You know what they say about dressing up nicely: when you look good, you feel good, so you do good.
While there’s truth to that saying, it’s not always about being style-forward when it comes to equestrian fashion. Since horse riding is a sport that requires a lot of movement, its matching apparel must also take practicality, function, and comfort into consideration.
You may not realize it, but great field boots, soft socks, and sweat-resistant gloves can help you experience the best rides of your life. It’s the smallest things that make the biggest difference.
Ready to get started in revamping your riding wardrobe? Check out our helpful tips below!
In this article, we will talk about:
In this article, we will talk about:
- The Basics Of Equestrian Fashion
- Good Alternatives For Basic Items
- How To Save On Equestrian Clothes
- Best Accessories To Complete Your Outfits
- Dressing For Leisure Riding
- Dressing For Shows and Races
- Match With Your Animal Through Accent Pieces
Basics of Equestrian Fashion
If you’re starting from scratch, there are only five pieces of garment that you need to begin building a riding ensemble. You might even find some of these in your closet already! Here’s a handy checklist to guide you:
- Hats — Contrary to popular belief, hats aren’t just for the show ring! Head coverings are good to have for protection against the elements when you’re out riding, plus it's fun to pick out designs that match your outfits! However, if you’re planning on venturing into trail riding, a helmet might be a smarter choice for safety.
- Shirt — When picking out shirts, go for ones made from materials that will work with different seasons—cotton is a great for this because you can wear it on its own or layer it with thicker materials. Keep in mind that long sleeves provide covering from the sun and prevents painful scratches in case of accidents, too!
- Jeans — For leisure riding, boot-cut jeans should do it! If you want something that feels more dressy, you can opt for English equestrian trousers which are usually available in western wear stores. When shopping, pick a pair that’s not too tight or too loose—ill-fitting jeans can either cut off the circulation behind your knees or cause discomfort in your groin area.
- Chaps — If you want to take it up a notch, leather leggings come in handy if you want to look good while being able to move riding through brush, inclement weather, or even herding cattle. Chaps keep your legs at the perfect temperature no matter the weather, too.
- Riding Boots — No equestrian ensemble would be complete without good footwear! It goes without saying that you should choose a style that will suit the shape of your feet. It should be comfortable enough for you to wear during long rides or competitions as well.
Smart Alternative Investments
If you’ve got the basics down, it’s time to make small upgrades with pieces that are a little more dressy. You can experiment with the following:
- Vests or Waistcoats — A snazzy cover-up packs a punch, especially for performing at shows! Select a material that allows you to move smoothly like cotton or lycra.
- Tights or Full-seat Riding Breeches — While chaps are the staple for riding, you can opt to switch things up for more casual events! Pick one that can secure you from heavy rains and winds.
- Short Boots — Investing in high riding boots that look ideal for shows and competitions is a smart move, but feel free to splurge on short boots with trouser socks for everyday training or leisure riding.
- Coats — Top things off with a show-stopping final touch! Choose one made from luxurious materials like tweed or light leather. Take note of details like silk lining or double satin piping, trims and buttons to make sure you get one that fits your style.
- Riding Gloves — Prevent calluses and bruises from handling rope while looking sleek! It’s great for providing additional heat for your hands during the colder months, too.
How To Save On Shopping For Riding Apparel
Much like our daily wardrobe, there are similar saving tips that apply to our riding lineup—avoid impulse buying, repair instead of replace, and take advantage of sales. However, since equestrian clothes are specialized pieces, we’ve listed a few tips that can help you get value for money:
- If a clothing item catches your eye, whether it’s new boots or chaps, check the prices from multiple stores before making a purchase. Do your research so you are able to get the best quality for the best price—you can do this by browsing through different websites or even going in-store to get a feel of the materials used!
- Even in the world of equestrian fashion, trends and styles completely change every season. This can lead you to believe you need to constantly update your wardrobe. If the item you are eyeing is something you WANT and do not NEED for better rides, be patient and wait for it to go on sale.
- When it comes to equestrian fashion, a lot of items are seasonal. To save a few extra dollars, the trick is to shop for essentials during the off season. For example, during the summer, stores usually go through their inventory and put blankets on discount to make room for that season’s goods that will be arriving from their suppliers.
- Shop for good quality items in consignment stores. If you aren’t willing to spend for brand new items but still want pieces you can keep for a long time, branded second-hand stops are the way to go. They usually sell a wide variety of branded and off-brand items that have been barely used so they can serve you for a long time.
Best Additional Accessories
Now that you’ve got the basics down, it’s time to show a little barn pride through some customized riding accessories! Check out these three items we think every showrider must have:
- Silks — This is what people usually call “the jockey’s uniform” as it usually shows off their barn colors. If you’re a solo rider, you can design it yourself or if you play for a team, it’d be great if you could coordinate your jersey.
- Brooches — Like silks, brooches are a good way to display team spirit! It’s always nice to have a personal touch to any outfit, especially for ones used for one-of-a-kind occasions.
- Whip — This is a must when legs and spur aren’t quite enough to get your horse moving. Pick one that suits your style best and you’ll be good to go.
How To Dress For Leisure Riding
Every horse enthusiast enjoys a leisure weekend ride. For more casual occurrences like this one, feel free to wear whatever makes you feel the most comfortable—breathable shirts (even cotton t-shirts) , semi-loose fitting tights, and light leather boots should be good enough.
If you’re going for an adventure with your animal in the winter, consider dressing in multiple layers, and remember to bring a warm coat, hat, scarf, and gloves. There are no rules here—just keep the colors and cuts coordinated and you’re good as gold.
How To Build A Good Show Outfit
If you’re going on a big race day, stick with an easy polo shirt, a pair of riding pants, and stylish leather boots. If you want just a touch more of the audience’s attention, a vest, good gloves, and an eye-catching whip would be the perfect additions to complete your outfit.
For the race pros, you probably already know what you like to wear for competitions but you can always add a new twist to your outfit with a unique brooch or anything from our listed accessories above.
Matching With Your Horse
This one is for the true-blue fashionistas! If you’re really into the idea of taking your race outfit to the extreme, try investing in pieces that will match your ensemble to your horse’s tack. Some of the items you can invest in include:
- Saddle Blanket — Primarily meant for comfort and protection of your horse from injury, but with the right design, it can be used as an accessory to coordinate with your furry partner. Pick out colors that are on the toned down side to avoid flashing the crowd with standout hues.
- Customized Saddle — If you have the budget to splurge on a customized saddle, it’s a smart investment because this is something that you can use long term! Work with a saddlemaker that will help you get the correct measurements, choose the right materials, etc.
- Bridle — While it is mainly used to direct the horse, you can also get one especially made with a design that matches your show boots or riding helmet. Function and fashion in one at its best.
NOTE: Before dressing up your animal, make sure he’s clean and tidy-looking! Learn more about how to groom him properly here.
Now that you’ve got a good base for equestrian fashion know-how, we hope you’re as excited as we are to build better riding outfits! No pressure though—because at the end of the day, no matter what you choose to wear it’s the riding experience that matters.