Rodeo Chic on a Budget

Today, guest poster, Jennifer Monahan brings us a quick tutorial on dressing for the rodeo while staying on budget! Jennifer Monahan is cowgirl from a small town outside of Jackson Hole Wyoming, who grew up working on ranches all her life. She later ended up marrying her high school sweet heart and having amazing 2 sons, who are growing up to be true gentlemen. When she’s not working around the farm, she’s writing in her free time. You can follow her on her new twitter page@JenMonahan76


Rodeo Chic on a Budget? Here’s How to Do it

Ladies, getting ready for the rodeo or donning the Country Western style can seem like it’s going to cost you a fortune. It can if you let it. But it definitely doesn’t have to. Here are the things you need to get, how to get them and, how to save on them.

A Rodeo Staple – Iconic Cowgirl Boots

Cowboy and cowgirl boots are some of the most iconic pieces in the rodeo and western repertoire. They are the staples of the style and not having them can be a detrimental flaw in any western outfit. These trademark beauties can be a little pricey, but this is the one area you do not want to skimp on. After all, these could last you a lifetime. Boots can be made from several different materials, all ranging in price. While faux leather is probably going to be your cheapest bet, it will not last. This could lead you to spend more money, every year and come out being more expensive than if you spent the money up front. Cowhide is the most common material for the cowboy boot, but there are others such as ostrich leather, caiman, goat, crocodile and lizard.Boot Toes

Boots come in several different toe types: snip, round, square, broad square, and traditional western. When it comes to choosing the type of boot toe you want, it comes down to comfort, personal preference, and your outfit choices.

Bridesmaid boots

Fancy, square-toed boots

Western Wedding Cowboy Boots


Boot Colors and Decoration

Boots nowadays have broken out from their traditional offerings of brown, blacks, and white shades. They now come in a literal rainbow of colors: pink, blue, green, purple, camo, all shades of brown, and any other color you can dream of.  If you’re a low-key cowgirl, you can always go the more traditional or classic route, where decorations are sparse. If you’re not-so-low-key and don’t mind the extra attention, go with the cowgirl boots that are embroidered with bright fantastic designs, embellished with rhinestones, covered with fun fringes and more.

Even if you don’t have anything festive planned, you can wear boots just about anywhere. They bring out the pop in a casual sun dress, make work outfits a little more fun or really bring out the flare of your favorite pair of jeans. The possibilities for your boots are endless.

Jeans, Skirts and Dresses

Once you have your boots picked out, it’s time to find the right bottoms. When it comes to western chic, you have a few options. You could go with the classics or doll it up. The choice is yours.

  • Jeans – These are closet must-haves for most of us. Jeans go with anything and can be altered to fit just about any occasion. They’re also extremely common and can easily be found in a thrift store, department store, your closet, your dresser drawer, your friend’s closet, etc. Once you’ve found the perfect pair of jeans, you can go to town on making them a custom work of genius.

Abby Prather, MUA. Photo by The South Dakota Cowgirl on Location at The DX Ranch, Eagle Butte, SD.



Dying your jeans is another option, along with bedazzling – drawing designs with fabric glue and topping with glitter or simply adding a few plastic gems.

  • Shorts – Shorts are excellent for the warmer months. Simply take your jeans and slice them at mid-thigh or go shorter if you want. You can distress them by adding a few tears and cuts followed by a few washing machine runs. This will cause the fabric to fray out and give your shorts that worn-out look. You could even add a few drops of bleach to make them even more distressed.
  • Skirts – Skirts are usually easy to mix and match when it comes to the rodeo style. If you’re a simple girl but want to keep your mobility, feel free to utilize a plain tennis skirt or any other type of sporting skirt. Skirts with pleats are also a good addition to the wardrobe. Like jeans, you can keep it simple and just add your own flare. Plus, they’re also very common and can be found just about anywhere.
  • Dresses – If you want to go a little further into the classy yet chic outfit, wear a dress. Rodeo dresses range in styles from the single shoulder show off, to the long sleeve conservative. These can usually be found at a Country Western store. You may even find a few inexpensive ones at local thrift shops or a second hand clothing shop that sells gently used clothes at drastically discounted prices.

Rodeo Cowgirl Tops

Button down shirts, be they plaid or solid, are excellent when it comes to customizing. You could tie the ends together in the middle and show off your stunning midriff or beautiful t-shirt, tuck it into your jeans and give yourself that classic cowgirl look or wear it open with a white, red or blue t-shirt underneath. Some of the solid button downs come with designs embroidered along the front and back, however tend to be a bit pricier. Others come with frills and embroidered designs. There’s really no wrong decision when it comes to picking out the right button down. If button downs aren’t your thing and you want to show off a little more, halter tops are also a great way to enjoy the summer months.


Senior, Dylan L. by South Dakota Cowgirl Photography

A Rodeo Icon, The Cowboy Hat

Another iconic piece of western wear that every cowgirl must have is the cowboy hat. These hats usually come in two main materials: felt, and straw. You may also find leather and suede cowboy hats.  A good felt can set you back quite a bit.  If you’re able to borrow or get your hands one for a fair price, they can warm up your head quite fast and are better suited for fall and spring rodeos.

Straw hats, on the other hand, give you the same coverage with more airflow. They’re much less expensive and bring together that cute, southern-Dixie, cowgirl look. Straw hats used to only come in one color. You guessed it – straw colored. However, now they’re available in every color imaginable. Straw hats don’t cost much these days. So you can accent your outfit even on a budget.

You may be wondering what to do with your long locks under the hats. Fret not, there are several different options. You could wear them in two braids, one long braid, down, straight, curly, etc. If anything, the hat will only accentuate your lovely hair style.


Belt buckle Concho Belt, Felt Cowboy hat. Rodeo Cowgirl Style. Photograph by The South Dakota Cowgirl.


Accessorizing is very important when it comes to your rodeo style.

  • Bandanas – These are great for tying around the neck. You can wear them with the flag straight in front, off to the side, or behind you. You can even fold them into a straight line and wear them in a “choker” style. Making your own bandana is pretty simple and straight forward. All you need is a 2ft x 2ft piece of fabric, something cut from a large swath of fabric, or even an old flannel shirt will do. Be sure to hem the ends to avoid excessive fraying and add whatever flare you want.
  • Belts – Ranging from thick to slender, light to dark, and plain to fabulous, belts are another one of those items you want to add to your outfit. For jeans and other bottoms with belt loops, you may want to stick to slender or medium width. For dresses and skirts, a thick belt sitting on the waist line is a great way to bring out that extra pop in your outfit. Belts are typically made out of leather, cloth, or plastic. You just have to find the right one for your style.
  • Belt Buckles – You’re adding the finishing touches to your wardrobe and it’s finally time to go big. Belt buckles are one of the few things that you want to make a statement with. They are one of the most important features of the cowgirl’s rodeo wardrobe. Some have full scenes engraved in them, while others simply have a few letters or swirly designs. They range from brilliant gold and silver to matte solid backgrounds.
  • Jewelry – Silver and turquoise jewelry are usually safe bets when it comes to getting into that chic cowgirl look. Chandelier or classic hoop earrings go great with dresses. Bracelets and long-chain necklaces with pendants are also good bets for bringing out that traditional style. You can pick up any of these fine pieces of jewelry at a thrift store or pawn shop. You could even borrow a few pieces from friends if you don’t already own them.

rodeo cowgirl cuffs by The Bucking Mare


self portrait, south dakota cowgirl photography, the south dakota cowgirl IMG_3526

Dressing like a chic cowgirl on a budget doesn’t have to be a mind-numbing endeavor. It can be fun to find all the right pieces and put them together to create your own rodeo star outfit. What are a few of your favorite western pieces?

What's on your mind?

  1. Great pics! Cowgirls rock and know country fashion, we find the best western cowgirl boots at Russells Western Wear as they have all the traditional and modern styles of real authentic cowgirl footwear brands.