During a recent discussion on Twitter, it came to my attention that a) not everyone adores side zip breeches and b) Tailored Sportsman is apparently considering discontinuing their side zip line because they aren’t as popular (oh, and raising the price of their breeches by $10).
This came as a shock to me because – at the time – I adored the side zip breeches (however, front zip has taken over side zip in my heart, and I’ve been selling all of my side zip breeches and replacing them with front zips). Before this recent change, I used to get annoyed when a pair of breeches only came in front zip or when a particular TS color I liked only came in front zip. I’ve recently overcome that annoyance because I have found quite a few pairs of breeches (both TS and non-TS) that I liked that were front zip, and I don’t really miss the side zip when wearing them! However when I found out that the Tailored Sportsman side zip breeches might no longer be available one day, I wanted to figure out why.
These are the pros for side zip:
- More flattering on certain body tops;
- More trendy in hunters and equitation as they look better under a hunt coat;
- Cleaner look;
- Not as bulky;
- No “poof” in the abdomen/crotch area;
- Easier to wear belts with the side zip as the buckle is usually worn to the side;
- Look better when on a horse;
- More comfortable
And these are the cons…
- Can be uncomfortable if the zipper presses into your hip bone or skin;
- Some people have complained of awkward bunching with this type of zipper;
- Wearing a belt buckled to the side (as is the style) can be uncomfortable;
- Look awkward when not off the horse;
- Nothing to break up the lines from your legs to your torso to the top of your body;
- Not as “traditional” as the front zip breeches
There are some pros to front zip breeches:
- When fitted properly, they don’t cause unnecessary bunching in the crotch area and aren’t uncomfortable;
- More traditional looking;
- Break up the line from your legs to your hip to your torso;
- Often accented with buttons;
- Don’t have to worry about positioning your belt to the side as is custom with side zip breeches (though I have to admit, I wear my buckle in the front, even if I have side zips… faux pas, sue me);
- Easier to come by
- Don’t have to worry about the zipper digging into your hip;
- More athletic looking
The cons to front zip breeches:
- Can bunch unnecessarily causing you to look like you’re wearing a diaper or you’re very happy to see someone;
- If not fitted properly, can dig into your lower stomach (I’ve had this happen with the regular rise TS breeches which is why I prefer low rise);
- Not as traditional/trendy in the hunter/eq ring;
- More work, especially with the zipper and clasps;
As I said, I am in the process of switching to all front zip breeches (I might save one tan pair of side zip TS breeches – just incase). I originally was soured to front zips by a pair of TS breeches that were not low rise. They came too high on me (I’m only 5′ tall), and they would dig into my lower abdomen when I was sitting down, which was extremely uncomfortable. I never had this issue with the side zips once I discovered them, so I swore off front zips. However, I’ve tried other pairs of breeches that only come in front zip and have realized they aren’t so bad if they fit properly and are made for my height. Also, certain TS colors only come in front zip, so I had to suck it up and buy them if I wanted that color. I’ve come to love my front zip breeches just as much as my side zip, but I’ve also come to recognize the side zip shortcomings, such as the lack of breaking up the line between your legs and waist. It can look quite unflattering at times! I also had a close friend tell me that side zip breeches made her look like she had.. well, man parts (insert crying & laughing emoji here).
Overall, choosing between front zip and side zip breeches is a personal preference. It’s also about dressing for your body type. Front zip breeches will break up the eye line from your legs to your torso to your upper body because there is something there – usually a zipper and a few faux buttons. Oh, and you better be wearing a belt if there are belt loops! Side zips do not have the same effect as the zipper is on the side. Even if you are wearing a belt with the buckle in the front, there isn’t something to break up the line, hence the “cleaner” look. However, side zips have their cons too, as mentioned above.
If you are super tall or have long legs, wearing front zip breeches might be the best option for you. This way, you are breaking up the line of your body. If you really love side zip breeches and are tall or have long legs, you can always choose a belt with a wider buckle. This can serve the same purpose as the front zipper. I have long legs and recently looked at a photo of myself wearing side zip TS breeches. I was wearing a belt that had a thinner middle piece, and I was appalled at how I looked. I can’t really describe it, but I feel like having front zip breeches with that particular belt would’ve broken up the lines better and not made me look like such a behemoth (which is amazing considering I am only 5′ tall).
As I said, there are rumors that TS will be discontinuing their side zip line due to its lack of popularity (about which I am still astonished – I thought everyone loved side zip TS), it may be worth getting used to front zip and finding some brands you like that fit you properly because you may not be buying side zip TS breeches anymore.
Front zip breeches I adore (besides TS) include: Le Fash, SmartPak Pipers, Struck Apparel, & GhoDho. Definitely check them out if you haven’t already! Le Fash, Struck, & GhoDho carry a large price tag, but SmartPaks are budget friendly and come in awesome colors. SmartPak also recently release a SmartPak Piper Show Breech. There are also other SmartPak breeches that come in front zip that are budget friendly, like the Bradleys. I don’t own these, but Equine Couture makes budget-friendly front zip breeches too. Finally, another great brand to check out is Lo-Ride Equestrian Wear breeches (though these are pricey as well), available at Equestri Lifestyle Boutique. I do not own them, but I have a close friend who swears by them.
In all reality, dressing for riding is also like dressing for non-riding. Your perceived flaws can still come out in riding clothes, and dressing for your body type is the best way to make yourself feel comfortable. You are not required to wear side zip breeches simply because they are trendy nor are you required to wear front zip breeches because they are traditional. Wear what you like and what looks good on you. That’s what matters!
Do you have any tips about or feelings on side zip breeches vs front zip breeches? Let me know in the comments below!