Full Western Wear Dress at a State Convention

When attending a state or national convention, you will see the dancers in many different types of outfits.  The most common you will see is the traditional western style dress.   

Traditional Western Style Dress-  This will be the ladies wearing full, flared skirts with a multiple layered petticoat and matching pettipants. The men will be wearing western style trousers, with long sleeve western shirts, that match the ladies blouses. Shoes must be comfortable, be of suede or leather soles, not hard rubber that may mar or scratch the wooden floors we dance on. The ladies can purchase shoes specially made for dancing. 

Prairie Skirt- Another popular style of dress is the ladies wearing a prairie skirt in lieu of the flared skirt. The men will dress the same in both styles. 

Round dancers will probably be wearing either of the above two mentioned styles, however, the western style skirts will not be as full.  A few round dancers may wear formal ball-room style dancing attire. 

Contra- Contra dancers may be wearing clothing similar to styles of the Colonial period. 

Country Line- Country Line dancers will probably be wearing modern day western clothing, similar to the traditional, but the ladies will be wearing slacks or short skirts. Western boots may also be worn. 

Clogging- Clogging dancers may be wearing traditional western style outfit, a special dance costume, or just plain casual clothing.  Their shoes will be special made or modified for clogging. 

Higher Level Dancing- The DBD, Advanced, and Challenge dancers will probably choose the traditional western style or prairie style clothing. 

Casual dress- Summer, for men and ladies, slacks, jeans, or just above the knee shorts, short sleeve shirts, polo shirts, or T-shirts.  Winter, for men and ladies, slacks or jeans, long sleeve shirts, sweat shirt, team jersey, or sweater, men and ladies may or may not match. Shoes must be comfortable, be of suede or leather soles, not hard rubber that may mar or scratch the wooden floors we dance on. 

Special Theme Dress- Most clubs have occasional theme dances that encourage the dancers to dress in a different way or in a costume, such as Halloween, Hobo, etc.  Use your imagination, dress the part, and enjoy the dance.

When to Wear What: 

At dance specials, weekend evenings, and conventions, it is preferred to dress in traditional western style or prairie style, unless it is announced otherwise.  An exception may be a camping club. 

Square dance clubs have set their own policies as to when to dress in western wear or casual.  At the Hicks and Chicks, we recommend cool casual for June through September, and warm layer casual for January, February, and March. The other months are western attire. 

Some clubs dance casual dress the year round. 

When a club is doing a demonstration, dress in western attire unless otherwise directed. 

For club lessons, casual dress is preferred, except graduation night, then dress western wear. 

Additional tips:

Large dangly bracelets on ladies make certain calls more difficult to maneuver around, and is not recommended to wear dancing. 

Bolo ties vs. scarves- either one for men are acceptable. The scarves usually match the shirt the man wears, or the ladies skirt. 

ALWAYS wear comfortable shoes, leather soled shoes work best.  Bowling shoes with suede soles work well too, as long as the shoe can slide on the floor, you’ll be fine. 

It is encouraged to use the local suppliers of western apparel as they support square dancing in the Columbus area. 

Several suppliers and vendors will be at jamborees and conventions.  Ladies, be prepared to spend many hours searching their racks (And bring plenty of money) during these jamborees and conventions.

Royal Petticoats - Crystal

Western style Petticoat

 Western Style Petticoat- The western style petticoat shown above is extra full, and can be purchased at any degree of fullness as the dancer prefers. They can be gotten in many different colors to match the ladies dress or skirt. Because square dancers twirl, fancy pettipants are available in matching colors.

  Malco Modes CB-2X Stretch Belt

 Square Dance Belts

Ladies Belts- The ladies square dance belts shown above, will be the most common type used. They come in many different colors to match the ladies outfit. Other options may be a shinny silver belt or a leather belt. 

   Malco Modes T-1 Scarf Tie    

Bolo Tie or a Scarf 

Bolo Tie or a Scarf - Men have the option to wear a bolo tie, a scarf, or a western bow tie. A scarf should match the ladies blouse or skirt, or maybe his own shirt. A bolo tie is a stand alone style, it may be a picture, symbol, stone, or may be plain sterling silver.

TDS Designs Border Eyelet Blouse

Peasant Style Blouse

Peasant Blouse- Blouses shown in the couples pictures are the most common western style blouses. The peasant style blouse shown above is another accepted type.  Do not hesitate to wear other types of blouses you feel comfortable with. 


Collar Tips, Bolo Ties, Towel Holder, and Belt Buckles 

Men’s Collar Tips- These are metal “corners” that attach to the collar of western or regular men’s shirt to add a more western flair to the shirt. The tips come with a thumb screw or needs an Allen wrench (usually provided with the tips) to fasten. The bolo tie and towel holder may match the collar tips.

 Bolo Ties- Bolo ties are the most common tie warn with western wear. The different designs of a bolo tie is limited only to the creativity of the designer. The most basic is sterling silver with turquoise and coral. In the photo above, the all white center is really a silver dollar that didn’t photograph well, sorry. 

Towel Holder Men, frequently during the hot summer months, will wear a small towel (for obvious reasons) under his belt. The towel holder is a more convenient and attractive way to wear the towel. The holder may be made of metal or leather. 

Belts and Belt Buckles- Belts will be made of leather, be wider than normal belts, are plain or tooled with pictures or shapes, and will have snaps at the buckle end to permit buckles to be easily changed. The design of a buckle is limitless. The back side of the buckle has a loop to attach to the belt and a hook to catch a hole in the belt. 


Traditional Western Style Square Dance Attire

Ladies- Knee length skirt and flared petticoat, blouse to match man’s shirt. May be a one-piece dress. 

Men- Men will wear a western style shirt with yoke, collar, long sleeves, usually two pockets, and decorative snaps, and western style trousers, with belt and buckle. They have the option of wearing a bolo tie or scarf. The ladies prefer the men to wear long sleeve shirts when doing an “Allemande Left” etc. 

Men’s Collar Tips- These are metal “corners” that attach to the collar of western or regular men’s shirt to add a more western flair to the shirt. The tips come with a thumb screw or needs an Allen wrench (usually provided with the tips) to fasten. The bolo tie may match the tips. 


 Prairie Skirt Style Western Wear Attire

Prairie Skirts- Square dance attire evolved to a long prairie skirt for the ladies. The lady’s blouse and man’s shirt can be matching colors. The men may wear a bolo tie or a scarf that matches the ladies blouse or skirt. 

Round dancers may prefer this prairie style of skirt to the flared western style skirt.  Round dancers at a convention, may dress in a more formal type clothing. 


Club Shirts 

Club Shirts- Many square dance clubs have their club logo and club name on matching polo or T-shirts.  During the summer and casual dress dances, these shirts are perfect.  Most have the dancer’s name embroidered on the shirt.


 Casual Matching Outfits 

Casual Matching Outfits- Some dancers will choose to wear matching shirts and jeans for comfort. Not a common attire to wear to a traditional square dance, but has been accepted.

 Vests and Western Hats 

Vests- For dancers who would like the warmth or style of a vest, do wear them. They defiantly add class to your outfits., and if you get too hot dancing, you can take it off.  

Western Hats- For dancers who would rather wear a hat than not, the western style hat, also known as the ”Stetson” hat, is perfect. The author has a “cigarette” style western hat, where the brim is rolled up, so the wearer can store a days supply of cigarettes.  These hats can be worn inside the dance hall.