Western Horse Show Fashion Clinic 6: Blazers, Jackets

Last time, we talked about vests for the show ring. Now, let’s look at blazers and jackets for your show presentation.

If you show at the regional or state level, add a jacket to your collection of show togs after you collect a vest or two. Though a blouse or vest/blouse combination can get you through a lot of shows, jackets and blazers are part of the standard show uniform for showmanship and longe line classes these days and a nice option in riding classes as well. If you can only afford one piece, go for a short jacket that you can wear with show pants for halter classes, and with chaps for riding.

Blazers–jackets longer than your hip bones–are a fashion fatality when riding, as they simply bunch up around your hips and make you look like a pile of laundry. Blazers are, however, the preferred look in showmanship classes at Quarter horse and stock breed shows now. Consider the classes you’re likely to show in for the next year, then choose the clothes you’ll need accordingly. Keep an eye on color and style and you’ll be adding clothes that mix and match with your existing pieces to build a flexible, versatile wardrobe with elements that mix and match to create many different outfits.

In fitting jackets and blazers, a tapered body and lots of sleeve length are necessary–don’t let those wrist bones and Rolexes peek out! Vest-length hems are usually best for short jackets, and blazer hems should be proportionate to the wearer’s height: taller people can wear longer blazers without looking like they are being overwhelmed with fabric. Sleeve trims add interest in the arena, and can be placed all over, on shoulders, or cuffs, or perhaps tie in with yokes on the bodice of the garment.

Vest, jacket, and blazer fabrics range from the simple to the sublime, from denim to tapestries, wool to fine leather. They can be trimmed with anything from pretty buttons to faux fur collars, and decorations include appliques, embroidery, rhinestones, nailheads (metal rhinestones) and contrasting fabrics. Necklines may be V, rounded or high in design, or form novelty shapes including tulips and stars, with or without collars in mandarin, shirt and band styles. Popular closures include buttons, toggles and zippers in single and double breasted styles.

Try several different garments to see what looks best for you, and remember these tips when considering show vests, jackets, or blazers:

  • If you’re short, look for a vertical pattern to elongate your figure.
  • Thinner fabrics add less bulk to your silhouette than quilted or tapestry materials.
  • Princess-line seams (curved panels fitting over the bust) fit better than simple darts.
  • Full-figured women usually prefer classic styles with simple geometric designs.
  • Minimize your waistline with clothes that blend, rather than contrast, with your pants or chap color.
  • Try on show apparel with the rest of your show outfit and your hat. Everything makes you look fat when you try it on over a sweatshirt!
  • Avoid delicate fabrics like lightweight satin or embroidered chiffon–they abrade badly at the sides and are often an expensive disappointment.
  • Don’t settle for quality that is not at least as good as national brands of women’s wear in department stores–show clothes take a lot of abuse, and also need to dry clean well.

Remember, you’ll never get a second chance to make a first impression, so strive to create a winning impression the moment you step into the ring!

Next part > Show Pants > Part 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

Writing or riding, Suzanne Drnec enjoys horses and their people. Drnec is president of Hobby Horse Clothing Company, a show apparel manufacturer, and also the caretaker of an assortment of lawn ornaments including a Paint, a Quarter Horse and an antique Arabian.