But wait… what if there was another way?
There is! You can use the clothes that you wear in regular life during Stampede and look fashionable, be comfortable (western wear rarely fits well….), and still rock the Stampede spirit! Many people who work downtown are given the option to dress western instead of business casual (not that there is much difference in Calgary) but either run out of options in two days or wear clothing that should have found its way to the dumpster many years ago.
Here are a few of my favorite ways to dress western using my regular clothes in different combinations. I LOVE to mix and match!
The Peasant Blouse: Most women have one of these around, and if you don’t you might want to pick one up. This is an easy, inexpensive and versatile wardrobe basic. I wear mine as a swim suit cover up too, and with jeans and sweaters all year. As long as the proportions are correct, any figure can rock it and – BONUS – it works great for Stampede. Go with the classic blue denim jeans on the bottom, or pair it with a denim skirt. The key is to accessorize with the right pieces. I put mine with a brown leather belt, and I mixed patterns (Yippee!) and threw on a polka dot scarf and called it a rodeo. I added some silver “Mexican” jewelery, and a saddle bag for extra punch. More accessories = more kitch, and kitch is key to a good western outfit. Go BIG or go home!
The Flowy Sundress: The key to rocking a sun dress for Stampede is to wear it with boots. You don’t need cowboy boots (though if you have them whip ‘em out!). You can wear a shorter slouchy boot like I am here, or you can wear your riding boots from fall and winter. You’ll have toasty feet, but you’ll still be cool cause your dress is breezy. Throw on a rustic looking belt and you’re away to the barrel races. Amp it up another notch with a denim jacket (another year-round wardrobe staple!). Easy as apple pie, and twice as sweet.
The Paisley Scarf: Paisley is a great classic pattern for a scarf, and though it has a touch of western personality, it can still be worn year round without being mistaken for a costume. Find one at a Goodwill store if you don’t have one, and look for one with more than two colours in it to avoid being too rockabilly (unless that’s your thing….). I’ve paired mine with a white tank blouse and navy skirt, but you can go with a T-shirt and jeans too for an even more laid back look. I’ll wear this scarf all winter long too – so I know that the $4.99 I spent on it will be worth it!
When scouring your closet for pieces to mix and match, look for muted colour palettes with a vintage feeling. I prefer a more subtle tone for western wear, instead of a glitzy sparkly look. Think 90′s, comfy, subdued. Mix your leathers and suedes, try out classic patterns like polka dots and paisley, and find new uses for old clothes. It’s all about how you put it together. Share your own Stampede creations with me on Facebook – I can’t wait to see what you come up with! Happy Stampede Calgary!07.11.10
I don’t believe in spending a fortune on jewelry (I don’t believe in spending a fortune on anything, actually) because you don’t have to! The cheaper varieties last as long as you need them too. I get bored of most accessories after a year or two, with the exception of a few pieces, so I like to purchase some inexpensive things each season to keep it interesting. Many clothing retailers have started carrying jewelry over the last few years, and besides being relatively cost-effective, the jewelry that you’ll find in the store goes with that season’s selection of clothing in terms of colour and style – which totally simplifies your life, and simple is always good.
I often like to shop in the mall for several other reasons, one of the main ones being time! I just love that I can find most things I need under one roof so I can be really efficient – which is a necessity for me. Luckily,Â this seasons bejeweled accessories can be found in many stores at your local mall. For some great deals on summer jewelry be sure to check out The Bay, The Gap, Zellers (yes, Zellers) and H&M. Don’t be afraid of going into a store that you don’t normally shop in. Even though the clothing might not be your taste, often the accessories are more varied in style. For example,Â Alfred Sung does a line of fashion and jewelry for Zellers that is completely affordable and totally cute. Department stores are wising up about fashion these days and realizing that there is a market for inexpensive designer clothing, so you can find some really great stuff at discountÂ stores. While I’m on the subject, check out Joe Fresh Style at Superstore too. If you don’t already know about it, you’re going to love it! They have the best kid’s clothes too.
Right now I’m also loving Reitmans selection of necklaces and cocktail rings because of the wide selection of bold blue and silver pieces. Turquoise is one of my favorite stones, partly because the fake stuff looks almost as nice as the real thing. I often pair a neutral outfit, like a navy shift dress, with a turquoise bracelet and earrings. It makes everything pop, and you can switch out the accessories for something more neutral if you want to another day. You don’t have to match your jewelry perfectly or wear items together that come in a set. Try to think in terms of a colour palate or feeling that you want to create and mix and match with other pieces. The result will be much more fashion forward, and more individual, than if you wear all the same set of jewelry.
Another great store for easy casual jewelry is Aldo Accessories. IÂ love this little Annex to Aldo Shoes mainly because of the HUGE selection. Most things under $20 make it easy to stock up on pieces that make your outfit pop. I particularly love the bracelets they have in right stock now. You can find some great knock-off charm bracelets in various plated metals, stacked wooden bangles, beaded strands in beachy colours, and tough looking leather with studs and rivets. Can’t decide what your style is? Get one of each! This season multi-stranded and miss-matched is the way to go. The idea is that you look like you didn’t try very hard. Ha! We all know being stylish isn’t as easy as it looks! One piece of advice with the cheap jewelry is to avoid wearing plated metal bracelets in the heat. Unless you want green wrists and peeling bracelets that is! When hitting the wading pool or walking around in the heat, stick to wood, plastic or solid gold. Aldo has a great selection of earrings right now too. Be it dangly or stud, make sure to top off your outfit with earrings. Studs are really in style right now, so no worries all you moms with small babes! You don’t have to subject your ear lobes to the grabbing hands of an infant.
Here is where I got some of my inspiration. Remember, you can always find knock-offs at the mall. As always, have fun, be creative and enjoy your summer with some bling!
Waxing poetical aside, I also love the new revival of summer fashion! Kids and moms out in full bloom.
My one piece of advice for summer fashion is donâ€™t be afraid of color! I generally find myself drawn to the oatmeals, greys and other comfy neutrals of fall and winter. But come summer, I shed the cozy knits and soft colors for the vibrant prints and shades of summer flowers. I might be a bit premature in announcing the arrival of summer in Calgary, but the fashion shows have already moved on to fall so I think Iâ€™m allowed to jump ahead a bit.
This summer, as the recession shows signs of ending, hemlines are rising! The hems of skirts this season, though not as mini as they could be, have risen from last year and youâ€™ll see finger tip skimming skirts parading in the parks and on the avenues of Calgaryâ€™s hippest districts. Donâ€™t fear ladies of less-than-perfect legs (um, the majority!) leggings are also still in style. My recommendation is to pick up a couple of super light full length leggings in grey and black to wear under a shorter dress. Though some stores are still selling the cropped legging, I think that full length is more current and more grown-up. Donâ€™t worry if the leggings donâ€™t â€œmatchâ€ the colors in the dress, its more fashion forward to stick a neutral under a printed dress than to match one shade in the print.
If short dresses with or without leggings arenâ€™t your thing, the maxi dress (ankle skimming length) is still out in full force in shops. I donâ€™t recommend this style of dress for the very petite, but if you are average height or taller, go for it! My one warning is that a slightly too-short maxi-dress comes across as a bit strange, so make sure it sits right at the ankle bone with shoes on. I think maxiâ€™s look great with flats, even flip-flop style shoes, because the longer length has a bit of formality to it regardless of the fabric. If you wear it with heels in the day time, make sure you keep the look casual with simple bohemian style jewelry, like wooden hoops and bangles. To dress it up at night, try a long multi-strand necklace and crocheted short-sleeved cardigan with bold earrings and a statement bracelet. Your friends at the bbq won’t stop gushing about how stylish you look, and you’ll still be super comfy!
For the classic dresser, a below the knee dress will always be the most flattering length of dress for pretty much everyone. Though it isnâ€™t on trend right now, this length of dress will always be in style because itâ€™s universally flattering. Being on trend isnâ€™t everything, especially if you arenâ€™t prepared to shop every season. So if you want your wardrobe to give you the most bang for your buck stick to classic, not trendy, summer dresses. A-line, below the knee, with classic patterns like polka dots, stripes or a nice bright solid will never go out of style. A great dress looks like you could have bought it 20 years ago, 10 years ago, or yesterday. If you canâ€™t tell what decade it came from, you can wear it for years to come.
Here are some of my inspirational outfits for this post. Although the items in the picture are quite pricey, you can always find knock-offs in the malls – I always do! Like I said I love color in summer, but I can’t resist a little black and white too…