When it comes to English riding events, I seriously believe apparel and show coats in general are often overlooked. That old adage you only get one chance to make a first impression holds especially true when it comes to competing.
Choosing a new showing jacket is a big investment. It has to look, fit and perform its best. Show coats are the first thing a judge will notice. I was looking for tips for a new coat and I found this pretty good list from Stateline Tack. It covers a good deal of fitment issues that you definitely do not want to overlook.
- Shoulders - When fitting a hunt coat, the jacket seam should create a point where your shoulder ends. The jacket is the incorrect size if it sits shorter or longer than your shoulder. If the seam is too short, the jacket will pull out of shape, causing it to become tight and uncomfortable.
- Waist - The narrowest part of the jacket should sit at your natural waist. If the jacket's waist is too high or too low then the rest of the coat will fit improperly.
- Length – The bottom edge of the coat is supposed to cover two-thirds of the rider’s backside. It’s better to get a riding jacket that is too short rather than too long. Long coats can easily get in the rider’s way; they also cause the rider to appear shorter than he or she really is.
- Sleeve Length - The length of the sleeves is sometimes overlooked. The best way to judge the length of the sleeves is by hanging your arms down your sides; take note where the bottom of the sleeve reaches, ideally your wrist. Bend your elbows in the jacket. How much do the sleeves slide? They should expose about one and a half inches of your cuffs.
- Button Position - In a good fitting jacket, the top button should lay near your sternum. The bottom button is not supposed to be lower than your natural waist.
- Width - While you don't want a baggy and disheveled looking coat, you do want one that is roomy in the chest area. To check this, grab the top of the coat and pull it away from your body. How far is the material from your body? It is recommended that there be two to three inches of space but no more. Now do the same test on the bottom of the jacket. The jacket should have two inches of slack in it.
Appropriate and well-fitting, competitive equestrian clothing not only showcases your command of the sport, but also provides rider safety. Wearing the proper show jacket also shows respect for the elegance and control of English riding. I’d love to hear your thoughts on finding or fitting jackets!