How to Dress for Livestock Showmanship

This year, my youngest sister convinced her friend Lexie to show a pig for the first time.

Lexie may be a first time showman but she doesn't dress like it.

A high school junior, Lexie is older than most beginning showmen.

Instead of letting that discourage her, however, Lexie is determined to make up for lost time and learn everything there is to know about showing pigs.

This post goes out to all the “Lexie’s” in the livestock show world.

I’m starting a new category on my blog called “Livestock Showing” that will include posts with tips for beginning showmen.

Hopefully, this category will be a great resource for not just showmen but also their parents, FFA advisers and 4-H agents as they starting learning their way around the show ring.

Today’s post focuses on something most beginning showmen need a little help with, dressing for showmanship.

No matter what species you’re showing, showmanship attire for livestock is pretty similar.

How to Dress for Showmanship:

Collared shirt

The collared shirt is the backbone of your show attire. Make sure that your shirt has been ironed and is tucked in.

Some people say that a polo shirt doesn’t count as collared. In my opinion, polo’s are fine for preview shows because of the heat. For girls, polo’s are sometimes your only short sleeved option because its so hard to find short sleeved button-up shirts.

If you’re in an air conditioned barn or at a national show you should probably wear a more traditional button-up shirt.


You should show in your nicest blue jeans.

By “nice,” I don’t mean your hip-hugger Abercrombie jeans that you spent way too much money on. I mean dark wash, not faded or worn out jeans with no holes in them.

It is also important that your jeans ride high enough to keep your shirt tucked-in and backside covered. No matter what species you are showing you will need to bend over or stretch so if your jeans are already riding low you’re going to be showing the judge more than your animal.

Generally, a boot cut works better just because you don’t want your animal treading on a dangling pant leg.


You can do everything else right but without the boots you won’t look like you belong in the show ring.

Leave your rubber boots and muck boots out of the show ring. Leather boots (whether slip on or lace up) are much more professional.

Never tuck your jeans into your boots.  You’re showing livestock, not riding a bull.


My dad always said, “You’re not dressed for a show until you put on a belt.”

A belt is a necessity, plain and simple.

I don’t know why, I don’t know who started it, I just know that in the livestock world you wear a belt. Always.

Today, rhinestone belts are very popular, especially for ladies.

As a beginning showman, however, don’t feel like you need to spend $150 on a belt! A plain leather belt works just fine.

Things you should NEVER wear in showmanship:


In my opinion, you never wear a hat in showmanship.

Some cattle folks will say that a cowboy hat is acceptable, but I wouldn’t advise a beginning showman to risk it.

Don’t take a ball cap off right before going into the ring! You’ll have hat hair or a ring around your head.

Chewing Gum

Gum just looks unprofessional, plain and simple.

Just because you’re showing a cow doesn’t mean you should be chewing like one while you do it!

Cell Phone

I’m addicted to my cell phone as much as anybody but I know it won’t kill you to leave it with someone outside of the ring during showmanship.

Definitely don’t wear your phone on your belt, even if its on silent.

My sister and brother work as great models for how to dress for showmanship.

Remember, everyone in the show ring once had a “first show.”

We remember what it was like and we’re there to help you. Don’t be afraid to ask another showman for advice.

Your first show can be intimidating. No one likes feeling like the “new kid.”

If you follow these tips when dressing for a show, I promise you won’t look like a beginner!

About Celeste

Celeste grew up on a family beef cattle and show pig farm in Western Kentucky. In addition to farming and life as a restaurant wife, Celeste owns Celeste Communications where she works as a photographer, graphic designer, videographer and consultant. This blog is Celeste's personal soapbox. Any ranting or raving is her own and does not reflect the opinions of any of her clients. All photos and posts are copyrighted property of Celeste Communications.


How to Dress for Livestock Showmanship — 11 Comments

  1. Enjoyed your post… I am doing some research on showmanship at a livestock show and I found your information to be really helpful. Thanks!

  2. Pingback: Who is really watching you at livestock shows? - Celeste Harned

  3. I just read your post about appropriate showmanship (womanship) attire, and I agree with everything you said regarding the professional dress. You were not shaming girls/women, but giving professional advise, and my daughter (if I had one, I have 5 boys) would follow your lead. Thank you for standing up for attractive appearance with a lot of modesty!

  4. My 14 year old granddaughter shows Brahman cattle. Her mother showed equestrian back in the 90’s. Is it out of bounds to show cattle the way you show horses in showmanship? She is not very tall and has a problem seeing where the judge is in certain areas of showmanship. Would she be counted off if she showed the quarter system? I appreciate your opinion. Thank you.

  5. Hi Kathy! Unfortunately I don’t know anything about horse showmanship so I’m not sure what the “quarter system” is. Hopefully her 4-H agent or livestock club leader can answer that question for her.

  6. ???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????? ??????????????????????????????????????????????????

  7. Kathy for cattle you are not allowed to use the quarter system. Instead of using the quarter system when you need to find the judge you can just step in front to find him.

  8. Pingback: Odette Chui

  9. I see you don’t monetize your page, don’t waste your traffic,
    you can earn additional bucks every month.

    You can use the best adsense alternative for any type of website (they approve all websites), for more
    details simply search in gooogle: boorfe’s tips monetize your website

  10. I agree with everything you said except for the shirt. The treads now allow blouse type shirts for girls.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *