel ankle boot with some western flair enough!

Flat brimmed or floppy hats will help you look the part at the Calgary Stampede.

Flat brimmed or floppy hats will help you look the part at the Calgary Stampede.

The Smithbilt White Hat is a Calgary icon

The Smithbilt White Hat is a Calgary icon

The 7x White Hat is measured to fit at the Smithbilt headquarters in Inglewood

The 7x White Hat is measured to fit at the Smithbilt headquarters in Inglewood

Stampede Style Essential #3: Western Hats

You’ll notice I’m wearing a variety of hats in these looks — and while you’ll see a lot of traditional cowboy hats in Calgary during the Stampede, they’re definitely not required! I’m all about working with what you have — and when styled with a western sensibility, flat brimmed hats, floppy hats and even straw hats will allow you to look the part without shelling out for the real deal. Western hats also shield your face from our harsh summer sun (or rain!).

If you’re in the market for quintessentially Calgarian experience, be sure to stop into Smithbilt Hats for the finest, custom-made western hats in all the land — including Calgary’s iconic White Hat. Originally debuted in the Stampede Parade of 1947, receiving a Smithbilt White Hat is recognized as an international honour and remains a steadfast symbol of Calgary hospitality. Fast forward to present day and you can purchase your very own White Hat in a variety of styles, materials and price-points — year-round! I’m wearing the 7x White Felt version, which I was expertly measured and fit for in less than 15 minutes.

Denim is a no-brainer when it comes to Stampede style.

Caption: Denim is a no-brainer when it comes to Stampede style.

Untucked (or your shirt is more of a tunic length), that’s also perfectly acceptable!

Layer your outfit with a denim jacket.

Layer your outfit with a denim jacket.

Stampede Style Essential #4: Denim

Denim is a no-brainer when it comes to Stampede style -- and is also massively on-trend at the moment! There are many ways to incorporate this versatile fabric into any western-inspired ensemble, but these are a few of my favourite.

If you’re a jeans guy or gal, I’d suggest a pair of light-to-medium wash denim (distressing optional!). These can absolutely be jeans you already own, or if you prefer, you can purchase a classic, premium pair of Wranglers or Levis for the ultimate in cowboy-chic. If you’re a belt lover, now is a great time to experiment with western style belt buckles (try Lammles Western Wear or your local thrift store!). Or, if you prefer to go untucked (or your shirt is more of a tunic length), that’s also perfectly acceptable!

Denim jackets also make fantastic, versatile layering pieces and are something I’m sure many of us have in our wardrobes. I opted for a slightly acid washed jacket to add a western-inspired layer overtop of my flowy LWD. It will also keep you warm while you party-hop into the evening or watch the fireworks!

 A saddle style bag is on trend and keeps both hands free to enjoy the Calgary Stampede.

 A saddle style bag is on trend and keeps both hands free to enjoy the Calgary Stampede.

Add a feminine pop to your Western inspired outfit with a colourful bag.

Add a feminine pop to your Western inspired outfit with a colourful bag.

Stampede Style Essential #5: A Versatile Bag

When I think of traditional western style it evokes memories of rich layers and textures. For me, this typically means incorporating some kind of suede, fringe or saddle element into my Stampede bag selections. Each of these 3 bags are fantastic options depending on how much storage you need!

Suede is synonymous with western style and fringe adds a playful touch to any look.

Suede is synonymous with western style and fringe adds a playful touch to any look.

Opt for a larger bag if you require more room for all your festival essentials — like this gorgeous suede, fringed bag I picked up in Chicago a few years ago. Suede is synonymous with western style and I love the movement and playful touch that fringe adds to any look!

A saddle style, cross-body bag is a great option to keep all your essentials safely tucked away while you experience The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth. Both of these blush pink beauties add a feminine pop of on-trend colour, while allowing you to have access to both of your hands — which is a must whether you’re at a Stampede breakfast, taking in the sights and sounds of the grounds, or enjoying a free outdoor concert (trust me, clutches are an absolute no-go for the Stampede!).

Over the past couple of years, woven, natural material bags have been spotted everywhere — on the arms of your favourite bloggers, celebrities and fashionistas alike. The natural tones and textures of these summery it-bags lend themselves especially well to Stampede styling, don’t you think? I’m all about channeling inspiration from my surroundings into my personal style and love the free-spirited touch these bags add to any prairie-inspired ensemble!

Go bold with accessories at the Calgary Stampede.

Go bold with accessories at the Calgary Stampede.

Stampede Style Essential #6: Festival Friendly Accessories

Once you have the essentials sorted, it’s time to have some fun with your Stampede look and add unique elements that showcase your personality. Since the Stampede is a festival, it’s an ideal opportunity to go more bold and daring with accessories!

Layer vintage turquoise with a more traditional lariat-style necklace.

Layer vintage turquoise with a more traditional lariat-style necklace.

Cuff bracelets and vintage turquoise rings make for great Stampede style.

Cuff bracelets and vintage turquoise rings make for great Stampede style.

Jewellery

The Calgary Stampede is the perfect excuse to dust off all your vintage silver or turquoise, as well as anything fringed, beaded or western-inspired that doesn’t get enough wear-time in your day-to-day wardrobe. My turquoise necklace hails from a flea market in Arizona — and I actually and I layered it with a longer, lariat-style necklace to create additional texture. I love to layer and stack jewellery in the summertime and I think the Stampede is one of the rare occasions when more is actually more! My cuff, bracelets and turquoise ring are all vintage as well.

Tie a vintage scarf around the strap or handle of your bag for some retro style.

Tie a vintage scarf around the strap or handle of your bag for some retro style.

Channel your inner cowboy by adding scarves and shawls to your outfit.

Channel your inner cowboy by adding scarves and shawls to your outfit.

Scarves & Handkercheifs

Do you love vintage scarves? Always wanted to don a handkerchief like an outlaw? To integrate a bit of a retro sensibility into your look, tie a vintage scarf around the strap or handle of your bag. I often accessorize with scarves, both on my neck and on my bag — it’s one of my favourite ways to tie all the colours I’m wearing together while infusing my signature style into an outfit. Having a scarf on hand for outdoor festivals is just as functional as it is stylish — you can channel your inner cowboy by folding it bandana-style to cover your nose and mouth to protect your lungs from dust (this comes in especially hand for live shows!), use it as a shawl to help shield your shoulders from the sun if you forgot sunscreen (another Stampede must!), or as a head scarf if hats simply aren’t your thing.

Hexagonal, rose-tinted sunnies are the perfect finishing touch to this bohemian look.

Hexagonal, rose-tinted sunnies are the perfect finishing touch to this bohemian look.

Create an air of mystery with a great pair of sunnies.

Create an air of mystery with a great pair of sunnies.

Sunglasses

If you prefer to inject an air of mystery into your personal style, why not experiment with your shades and try something new? I’d been waiting for an occasion to wear these hexagonal, rose-tinted sunnies and they were the perfect finishing touch for this modern bohemian look. Sunglasses are a Stampede staple — they offer protection from the sun and conceal tired eyes the morning after, so you can dust off your boots, hit a free pancake breakfast and get ready to do it all over again!

 

Are you planning to visit the Calgary Stampede or partake in various Stampede festivities around the city? If you are, I hope this post gave you some helpful, modern outfit ideas and inspired you to create a western-inspired look to take you from Stampede breakfasts, through your workday, to the grounds, to the after party in style. Wishing you all a fun (and safe) 10 days of Stampeding!

By
Justine Celina Maguire

Justine Celina Maguire is a Calgary-based entrepreneur, content creator, and blogger. Justine runs the Canadian lifestyle blog JustineCelina.com, where she’s passionate about creating in every area of her life and sharing it.