Cowgirl Couture: The Place Where Western Wear Never Goes Out of Style

Photos: Lucas Scarfone Photography.

I’m standing in Lammles Western Wear & Tack with the folks from GMC, sponsor of the Calgary Stampede and Rangeland Derby for more than 30 years, desperately trying to find a pair of jeans from the dozens of styles, cuts and silhouettes available.

I’m torn: do I go for the traditional double dark navy straight leg or the low-rise faded out boot cut with embroidered back pockets?

Secretly, I want the ones with the most bling. Those are the ones I see the barrel racers wearing and, although I’m a born and bred city gal, there’s a little part of me that wants to get my inner cowgirl on. Not only will they satisfy my yearning to look like I just got off my quarter horse, but they’ll also do double duty as evening wear.  

The place is packed with other “city slickers” trying to find just the right look so they don’t stand out as weekend wannabes.

Western wear may come and go on the runways of Paris and Milan, but it’s a tradition that never goes out of style in Calgary — especially during Stampede, the annual 10-day rodeo and celebration of western culture. Days can be long, starting with a pancake breakfast at six a.m. and ending with “two stepping” — a type of western dance — at midnight at Nashville North so I need something that is also comfortable.

Since its origin in 1912, the Stampede has allowed Calgarians and visitors alike to don their cowboy chic and connect with the romance of the past. Ranchers and cowboys are a part of Alberta’s history and the western outfit is a way of fitting in.

You see it on everyone from the executive in the corporate office sporting a blue cotton twill to the chuckwagon drivers in their heavy seven-ounce Wranglers.

But back to my dilemma, I decide to step out of my comfort zone and go for the bling. Now I just need to find the right shirt, belt, and, of course, a hat.

Now will that be a “shady brady,” the distressed raffia straw hat made popular by Julia Roberts in Runaway Bride, or a traditional 10 gallon?