What To Wear To A Rodeo

When you think of the Wild West, it’s hard not to conjure images of cowboys, cattle drives, and rodeos. If a rodeo is on your…


When you think of the Wild West, it’s hard not to conjure images of cowboys, cattle drives, and rodeos. If a rodeo is on your itinerary but you’re unsure how to dress for one, we’re here to help. Rodeos are a type of sporting event that originated in the 1800s when Spanish vaqueros (cowboys) herded cattle from Mexico into America’s southwest region. Today, rodeos are popular forms of entertainment around the world. They may take place indoors or outdoors and include bull riding; calf roping; barrel racing (a timed race involving a horse); steer wrestling; team roping (where two riders rope and tie down a steer); breakaway roping (where riders rope calves but don’t tie them down); saddle bronc riding; bareback riding; goat tying (where riders dismount their horses and tie goats); mutton busting (where children ride sheep like bucking broncos), and more.

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To help you outfit yourself appropriately for your upcoming rodeo adventure, we’ve put together this handy guide on what to wear to a rodeo.


You should use cowboy or cowgirl boots.

For best results, the boot should be comfortable, fit well, and be broken in. In particular, a person might want to break in the boot’s sole and ankle.

Similarly, you should use a cowboy or cowgirl hat.

The hat should be comfortable, fit well, and be broken in. Hats can also have their brim curved by steam or water for personal preference.


Jeans are a crucial component of the rodeo look. You don’t have to wear them every day, but you should have at least one good pair of jeans on hand. Don’t even bother going to the rodeo without jeans if you plan on riding a horse or if there will be large crowds (e.g., Derby Day). They’re also handy for outdoor activities such as camping and hiking.

There are a few major brands that specialize in rodeo apparel, including Wrangler and Ariat. Wrangler is an American brand founded in 1904 by Thomas Dean (who invented the first pair of pants with rivets) and Charles Hudson Smith in Greensboro, North Carolina, United States (known today as Greensboro College). Notable products include Western shirts made from denim fabric–which were originally designed for cowboys working ranch jobs–and long-sleeved button-down shirts with white piping along the edges; both styles are usually worn tucked into high-waisted pants or skirts, giving them a timeless look that’s still popular today.

Snapback hat

A snapback hat looks good on anyone, and it’s a great way to finish off any rodeo look. Just remember that there are two ways to wear them: forward and backward. If you want to look like a real cowboy, go for the former. If you’re more of an urban cowgirl, you can’t go wrong with the latter. (You could also wear it straight up, but that would be weird.)

To make sure your snapback hat is extra comfortable when you’re riding or wrangling animals all day, try these tips:

  • Don’t forget to wash your hair before going to the rodeo—it can be difficult to fit shampooing into a busy schedule, but it’ll leave your scalp feeling refreshed and clean for the long day ahead.
  • Consider adding hand sanitizer to your daily routine if you haven’t already—it will help keep your hands soft and moisturized so they won’t irritate or itch under your snapback hat.

Western plaid shirt

Choosing a western plaid shirt is an easy choice for a rodeo outfit. The versatility of this style affords you the ability to wear it with jeans or dress pants as well as under blazers for formal occasions.

No matter which option you choose, make sure it fits right! Too baggy and your efforts will be negatively impacted, but too fitted and your look will be unflattering and uncomfortable.


A vest, (also called a waistcoat), is the perfect accessory for a rodeo. It’s slimming, so it will show off your physique. If you’re not interested in showing off your physique, there are vests that can help you look more toned. Vests are also great because they keep you warm and protect your torso from sunburn. What else could you ask for?

If you decide to wear a vest, here are some tips:

  • If the event is outdoors and near water or mountainous areas, consider getting an anorak vest or denim vest. These vests tend to be lightweight and come in fun colors.
  • If the weather isn’t too hot or too cold, wear a puffy or leather vest to show off those guns of yours!
  • If it might be chilly at night or early morning, consider wearing a fleece vest under another garment.
  • For formal events—such as fancy dinner parties—wear one of two kinds of vests: work vests or waistcoats for dress suits (with bow ties).

Belt with buckle

Many men love the look of western shirts and cowboy boots, but they don’t know what to wear with them. To find the perfect pair of jeans and boots to go with your western shirt, you must take a closer look at what’s available.

Notice that many western shirts have belt buckles attached to their collar. These buckles are not always made in a matching color—many are gold or silver—so when you choose your outfit, be sure that the buckle matches the color of your shirt.

Always be yourself. Nobody else can do it for you.

As you begin to piece together your rodeo outfit, it’s important to remember why you’re doing this. It’s not about the clothes themselves, but about what they represent. With a look that embodies your values and personality, you’ll be ready for anything the rodeo might throw at you—be it a sleep-deprived all-nighter sewing sequins onto fringe or an impromptu evening of line dancing while wearing sparkly cowboy boots. If your goal is to show up in something that makes people stop and stare, then by all means go for it! But if the purpose is to make a statement, then it’s best to keep the focus on who you are as a person.

Nobody can tell you how to dress or what style fits you best; only someone with no self-respect would do that. So don’t listen when those haters say fringe looks bad on anyone over five feet tall or that cowboy hats are only for folks from Texas. When choosing clothing for such an event as a rodeo, be yourself and have fun with it! You won’t regret making memories because of how good (or bad) your outfit looked in photos from 20 years ago!

Tips to Remember

You can wear whatever you want to a rodeo. The only thing that matters is that your clothes are comfortable, because you’ll be on your feet the whole time watching people wrestle calves and try to stay on bucking horses. However, it’s probably helpful to know what other people will be wearing so you can fit in and not look like a tourist.

If you want to look like an authentic cowboy or cowgirl, throw on some jeans with a belt, a plain t-shirt or button down shirt tucked in, and some boots with great stitching—and if they have anything written on them, that’s even better! A checked shirt with the sleeves rolled up makes for classic rodeo style. Of course if you have any kind of hat—cowboy hat or baseball cap—that will help complete your outfit!


In addition to showing your individuality, you will also be protecting yourself from potential harm at a rodeo. The animals and contestants are typically very good at what they do and are used to the routine of rodeo events, but that doesn’t mean they won’t get spooked every now and then. Having clothing on that will make you look like you belong there can help prevent any confusion on their part. If you’re wearing something that reflects your personality and sense of style while also keeping you safe, then it’s possible to feel confident in what others think of your appearance without compromising the protection it provides.

The last point is perhaps one of the most important components when deciding on how to dress for an event like this: show your individuality! There’s nothing worse than going into a crowd where everyone looks exactly like each other (or worse, identical twins). Dress according to what makes you happy with who are as long as it matches up with these guidelines for safety reasons–you’ll have fun because people around will probably compliment them too!

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