Stampede Style is a Mini Vacation From Life

Credits: Photo - Anonymous, Styling - Sarah G. Schmidt, Location - Inglewood Barn


Since the world in on fire and we may have not yet reached rock bottom, isn’t it nice that for a few days our city comes together over communal joy and we can focus on that? It’s gorgeous respite, right? Thanks to the Calgary Stampede locals and visitors alike can come here and have a good time.

While Stampede takes over this city many get into the unofficial dress code: western city slickers. True, I’m a sucker for western clothes. I sincerely appreciate the confluence of utility and the specific aesthetic - and for the most part tailored clothes - that comes out of the backs of our closets and charges out of retail stores all over our city. Cue the leather (or pleather), tassels, and boots.

Sure, some people think it’s silly that people of all walks of life get dressed up no matter our line of work or if we grew up on farm. I think it’s sweet, not silly, to not join in on the fun. The detractors are a bit like being that dude we’ve all met at a Halloween party that gets a “My name is” sticker and puts “God” in the blank space and says he dressed up. Buddy, we get it, you have zero chill and likely just as little fun in your life that you need to mock the rest of us with your giant ego. I say if you’re going to show up, one should actually participate. Instead of being a Debbie Downer why not try and go all in?

To boot, Stampede style is fun. There’s something for everyone: animal prints. Checkers. Plaid. Rhinestones. Denim. Pearl buttons. Hat-a-palooza. Satin appliqués. There’s so much joy and life in it all. Come to think of it, Stampede style is a bit like dress up: no matter whom you are or what you do, you can pick your poison – mine is most certainly the appliqués variety – and join in on the fun.

Ever notice that you have a lot of fun at a costume or theme party? I think dressing for Stampede is a bit of the same. For a short while, you can be a character, or a version of yourself that you want to explore. You get to try-before-you-buy a certain sartorial look. At the end of the night if it’s not for you, you simply take it off.

Dressing can be self-exploration and a mini escapism adventure. I am reminded of the euphemism, “You’ll never know unless you try.” I totally feel that way about clothes. I don’t feel that way about meth. I digress.

Clothes are not hard drugs, they’re clothes. They may give you a bit of a high but there’s no danger of it getting into your blood stream. One of the best things about Stampede style is that you likely already have it in your closet. There’s no need to buy a whole gaggle of new things. You’d be surprised what reads western with a boot or a hat or a denim jacket plopped on.

Throw a denim jacket over the ubiquitous slip dress? Yup, Stampede worthy.

Cowboy hat with your favourite T shirt tucked into jeans? Why hello, John Wayne.

Change out your favourite heels for cowboy boots and you’re looking more and more like Dolly Parton.

When in doubt, double down on your favourite two or more denim pieces and you’re wearing the famous Canadian Tuxedo. Way to go, Mike.

Whatever you do, have a bit of fun because it’s supposed to be fun. Take a teeny tiny break from whatever is going on in your life and let yourself have a happy style snack. A couple years ago I wrote about the same, sweet sentiment that washes over our city:

Style aside, part of the joy of Stampede, to me, is that it is a bit of a blissful escape from the everyday without having to leave my city. For 10 crazy days the city welcomes anyone who is game to have a good time and get down. It’s that country-meet-city hospitality that we became famous for. These days it’s rather rare to have something to celebrate and enjoy just because. That’s what makes me proud to be a part of the community. For those naysayers that say it brings out the worst in some people, I simply retort, “yes, some.” My thinking is that the small fraction people who want to do naughty things are going to do naughty things. The rest of us are golly gosh darn happy to help host the greatest outdoor show on earth.

Oh how the world has spiralled since then. But Stampede remains remarkably consistent: no flood or gnarly politics can stop us from putting on the greatest show on earth. Yahoo!