It would not be wrong to say that I’ve worked much harder on my riding wardrobe than my work wardrobe. Dressing well is a form of good manners, or so says Tom Ford.
When I first returned to riding, I showed up in untucked shirts, no belt, my unflattering Kerrits tights and my cordovan half chaps and paddock boots that had to be at least 10 years old (which I loved anyway). It wasn’t embarrassing but it didn’t make me feel proud and especially when I transferred to a nicer barn, it didn’t make people respect me more as a rider. I quickly caught on that this was a barn where you dress for lessons. Shirts tucked in, always with a belt, and hair tucked up regardless of how nice any of your gear was. I’ve always been interested in fashion and took this as my opportunity to build a new capsule wardrobe, while also making sure most items I purchased (besides breeches) could be worn outside of the barn. Below are some items I’ve acquired over time with mindfulness in regards to quality and usefulness along with a color palette I could really enjoy.
Breeches are the one component of a wardrobe I would recommend not cheaping out on. No one wants to be mid jump and have a seam ripping incident, or (much less mortifying and likely) having to constantly replace breeches that show too much wear. So after trying a few different brands, I decided to try to classic Tailored Sportsmans and love them. I’ll be doing a review sometime in the future, but the flattering fit and wide variety of colors is what drew me to the brand. I also have a few pairs of the Mid-Rise SmartPak Piper breeches with silicone grip and love those for low-key schooling days.
Jackets & Vests
I’ll admit it. I have an addiction to vests. They’re cute, they’re warm, they’re flattering. I used to be in the camp of ‘they can’t keep you warm if they’re not covering your arms!’ but somehow, with whatever lightweight down magic they have, they keep me quite toasty on colder days. I have a diverse collection with one from City Girl Equestrian, some Patagonia, and some Uniqlo. Two of my down jackets are also from Uniqlo and the third used specifically for the barn was a Christmas gift from my trainers with their logo which I’m in love with (so happy to be part of a barn fam!).
Every equestrian needs a good set of belts. A good collection starts with black and brown leather and ends with every color of Hunt Club belts. When I first started back to riding I got some very cute non-functional belts from thrift stores which I also wear with my SmartPak breeches on occasion since they don’t actually need to be held up.
¼ zips and crewneck sweaters are my go to options for tops in the winter. Equestrian brands are great if you want a cute pattern or mesh sleeve, but Amazon and Target are also great retailers for cheaper basics. Searching for ‘long sleeve sun shirt’ gives a great number of options that are perfect for riding without the Kastel Denmark price tag.
Without getting too involved in color profile analytics, I tend to stick to neutrals because I have an olive based skin tone. Anything too pigmented makes me look sick, so sticking to blues and rose pinks, and any range of greens make me look best. I stay away from bright colors, especially red, orange and yellow. There’s a whole wealth of knowledge out there in the color typing world, though, and I’m not the most educated on the subject. Reddit's /r/femalefashionadvice is a fabulous wealth of knowledge if you're interested in investigating a suitable color palette for yourself.