By Jordan Nassif.
I figured that I would write my first piece for this blog in regards to something that I imagine everyone would like to know: In a sport where money gets you just about everywhere, and people can indicate their location on the equestrian totem pole via their wardrobe, how the hell does one save money trying to keep up? Is it even worth it?
There are certainly plenty of riders out there who couldn’t give a fig about what they wear and have probably saved themselves a world of trouble for it. Perhaps this is not the article for them. I admittedly can be spotted riding in garden shoes and a sports bra on our farm. In many cases fashion eludes me too.
As women, we deal with a lot of ‘first glance’ types of judgements. I am certainly guilty of this. This doesn’t mean that one needs to dress to the nines for schooling at home. Some days I go to the barn all dressed up because it makes me feel good. It’s the same logic I employ when I study in the library. There’s something about wearing an outfit that you feel good in and having your hair done nicely that makes you feel like a million bucks. Some of my most productive midnight study sessions have been accomplished in a full face of makeup. However, some days I could care less what I look like at the barn. I have made enough appearances at the barn in yesterday’s makeup and dirty breeches to probably make some people think that I live out of my car.
The point is, do whatever it is that you do looking however it is that makes you feel your best. Studies have shown that looking your ‘best self’ increases confidence and cognitive ability. It explains that extra ‘zing!’ you feel in your show clothes or even when your horse is looking particularly well-turned out one day. And quite frankly, if you feel your best in a chicken costume, well then I can’t tell you that it’s wrong for you to wear it.
You probably already have an idea of what you feel your best in, or what you would like to see more of in your riding wardrobe. So it is now my job to help you put those items in your closet without leaving you broke (and some of these tips may apply to your horse’s closet as well).
1. eBay: It might as well be a crime to buy something online without checking eBay first. There is almost nothing for sale at Dover or SmartPak that you can’t find on eBay. I have purchased Back on Track, Le Fash, Tailored Sportsman, Edgewood, joint supplements, etc. from there. I’ve saved thousands of dollars doing this. Many people have raised concerns about buying faulty or fake products from eBay. This is not an issue at all. I’ve made some six hundred orders from the website in the last four years, and only one or two times have I had an issue. PayPal and eBay both have Money Back Guarantees, so if you are unhappy with your item, and you send it back you won’t be out any money. eBay also has an Authenticity Policy which keeps sellers from listing fake items. There are many tack shops that have opened eBay stores to list their items. Even if you cannot find a discounted version of the item you want, many stores don’t collect tax or they will ship for free, which still puts more money back in your wallet.
2. RetailmeNot. Most of you are probably familiar with coupon websites. This website searches thousands of brands to provide up-to-date discount codes for you.
Here are a couple I found when I typed ‘Dover’ into the search bar:
– $25 off of $150 with code CM17RIDE
– $10 off of $75 with code TENOFF
SmartPak also has at least ten codes listed under their search query. Sites like horse.com, horseloverz.com, and places like Hobby Horse Clothing, and Adams Horse and Pet Supplies are some of the names that appear when you type in “horse.”
3. Buy your summer gear in the winter. This applies to every clothing purchase, ever. Buy your bikinis in the fall when they are all on closeout. Buy your winter coats at a sports shop during the summer. There is no reason to buy something as soon as it comes out, unless you just have to have it. Almost every item you want will go on sale after everyone has had their go at it and moved on to the next thing.
4. When building your wardrobe, don’t focus too much on the trends. There is a time and a place to buy a Le Fash bomber jacket or a pair of denim breeches. If you are satisfied with your horsey closet then, by all means, purchase away. However, if you are just starting to build your wardrobe, it is better to start small. When I first started taking an interest in my riding clothes, I spent the first year and a half just replacing my old clothes with new staple pieces that would never go out of style AND would last. This meant a couple of nice pairs of tan breeches, a couple of sun shirts (necessary in this Texas sun), a nice black belt, and maybe one or two ‘fun’ purchases. I don’t think any trend will ever outlast the timelessness of a pair of clean tan breeches and a black pebbled leather Tailored Sportsman belt (or an equivalent).
5. Tee shirts! Polo shirts are so 2012, if you will. Some of you may still like them, but I often find them unbearably hot and tight. No one should ever underestimate the power of a couple of graphic tees in your closet. Not only can you wear them just about anywhere, but they can create many different riding outfits with just one pair of breeches. And they’re cheap! I’m not talking about the thick tee shirts that you lay around the house in. The perfect graphic tee should be a ‘tissue’ tee with thinner and nicer material to keep you cool in the saddle while still ‘dressing up’ the tee shirt look. You can find these types of shirts at Target, J. Crew, Ann Taylor LOFT, etc. My favorite graphic tee brands are Wildfox, MinkPink, and Junk Food.
6. Belts. Okay, lets abandon the black or brown belt with tan breeches imagery for a second. You can
breathe new life into a riding outfit with a new belt. Adding just two or three different colored belts to your wardrobe makes for several new riding outfits. Plain white shirts and tan breeches aren’t so boring with a patterned belt. You can get a wide belt at Target for $15. If you have the money to splurge, I also suggest Gucci. I bought my first Gucci belt two years ago, and I wear it almost every week. It looks timeless with a pair of breeches or edgy with a pair of leather pants.
The best riding clothes are the ones you can wear everywhere. And if you decide to go this route, don’t you dare buy one without checking eBay first.
7. Goodwill. I would not be making my mother proud if I did not include thrift shopping in this list. I just want to start out by saying shoutout to the Bellaire Goodwill for selling me a $200 Ralph Lauren crystal pony polo shirt for $10. You can find SO much at Goodwill. Belts, shirts, you name it. I would also suggest donating your old riding gear to Goodwill if you can’t find anywhere to send it. There are many Christian Charity shops in my city that sell all sorts of items, typically donated by their wealthy church-goers. I would advise making the trip to the nicer part of town in your area to go thrifting. These areas typically have a few high-dollar items that have been carelessly tossed into bins.
8. Sell your old stuff. Yes, predictable advice. But here’s a perk to slowly adding nice, albeit expensive items to your wardrobe— they have a high resale value. If I was to list a pair of my Le Fash breeches on eBay I could easily make $200. That’s over 50% of the original cost. This is because they are a trending item. People are willing to spend $300 on them and they’re more than happy to snag them at less than retail. Another example, I sold a pair of Equifit boots that I purchased for $100, for $45. That money goes into my next pair of boots. There is truly something to be said about buying ‘brands.’ What will the resale value be? I advise heavily considering this when buying an item. I have made over $3,000 in the last two years selling my old stuff at leisure. And yes, the money went towards replacing it. (Editor’s Note: Poshmark is another great way to sell used or new clothing items. If you want to give it a try, use my code GRGUR when you sign up for an account. You’ll get $5 to use towards your first purchase!)
9. Make lists. I understand that “setting goals” for your wardrobe may make some of you laugh at the frivolity of my suggestion. But if it’s something you want to improve, then set goals for yourself. Make a realistic list of some items that you would like to buy in 2017. Having it written out makes it easier to track sales for the item. Websites such as Polyvore are designed to help you keep track of what you want and when it goes on sale. You can easily add an item to your Polyvore list by clipping it with their browser tool.
10. Do your own thing. I wouldn’t feel right compiling this whole equestrian fashion list without dropping in a note about how you’re dressing to impress yourself. Seriously. Don’t buy the item because someone else told you to. Don’t go broke trying to impress other people who will judge you regardless. At the end of the day, if you think about it, it’s kind of stupid how horses have blown up into this huge classist society. Do I love Gucci belts? Yes. Do YOU need to wear one because I (or anyone else) am wearing one? No.