Reno Rodeo Queen Eva Werschky and Morgan McVay show us how to get ready for the Reno Rodeo at D Bar M western store on Fourth Street. Mike Higdon/RGJ
Cowboy getups come from a long history of function and refinement, so when it's time to head to the Reno Rodeo to watch bull riders, bucking broncos and mutton bustin', leave the sweats and T-shirts at home and come prepared for a classy evening.
To help us, help you, Reno Rodeo Queen Eva Werschky and Texan rancher Morgan McVay took us to D Bar M Western Store on Fourth Street to teach us how to dress like cowgirls and cowboys.
For the city folk, some hipster clothes are not far off from the basic cowboy uniform. Dark jeans and plaid, button-down shirts will get you half way there. For the ladies, a similar basic foundation will also work, but with the addition of bedazzled belts, jeans and jewelry.
Here's how to get the rest of the way there, from head to toe:
Hats come in two large categories: felt and straw.
Felt hats are classier but also warmer. They can be made from various animal furs and come in a few basic variations on black, grey, brown and tan. Straw hats are cooler and better for workin' outdoors and come in straw color with some patterns or brown dyes for style.
Both come in a lot of different brim and crown combos meant to suit personal tastes. The only wrong kind of cowboy hat is the "taco" brim that folds all the way up against the sides of the crown. Why is it wrong? Because the purpose of a cowboy hat is to protect against the sun and a folded brim doesn't. But, Werschky said, they are still really cute on girls.
The stereotypical pinched crown most people think of actually hails from Texas and is called a cattleman crown. For an authentic Nevada frontiersman style, ask for the "Great Basin" crown.
As for the brim, D Bar M uses a steamer to customize the shape of the brim per person. Morgan said he prefers the flat-front of his brim to match the width of his eyebrows before the brim starts to curve upward on the edges. Customize to your liking.
Boots and pants
McVay and Werschky both said skinny jeans or boot cut jeans work fine, but with one caveat for the men. Morgan said tucking jeans into boots is not in-style for Nevadans, though he sees it in Texas because tall boots protect against rattlesnake strikes. In either case, a more authentic cowboy look requires tremendous amounts of starch to create a stiff, hard-line crease and clean, wrinkle-free denim.
Tons of boot styles range from traditional round-toe leather to argyle ostrich-skin square toes for men and even more toe, color and pattern variations for women. Morgan and Werschky both said all of these choices are up to personal taste though some guidelines help.
Morgan said most cowboys now wear the square-toe boots, which give more room. He said the skin choice doesn't affect the wear of the boot, noting he's partial to alligator.
For women, Werschky said the different toes go better with different clothes. Snip toe, the pointiest, and skinny square toe look best with skirts and dresses, while the square and round toes go better with jeans. Unlike cowboys, Werschky said cowgirls can tuck skinny jeans into their boots to show off the designs or over the top.
Buckles, wild rags and jackets
The casual Rodeo-goer can stop here, but just in case, the last few accessories may take any look to the next level.
Belt buckles are quintessentially country and western. Instead of finding a pre-made belt with brass buckle, go make your own belt at Tandy Leather on Kietzke Lane and Grove Street. It only takes an hour or two and provides options for numerous color combos and artistic expressions. The best part about belt buckles is that they are interchangeable. Anyone can make or buy one strong black or brown leather belt and use an unlimited number of belt buckles ranging from comic book logos to serious rodeo trophies.
Wild rags, also known as scarves and bandanas, are a great functional decoration for keeping warm. Bolo ties also add class but don't double as a napkin. Just to be sure to learn how to make a proper knot or pick up an ornamental clasp or slide.
Morgan said beware of the weather and bring a vest or denim jacket to the rodeo. While the high might be 70s, the lows for the week will be in the 40s and the show starts at 7 p.m. to 10 p.m.