How to look like an authentic cowboy/cowgirl for the Calgary Stampede’s 100th birthday
Alberta Country Vacation’s ranch gear expert Ginny Donahue has some wardrobe tips for urban wannabe cowgirls/cowboys
by Neil Bousquet APR
Photos courtesy of Alberta Country Vacation Association; Ginny Donahue, Sierra West Cabins and Ranch Vacations; Carson Ganci and Anchor D Ranch.
“As one would expect, real Alberta cowboys and cowgirls dress a little different - from the top of their head to the tip of their boots,“ says Ginny Donahue, head cowgirl at Sierra West Cabins and Ranch Vacations located near highways 22 and 3 in Alberta’s Southwest.
“What you wear is your ‘signature’ for the type of person you are. Most signature pieces are the hats, buckles, boots, spurs and chinks/chaps. Jeans are pretty much just jeans for the cowboys but jeans to cowgirls are the style and bling on the pockets.”
Randy & Ginny Donahue,owners Sierrra West Cabins & Ranch Vacations
Adds Donahue, “Shirts - well they can range in color and pattern for all. Hats can be flat top, high crown, flat brim, Gus style, and more. Hat bands are so personal and range from conchos, leather, beaded, to fabric and simulated barbed wire. Most belts for the cowgirls are leather and consist of a fair bit of bling. For the cowboys - well, his too can be not only a leather - but a tooled leather, horse hair braiding or hitching and sometimes a few concho's thrown in.”
“Boots - they come in all shapes, colors and styles. Nowadays you can pretty much get whatever color you want whether it be the whole boot or just the boot tops. Some cowboys/cowgirls go for the simplicity and look and some want more stitching, patterned tops, bright colors and then there's the choice of round toes, square toes, pointed toes or the normal. Then to top that off - you can have a choice of a riding heal or normal heal that you can ride in. Along with that comes the differences in soles - full leather bottom (better for riding) crepe - a good walking sole but not very good for putting your foot in the stirrup and also the normal sole with a bit of grip but not dangerous to the horse rider. Now comes the choices of whether it be a shorter top, normal top or the tall buckaroo style. Buckaroo is becoming more and more fashionable and the cowboys/cowgirls wear them with their jeans tucked in.”
“Scarves - come in different patterns, colors & fabrics - most popular is silk (for warmth). They can be tied with a knot or a variety of scarf slides. The slickers – This full body coat is usually made of an oil skin for repelling water and also Mother Nature's other elements.”
“Chinks & Chaps - They can have leather tooling, fringes, conchos, ties, buckles, brands, etc. on them but all are made of leather and are used for protection on the legs from bush riding and to help keep the leg dry (at least for a short while) in a freak rain storm. Buckles - these range from big to small from bling to rodeo events. If the cowboy/cowgirl are rodeo competitors, buckles can signify bragging rights. Spurs – made from various metals up to and including silver. Can have one or two rowels with a variety from blunt to spiked. Spur straps again are very personal and can come as plain leather, tooled leather, hair on hide and more. Usually have a fair bit of bling, conchos, and studs.”
In addition to looking good, there’s also a practical side to wearing proper cowboy/cowgirl gear.
Hat - to protect your head not only from the sun but also the other elements. Tipping your head allows you to keep the wind out of your face. In a rainstorm, it's nice to have the brim so that the water drips off the back of your hat and it doesn't go down your neck.
Scarf - to protect your neck from sunburn and also keep it warm in the cold breezes.
Shirt - to protect your body and arms from the sun and also for warmth.
Jeans - for warmth, protection from elements and also the brush
Belts - to keep your pants up and look stylish in the process.
Buckles – usually bling and for bragging rights about some rodeo event you won.
Boots - because these are leather - they not only keep your feet warm but protect you from bush slapping. The heal will depend on whether you are wanting to ride & rope or just more pleasure ride.
Chinks/Chaps - to protect you from the elements and also if you are bush riding.
Slicker – outer shell keeps out the wind, rain, sand and whatever else mother nature throws at you.
Gloves - warmth and keeps the skin on your hands from turning to leather.
Spurs - used to cue your horse
Most items for the cowboy/cowgirl are leather due to the durability and protection factors!