Post written by Miss Rodeo America Executive Board President, Kiki Shumway
The 2018 Miss Rodeo America Pageant is rapidly approaching and that always brings questions concerning the clothing guidelines. I would like to address these guidelines focusing on “trendy western party attire”. Several years ago, when it was decided to change the wardrobe requirements for the Fashion Show during the pageant so that the contestants no longer needed to wear a “formal western elegance” dress, the MRAI Executive Board searched for a name to identify the new dress requirements. At that time, we came up with “Fashion Forward” as a definition of a fashionable western party outfit. Those two words brought a multitude of interpretations as to what that meant even though many examples with pictures were given with this definition to the contestants.
It is time to remove the words “fashion forward” from this wardrobe definition! This year the contestants have been given the requirements for the outfit they will be putting together for their individual modeling during the fashion show portion of the competition. It needs to be a trendy western party attire outfit that includes western boots, western hat, accessories, state banner, belt, buckle and crown. All dresses must have sleeves and sleeves should be longer than a cap sleeve. (I recommend no shorter than ¾ length sleeve.) If dress or top does not have sleeves, then a jacket with sleeves must be worn. The skirt length should not be more than 3” above the knee. (My personal recommendation would be not more than 2” above the knee considering the height of our runway.) No halter or prom type dresses. No midriff showing. Nothing extremely low cut either in the front of back. This next sentence is very important. The style you project with your outfit SHOULD BE WESTERN! If you choose to wear a pant product it must be a Wrangler pant product. Greeley Hat Works hats and Justin boots are not required but encouraged. I would always recommend you wear our sponsors products.
Styles in the western wear market are continually changing and evolving to keep up with the times. There are hundreds of options and choices today to make your style your own and to add a contemporary western flair to anything you wear. I love that there are so many shorter knee length dresses that you can show off your fabulous boots! With this in mind, it is always important to think about what is appropriate for the event and exemplifies the ideals of class, beauty and grace we uphold for Miss Rodeo America. I love the definition stated by a designer I admire, Jan Faulkner; “To bring Rodeo Queen wear forward all that needs to be done is, shorten skirts, shorten sleeves, but keep the cowgirl in there, with embellishments and embroidery, paints and appliques.” There are many wonderful western wear designers and manufactures today to help you with your choices to keep it western.
In closing, I have been asked several times “How do the judges know what the interpretation/definition is of what we are looking for?” That is the job of every pageant committee as well as the MRAI Executive Board, to ensure that the judges are aware of all requirements of your pageant and that includes all clothing requirements! I have loved seeing this portion of the MRA Pageant Fashion Show evolve. I look forward to seeing what this year’s contestants will bring to our runway and I encourage you all to keep the COWGIRL in there!!