Showing on a Budget – Part 1 Dressing Yourself

I am fortunate enough to be able to continue showing throughout college but I have witnessed firsthand people having to put their horse showing lives on hold because of how expensive it can be. Between trainers fees, traveling, show expenses, tack and attire, things can start to add up. Sometimes it seems hard to keep up when you see all of those fancy outfits in the show pen. I have gathered 3 important tips that can make showing on a budget possible when it comes to the clothes you wear.


Make it fit

Having the most fancy or flashy outfit doesn’t always mean you win the blue ribbons. Having well fitted clothing and a put together look from head to toe is most important. Most judges agree that they aren’t all fashion aficionados but a well-shaped hat is a must.  This doesn’t mean you fold it up with your hands when you take it out of the box but rather have it professionally shaped every so often. You can shape it yourself with a steamer but this can turn out to be a disaster if you are not familiar with hat shaping. You can get a quality hat shaping for around $20.

Your shirt should fit. This means not too loose and not too tight. A good option for those on a budget is a well fitting button down shirt. You can find long sleeved blouses for under $30. Then you should take it to a tailor to have it fitted, especially around the waist area to create good lines for the judges so see. Watch for the buttons on the bust area to make sure they do not pucker. That is a sign that your shirt may be too small or a button needs to be added to that area. A good investment piece to your show wardrobe would be custom chaps in a neutral color like black that goes with most other colors. Well fitting chaps are extremely important and getting of the rack versions altered can be difficult. If this is not a possibility for you, be sure to take your time is finding the right pair. It is crucial that they are long enough and not too loose. You can buy elastic extenders to put into chaps that are too tight and they usually fit just right by adding an inch or two

TIP: A put together look is not just about the clothing. Make sure that your hair is properly styled for whatever event your competing in. A general rule is that for showmanship and horsemanship your hair should be worn in a tight bun. Use only the lightweight hairnets so you do not add to much bulk. Be sure to invest in hair spray to keep the fly aways at bay.


Shop Secondhand

There are plenty of resale shops and private sellers that provide exceptional quality clothing at pretty good deals. This is the best way to find those sparkly tops everyone is searching for, but not everyone can afford. If you are buying online be sure to check the return policy. You do not want to order something and find out it does not fit properly. It is also always good to ask if there is room in the seams for alternations. Especially in children’s garments, seamstresses will sometimes leave seam allowances for the garment to be let out in the future. Also, some designs allow for the outfit to be taken in and some do not.

Shopping for black is always a good option especially if you are a hard to fit body type. This will make it easier to find matching pants, chaps and boots to go with the outfit. One of my favorite consignment shops is Closet Space based out of Wisconsin. They offer a great selection and are very friendly to work with. A bonus is that they carry your Kimes Ranch essentials as well!




DIY or do-it-yourself is something I am pretty interested in. I am not a seamstress by any means but I do what I can. Having a matching colored hat was trending for a while and I took one of my old, lightly colored hats and painted it myself. I took a swatch of my clothing fabric to Home Depot and used the color match machine to find the right color for my ensemble. It turned out really well and nobody ever knew the difference. They were always shocked when I told them that I did it myself. Another great DIY project is dying your own boots to match. This is especially important for showmanship because matching boots that are clean really complete the look. Getting the paint for this can be done in the same way as the hat. Then you need to sand your boots before you paint them to help the paint to adhere. Save all of the leftover paint for touchup purposes later. Lastly, doing your own sequin work can save tons of money. The bill for sequins can add up fast. There are plenty of websites to get high quality sparkles and there are various ways to adhere them but that is a personal preference. It is fairly simple and cost effective to have a simple shirt made of an interesting fabric and then to buy coordinating crystals to attach. DIY is a great way to save money but make sure you are confident in the work you produce before you take it to the show. Looking slopping is a disadvantage and you would be hurting yourself more than helping. Practice makes perfect when it comes to these things.

TIP: Do not buy the generic crystals that you might find at Michael’s or another craft store. Search online for a good deal on Swarovski or another high quality crystal as they provide much more sparkle and will look better in the show pen.

Stay tuned next week for more tips on how to save money this show season!


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