“It’s not about the brand of breeches or coat, the most expensive, or the trendiest, it’s about finding the right fit for your body,” says Arianna Vastino, designer of New York’s Le Fash line.
It’s also about avoiding criminal fashion offenses. These 10 in particular…
1. Size is just a number. “Do not get caught up on trying to be a “small” when the medium clearly fits better. Every brand has a different fit model. Don’t try to squeeze yourself into a size that is too tight,” says Vastino.
How can you tell? If you can’t get the hook and zip easily done up, then the breeches are too tight. Spillage overtop? Too tight. Can’t pull any fabric out on the thigh. TOO. TIGHT.
QUICK TIP: “A good way to keep the waistband fitting correctly is to give it a slight stretch when you take your damp breeches out of the wash. Then lay them flat to dry. That should relax the fabric a little bit.”
2. Olive green is so last season. TEN YEARS AGO. “Sometimes we see this on older riders. Maybe it’s a pair of pants they’ve just had forever, like those olive green Tailored Sportsman that were popular 10 years ago. They have lost their elastic, or maybe you lost a lot of weight,” says Vastino.
“If you have pants that are that type of olive green, which people really aren’t wearing anymore, or they look really baggy, or stretched out, it’s going to take away from your appearance. You’ll look messy. You want to look clean and neat in riding.”
QUICK TIP: When in doubt, wear tan.
3. Camel toe is never in style. “Low rise is popular in breeches. It’s not for everybody obviously, but if you do wear low rise it should fit right above your hipbone. Don’t try to get into a smaller size by hiking the breech up to the natural waistline—you’ll reveal far too much. If it’s a low rise, it should sit lower. If you don’t want it to sit low, buy a mid- or high-rise,” she advises.
4. They’re called “tall” boots for a reason. “When your boot falls too low it disrupts the line and makes your leg look shorter. If you naturally have a short leg or are just short in general, you want to use everything available to make it look longer,” says Vastino.
“When you’re in the saddle, the highest point of the arch—it’s called a Spanish top—should come to the middle of the knee. If it goes below that probably you should get new boots.”
QUICK TIP: “Order an extra Spanish top and it’ll give you ¾ to 1 inch more arch than a normal Spanish top.”
5. Leather Cankles. “Boots that are too thick or bulky in the ankle also shorten the leg. Ariat Monaco’s have a really tailored ankle. That will help with your look on the horse and it makes the leg look leaner,” she says.
QUICK TIP: “If you’re buying consignment or off the rack boots, buy a boot that fits the height of your leg and take it to a cobbler to have the leg tailored.”
6. The too short riding coat. “Nothing is worse than when someone is sitting in the saddle and you can see the lower half of their butt. It’s not flattering—no matter how nice your rear is!” says Vastino.
“Some people think if they go down a size they’ll get a tighter, more tailored jacket. And, some of the Animo jackets, even it you buy the right size, are too short. It looks like you outgrew your jacket and it makes your upper torso look stumpy. It doesn’t matter if you buy custom coat or an RJ Classic, the right fit is the right fit.”
QUICK TIP: “If you want to get that tight fit in a regular coat, buy the size that fits your length—the jacket should hit just below the butt cheek when you are standing up—and have it tailored by your local dry cleaner.”
7. Loose collars. “In the wake of the convertible collar trend, some shirt brands are getting away from how a collar should fit. It should fit high on the neck and snug. A lot of the convertible collar companies have them too loose, so they go lower on the neck and start to droop down. If you want to do a convertible collar without the overlay. Make sure it fits like a regular collar,” says Vastino.
8. Bunches and bunches of fabric. “A lot of the new shirting styles are more tailored in the body, so we don’t have as much trouble with the bulk in the breeches. But I still see people with the tighter fitting shirts do a bad tuck. In the back, you can see all the layers of fabric bunched up. It’s like a visible panty line. Times 10!”
QUICK TIP: “Tuck your shirt into your underwear so it lays perfectly flat. Put the breeches on over top, then pull the shirt up in the back so it folds over the waist band. This will help make it lay completely flat and allow for give, so releasing over the fence won’t mess up your tuck.”
9. Worn out helmets. “People often don’t realize that after about two or three years a helmet is compromised, and there is nothing more unfashionable than a concussion. Danger is a major fashion faux pas. I know they are expensive, but brain damage costs more.”
QUICK TIP: Can’t afford a new helmet? Show one less week a year.
10. Hairnet. Minus the hair. “I hate when the hairnet is over the ear, but there is no hair there. Or the hair is coming out in the back. There is a really great invention that came out. It’s called hairspray. Do your hair. Spray it in the back so no wisps come out. And put your helmet on,” says Vastino. “Also, choose a hair elastic that matches your hair.”
Looking chic isn’t about spending the most, says Vastino. It’s about making the most of what you’ve got. (And avoiding camel toe.)
Carley Sparks covers show jumping and related ridiculousness at getmyfix.org.