So you met a hot cowboy (or cowgirl) on Tinder and they invited you to the rodeo for your first date. You’re probably panicking because you couldn’t ride a horse or toss a lasso to save your life! Beyond that, you have no idea what to wear to a rodeo. How can you be sure you won’t look like an idiot? Relax we’ve got your back. Here’s a quick wardrobe guide to help.
What to Wear to a Rodeo – Guys
The basic rodeo outfit for guys includes:
- Cowboy boots
- A cowboy hat
- Suitable jeans
- A button-down shirt or t-shirt
- A leather belt plus buckle
- Optional jewelry
Let’s look at each of these wardrobe items in detail.
1. Rodeo Cowboy Boots
When you’re shopping for boots to wear to a rodeo, you have three priorities – style, comfort, and function. Don’t show up in your work boots because their steel toes are likely to overheat. You can wear ankle boots or calf-length boots, and brown ones are more versatile.
The heel should be low – an inch or so. That lets you walk comfortably. A wide toe is less likely to pinch or stink, but you should always stretch them if they’re new or you’ll be miserable all day. Opt for dressy boots that have decorative designs or embroidered detail.
2. Cowboy Hat
You’ve seen those cheeky cowboys that tap their hats back when they want to look innocent or boyish. But in reality, if you tap the rim of your hat from below and it falls off your forehead, the hat is too big! You want the rim of the hat snug but not sweaty or grimy.
Cowboy hats can be wool, felt, or straw depending on your budget. But if you don’t want to fully commit to the rodeo look, you can wear a baseball hat or a trucker hat. Just be sure it’s not a blingy one that screams city chic. Anything with cowboy couture is fine (horses etc.)
3. Cowboy Jeans
Put some thought into the kind of jeans you wear to a rodeo. Don’t pull out anything cuffed or ripped – those are entirely too urban. You want a simple pair of well-fitting blue jeans – leave the other colors for the afterparty! Try a straight cowboy cut with a comfortable fit.
Younger guys (teens and twenties) should wear looser fits that older guys (over thirty) can slim it down a bit. Skinny jeans and baggy jeans are out though, and never, ever sag!! Boot cuts aren’t bad, but a straight leg is far more stylish. They hang loose over your booted feet.
4. Cowboy Shirt
As a guy, you have two basic choices of what to wear to a rodeo. You can wear a button-down or snap shirt or a t-shirt. Long-sleeved shirts work best, and you could go with a plaid pattern or a paisley one, though solid shirts work as well. For t-shirts, try western themes.
The shirt should have a collar, and you could choose to wear it with a bolo tie. You’re not going to need a jacket or a blazer unless it’s an indoor rodeo, but choose a darker shirt color that will hide your sweat stains better. Flannel shirts are great for this and are often snaps.
5. Cowboy Belt
A leather cowboy belt is an essential rodeo accessory. But one with a chunky buckle – preferably in silver, because your shirt will probably stay tucked in. You could accessorize your outfit with a bulky watch. Even if your belt is hidden under a t-shirt, wear a good one.
After all, you might get lucky and you don’t want your date to wither when she checks out your waist. For the same reason, carry your best wallet to the event. That tattered suede one may bring you luck at the races, but you don’t want her nose curling as you pay for her drink.
What to Wear to a Rodeo – Girls
The basic rodeo outfit for girls includes:
- Cowboy boots
- A cowboy hat
- Jeans or shorts
- A rodeo-friendly skirt or dress
- A button-down shirt or t-shirt
- A leather belt plus buckle
- Suitable jewelry
- A suitable purse
Let’s dig a little deeper into these rodeo fashion tips. First, decide the look you’re going for. Do you want to pass for a local and blend in with the other cowgirls? Or do you want to stand out as a savvy fashionista and pull in the boys that like exotic company? Before the cowboys hear your accent, your rodeo clothes speak for you, so be sure they’re saying what you want!
1. Rodeo Cowgirl Boots
At the rodeo, fancy boots rule. But look for round toes or square toes rather than snip toes, because you’ll be on your feet a lot. Ankle boots are too drab for a day out, but knee or thigh boots will look and feel ridiculous, so get boots that nestle mid-calf with lots of embroidery.
Color is good too, both on the leather in on the decorative stitches. A low heel is smarter so you can flirt in style and comfort. You could go for brown or white boots, or you could get something brighter that accents an element of your outfit, from a t-shirt logo to earrings.
2. Cowgirl Hat
Guys can get away with baseball caps at the rodeo, but if you’re looking to make a fashion statement, leave the cap at home! Get yourself a well-fitting cowgirl hat that flatters your face shape and works with your hairdo. Blingy hats are fine, but simple ones blend in better.
Think about the statement you want to make. A bejeweled hat might mark you out as an urban stylista, so if you don’t want that hanging over you, you could opt for a simpler version. Or you can get a hat embellished with turquoise detail and fancy feathers instead.
3. Cowgirl Jeans
As an urbanite, you’re probably thinking boot cuts work best. But when a cowgirl is going out, her jeans of choice are fitted ones that she can tuck her boots into. Stretch jeans are good too. And unlike guys, you can get away with colored jeans. But not the ripped ones!
You can include a little booty décor to show off your assets, pun intended. Look for boots with embroidery and bling on the back pockets, and you can have some at the front pockets too. Remember, rodeo guys wear jeans over their boots, but girls tuck them underneath.
4. Cowgirl Shorts
If you have the legs for it (and the confidence too!), Daisy Dukes are perfect for the rodeo. These cut-off denim hot-pants are comfortable for the occasion and they suit the weather too. You can match your denim shorts with a flannel shirt, a peasant blouse, or a t-shirt.
The shirts need to fit right, so don’t just massacre an old pair of mom jeans! Just like your longer pair of denim cowgirl pants, you want shorts to cuddle your rump and draw attention. Embroidered back pockets are good, but the front pockets should never peek below the hem.
5. Cowgirl Skirt
You may want to wear a long, flowing gypsy skirt to the rodeo, but it will only get in your way. A short skirt is more appropriate, and the shorter the better. Your styling options are wide. You could get a curvy denim mini or a short straight suede. Fringes are even better.
Don’t go for tartans, plaid, or school-girl skirts though – those checked patterns are better on your blouse. Just be sure you can walk (and bend) comfortably. And remember, your skirt might cause friction – both physically and figuratively, so consider protective underwear.
If you really do want a longer skirt, you could go with something asymmetrical. But the smartest option is to wear a skirt that stops at the knee and has fringes the rest of the way down. It will keep your legs from overheating and won’t impede your movement either.
6. Cowgirl Dress
If you’d prefer a more overtly feminine look, you can opt for a dress in denim, suede, or leather. As with your cowgirl skirt, it should be short but comfy. This could be anything from a boho dress with bell sleeves to a plunging one with rhinestones and beads. Lace is fine too.
You want your rodeo dress to be fitting but pliant so you can walk, breathe, and even dance when the music comes on. You could pick a dress with details and tones that you can highlight in your purse, shoes, or jewelry. And no, your cowgirl dress doesn’t need pockets!
7. Cowgirl Shirt
The top you wear to the rodeo will depend on what you have on below. It has to match your jeans, shorts, or skirts, and will likely be cropped or tucked in. You can wear plaid or flannel just like the guys, but get a long-sleeved fitted one that flatters your curves more effectively.
Or you could knot the shirt. Peasant blouses and boho shirts work well at the rodeo, and you can always opt for a cowgirl-themed t-shirt, knotted or not. If you go with a shirt, it can be embroidered or fringed, but it should be a collared button-down. Short sleeves are okay too.
8. Cowgirl Jacket / Vest
While the guys don’t have to worry about getting cold, girls don’t want things poking out when they shouldn’t. So whether the rodeo is indoors or outside, consider adding some light over-wear to your rodeo outfit. You can go wrong with a denim shirt or a suede-fringed vest.
Another cool tip is to wear a girly blouse inside – like an off-shoulder, boho, fitted t-shirt, or crop top. Then you can carry (or wear) a long-sleeved plaid shirt on top. You can wear it with the buttons open or half-closed and change up your look as the day proceeds and gets cooler.
9. Cowgirl Belt
A chunky belt looks amazing with jeans, shorts, or even a dress, but the style you choose will depend on your outfit. For the rodeo, a silver buckle is ideal, and you can add rhinestones and other details. A clutch purse works best, or a small sling purse that matches the belt.
Cowgirl belts are generally slimmer than cowboy ones, so if you’re in doubt, thin is in. You can also opt for a purse that goes with your boots, earrings, or neckwear. Those little call-back accents give your outfit an intentional, unified look that defines your sense of style.
10. Cowgirl Jewellery
Bulky pieces may seem gauche in other circumstances, but at the rodeo, big is best. You can get away with anything western, so earrings, pendants, or bracelets that have horses or cows in them are good. You could also try tasteful Native American motifs like beads and feathers.
Turquoise is always a winner, though hanging earrings may get in the way. Pick your ear ad neck wear based on the hairdo you plan to use. Most rodeo girls wear their hair down in voluminous curls that will flutter in the breeze, so hoops, studs, and pendants all work fine.
11. Cowgirl Purse
When you’re picking a bag for the rodeo, smaller is better. It should have a short, slim strap or be nestled in your palms. Leather may seem cute but will soon get sweaty, so suede might be smarter. Highlight bits from your belt and your jewelry, and carry minimal stuff overall.
Fringed bags are cool if your skirt or vest has fringes too. Or gemstones to match your turquoise jewels. But if you’ll get too excited and forget your purse somewhere, find a way to have your date carry your phone and your lip gloss. Or just leave your stuff in the car.
Indoor Rodeo Tips
There’s not much difference in the fashion advice for indoor and outdoor rodeos. You may not need sunglasses or sunscreen. But if the arena is air-conditioned, consider warmer options like long-sleeved shirts and denim jackets. And you can wear lighter colors because you won’t have to worry about mud or dust. But consider carrying less baggage.
Why? It’s a building, so they may have stricter rules about keeping your stuff in lockers or carrying bulky backpacks. After all, security is more of an issue in enclosed spaces, so minimize your luggage.
Many rodeo stalls are pop-ups or open-air affairs, so don’t assume you can swipe. Carry some cash in small denominations, just to be safe. You’ll also need a cushion to sit on. You might think you look like a sissy, but those bleachers won’t do any favors to your rump.
Depending on your confidence levels, you could pack some sunscreen, hand sanitizer, or wet wipes. These are all practical pieces, but they will mark you out as a novice (or a mom!). You can safely carry sunglasses though. But opt for aviators rather than RayBans. More homey.
Do you have any further thoughts on what to wear to a rodeo? Tell us in the comments!