Stampede Style: Men's Edition

I have to admit, when it comes to Stampede Style, I am somewhat lost. I don’t own a belt buckle, I don’t have well-worn cowboy boots, and I have never invested in a proper cowboy hat. While I admire each component of a classic cowboy uniform, it’s just not me.

This will be my second year attending the Calgary Stampede, and this year I’ll know better — partly because I never repeat the same fashion crime twice (for example, I’ll never again attend a pancake breakfast in a preppy club jacket), and partly because I have enlisted some expert help. Phaedra Godchild, one of my favourite stylists in the city, and the personal shopper at The Core, volunteered to lead me through several options at The Core, and I must say, Stampede style has never felt fresher.

Ricky Zayshey and Phaedra Godchild.

Before our shopping date, Phaedra asked me to bring along one item from my closet that we could use as a starting off point. I chose my Clarks Desert Boots, $160, from Browns, partly because they're the only thing I own that looks remotely country, and partly because I know I can walk forever in these boots — perfect for a day at the Stampede.

Clarks Desert Boot.

Our first stop is at Harry Rosen, where I try on several shirts. This might be the trickiest component of my Stampede look because it sets the whole tone. Traditionally, a shirt provides visual interest and a pop of pattern or colour. Too much of either can look cheesy, and not enough can be boring. We decide on a beautiful lightweight plaid shirt, $115, by John Varvatos Star USA. It’s the right blend of country and city, and it looks great worn alone or under a blazer, so I can dress it up or down depending on the occasion.

Phaedra Godchild rolls up my sleeve for a casual look.

Now that I have my shirt, we’re onto pants. Phaedra has me try on several denim options from various retailers, but I’m the Goldilocks of pants: too short, too long, too tight, too baggy. I lose all hope until she has a stroke of brilliance — chinos. Why didn’t I think of it? Navy blue chinos are a modern take on traditional denim, and we luck out at Gap with the Lived-in skinny khaki, $59.95. They feel amazing, and fit me like a glove. I am almost positive I’ve found my new go-to pant.

It's not every day you find perfect-fitting pants.

So far, so good!

Next, Phaedra suggests we round out my outfit with accessories. Often these small touches can make or break the outfit. We head over to Holt Renfrew, where she shows me several bracelets and jewellery, but we fall in love with an amazing woven elasticated belt by Anderson's, $185, that really ties the whole look together.

Belt by Anderson's from Holt Renfrew.

Then we scoot to Aldo, where Phaedra has me try on a selection of bracelets. A great trend right now is to layer a collection of woven, beaded, braided and twisted bracelets on one wrist. Problem is, who has a jaunty collection of woven, beaded and braided bracelets to layer? It would take considerable time and money to get a really good assortment going. Aldo’s solution is to group them all together and sell the lot for a great price. We decide on the Ducker collection, $15.

I try on an assortmant of bracelets from Aldo.

And there we have it: my updated Stampede look. There’s only one thing missing — the hat.

What better place to look for the perfect cowboy hat than Smithbilt Hats? It’s a Calgary institution, and their famous White Hats have been worn by royalty, dignitaries and celebrities alike. I have always wanted a proper cowboy hat, and I have to admit, I’ve perused the selection at Smithbilt more than once. Luckily for me, they have a wide selection of sizes, and we are able to squeeze my melon (see picture below) into a beautiful black Cattle Buyer Hat in 6X Rabbit Fur, $230 (prices vary depending on fabrication and finish).

Smithbilt's Brian Hanson measures my noggin.

I've worn this outfit (minus the hat — so far, I've only worn it at home) several times, and it's not only become my choice Stampede look, but also a summer wardrobe staple.

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