MRA Fashion Tips: Leather Dresses

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MRA 1975, Connie Robinson

From formal polyester suits with gloves to big puffy sleeves and colored hats, rodeo queens and Miss Rodeo America, have seen it all when it comes to fashion and different style trends. Over the years rodeo queen formal wear evolved from the layered, modest suits to long, dressy leather gowns. These leather gowns, with the length always to the floor and the sleeves to the wrists and modest necklines, are still seen with modern embellishments in pageants and at some more formal events. Many people feel however, that they are a trend that is on the way out of the rodeo queen wardrobe.

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Amy Wilson, Miss Rodeo America 2008, with beaded chiffon sleeves.

This past year at the Miss Rodeo America Pageant many contestants were seen wearing leather while others wore dresses of similar cuts and styles but made completely of other fabrics. Beginning in the 2000’s queens started utilizing other fabrics along with the leather. Whether they used beaded chiffon for the sleeves, like Amy Wilson MRA, 2008 or lace for the train, worn by Maegan Hollander MRA 2009, the traditional leather dress started to change. Now formal gowns are often seen made out of many fabrics, like satin, lace, and a variety of matte fabrics.

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McKenzie Vice, MRA 2011

It wasn’t just the fabrics that began to change in rodeo queen formal attire but also the silhouette and lengths. One of the silhouettes that has become very popular is the mermaid, meaning that it is more form fitting at the top and flows out at the bottom. This style was worn Miss Rodeo America 2014 Paige Nicholson during her crowning moment and by Mckenzie Vice MRA 2011 as she gave up the crown. New styles in length include dresses that have slits in the front, are high-low length, or are short with floor length fringe. The fringe style was worn by Chenae Vest MRA 2013 during the 2014 pageant coronation. The important thing to keep in mind when changing from floor length gowns is a modest and appropriate length.

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MRA 2013 Chenae Vest and MRA 2014 Paige Nicholson

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Lauren Heaton, MRA 2015

Lauren Heaton, Miss Rodeo America 2015 wore leather gowns several times during this years MRA Pageant while seeking the gold crown. Lauren says, “I think that it’s important the rodeo queen world keep leather dresses as a traditional symbol for some occasions, but I do believe other fabrics can be used instead of leather as long as western elements are still present in the outfit. After all, we are rodeo queens and leather outfits and horses are some of the few differences we still have between other types of pageants. I like the idea of using different fabrics for outfits because it gives an additional opportunity to show individuality in style and personality while keeping costs down.”

For many years the leather dress has been a staple of the rodeo queen wardrobe. Perhaps times are changing and leather dresses are slowly falling away but there will always be a place for a traditional look or nod to the past. It may be that these dresses can always be worn at formal western events. This fabric is such a large part of the western life style that it will always have a place in a wardrobe of a rodeo queen, but for what event and type of outfit is up to you.

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MRA 2014, Paige Nicholson, in a lace and leather gown.
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Lauren Heaton, MRA 2015, leather gown.
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Mackenzie Ivie, MRA 2012, in a full length satin gown.
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MRA 2014, Paige Nicholson, in a fabric gown with a front sheer slit.
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Maegan Hollander, MRA 2009, in a leather gown with lace sleeves and train.

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