Updated! How to: Equestrian-Inspired Fashion

Woman and horse in the show ring, jumping over a fence

This post is sponsored by Grand National Ladies Day. All opinions are my own.

I grew up riding and showing horses, and then stepped away from the sport for 20 years. I recently came back to it, and had to do a fair amount of Googling to figure out what to wear to ride a horse. (As it turns out, English riders don’t wear full chaps with fringe to the barn anymore.) It’s all inspired me to share some how-to on budget equestrian fashion.

The worlds of the equestrian and the fashionista have long overlapped. The highlights of the last 100 years of equestrian fashion include the elegant skirts of women riding sidesaddle, the hats Coco Chanel designed for her equestrian friends, and — most recently —  the jodhpurs worn by runway models at Tory Burch’s NYFW Fall ’16 Show. The good news is, you don’t need a Chanel-sized spending budget to get the look.

Bring out your new sense of style at brunch with friends or an upscale event like Grand National Ladies Day — best odds & horses.

Equestrian Fashion Staples

Boots, breeches, show shirts (called ratcatchers in my day), show coat and leather gloves. These are the core wardrobe pieces of the equestrian competitor.

Crisp White Oxford

The fitted white shirt is a must-have for any equestrian-inspired outfit. If you have a petite frame, look for side darts (or be prepared to add your own) as you want a slim fit, not a boxy one.

Fitted Blazer

Sometimes the real thing is less expensive than an inspired fake. This soft shell show coat from SmartPak is a steal at $69.99. If you prefer a more fashion-friendly look, try this one-button option.

Breeches or Jodhpur Leggings

Yes, you can buy riding pants (aka breeches) for about $50 on Amazon. But these low-priced options are likely to be poorly made and guaranteed to be unflattering. The riding pants people actually wear in the show ring range in price from $100 up to about $400. Equiline is a brand that’s particularly popular.

A more wearable option (that delivers a similar look) would be a heavier pair of leggings. Even better if you can find a legging with a knee patch like this pair from Polo Ralph Lauren.

Boots

A true horsewoman wears fitted, soft leather boots that top out just at the knee. The less expensive fashion riding boots generally fit wide around the calf and may be adorned with a buckle or other embellishments.

This style is a little slouchier than an equestrian would wear, but the low heel and minimal styling are just right.

For warmer weather, paddock or ankle boots are a nice option too. Any chunky ankle boots will do, but if you want a real equestrian look, find a pair of lace-up paddock boots.

Putting it all together

There are two major rules to follow when putting together an equestrian-inspired outfit:

If you’re not actually going to ride a horse, don’t go full equestrian. You’ll look a little silly if you throw every equestrian-looking thing you own at one outfit. Instead, build your equestrian pieces on top of skinny pants and — this is important — keep your shirt untucked.

Accessorize. A bold necklace, scarf or necklace are great choices, but choose only one of these.

You feel ready to put your own spin on equestrian fashion?

Catherine Brock

Owner and Editor at The Budget Fashionista
As a Southern California transplant now living in the Midwest, Catherine has turned layering into an art form and accepted that UGGs actually do have a place in the stylish lady's wardrobe. She's been featured in Woman's World Magazine, DrLaura.com, Refinery29, Wellness.com and has made appearances on ABC7 Chicago, FOX2News St. Louis, KCAL9 Los Angeles, Fox19 Cincinnati, WGN TV Chicago and WCPO TV Cincinnati.
Catherine Brock