CALGARY - White jeans, sheriff badges and the wrong hats are some of the cowboy fashion fumbles that our political leaders have made at this year's Stampede.
Western fashion is everywhere in Calgary during the 10-day celebration of rodeo life, as everyone from oil executives to people on the street makes an effort to find their inner cowboy.
There's no exception for politicians, who want to show they're just regular folk as they rub elbows with the locals and try to rustle up votes.
The Canadian Press asked an honest-to-goodness cowgirl in 2013 to judge seven politicos who dropped in for the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth. Brittany Pozzi is a champion barrel racer from Victoria, Texas, and is competing at this year's Stampede, which went ahead despite extensive flooding in southern Alberta just two weeks earlier.
Pozzi had no idea who any of the politicians were and so she was able to offer a non-partisan opinion.
Dressing western isn't just a Calgary phenomenon — Pozzi said it happens at every rodeo across North America where people want to fit in.
Her remarks right off the top make it obvious there's a strict cowboy fashion code — right down to the brand of jeans.
First up this year was Prime Minister Stephen Harper:
"This gentleman looks fairly well dressed for the rodeo. He's one of the better ones I've seen. He's got a long-sleeved shirt. The jeans probably aren't Wranglers, but he has on a nice pair of boots. He looks OK, but his hat could probably use a little more of a square shape at the front," Pozzi said.
Federal NDP Leader Tom Mulcair:
"He's definitely dressed for the Stampede, wearing the "Hell or High Water" T-shirt, but a sports jacket? The jeans don't appear to be Wranglers and the sports jacket is just a little bit fancy."
Federal Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau:
"This hat is a big no-no. It's too small. I prefer a bigger brim and not so much of a taco shape, but he does have a button-down shirt on and a belt."
Federal Green party leader Elizabeth May:
"Definitely the broom skirt for an older woman is very fashionable at the rodeo. It is a nice look. But the sheriff pin? That's a dead giveaway. She's here to watch the rodeo."
Alberta Premier Alison Redford:
"This girl is dressed pretty appropriately for the rodeo, but I would say I don't see many barrel racers wearing white jeans. She has a very nice shirt on and her hat is shaped well. It's good except for the white jeans."
Alberta Wildrose Opposition Leader Danielle Smith:
"I would say she is very appropriately dressed for the rodeo, except for the sheriff pin, but maybe that's something they all have on for some reason. I think she is very well dressed. No buckle, but I say, hey, if you didn't win one, don't wear one."
Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi;
"Not too much of a cowboy right here. Usually when you're riding, you want your jeans a little bit longer ... and his shirt isn't tucked in. But his hat does have a nice shape. I'm impressed with his hat."
It should be noted that Redford, Smith and Nenshi have been seen in several Stampede outfits this year.
Pozzi took some time in deciding the best-dressed
"There's no disaster. That's why it's hard," she said.
The winner? Smith, followed by Mulcair and Redford.
"The best-dressed is probably this girl," she said of Smith. "She kept it simple. She can go to the Stampede. She can go to the Ranchman's after and I think she'll look suitable at both places."
Redford could have finished higher, Pozzi said.
"She did really well in having an overall good outfit. I didn't love the white jeans. That's probably what got her third place."
And at the bottom of the list? Calgary's mayor.
"He has a nice hat ... but he doesn't have his shirt tucked in, so this is probably our worst-dressed Stampeder."
— With files from Lauren Krugel