Help me dive into dressage fashion

I will be attending my first USDF/USET show in July and need some help with appropriate/suitable selections.I am coming in at 1st level, working towards our bronze scores (so 2nd and 3rd to come).

I have my tall boots, gloves and helmet. I don’t think any of my past hunter day stuff will fit nor is appropriate for this. Always white breeches? Coats…what is standard now a days? I see all these beautiful competition shirts that have zip up collars. Is that good to go, or do you need a stock tie and pin? Pretied stock ties? I am so confused!

I am a street size 12 jeans, large shirts, 36dd. Any help would be appreciated. I wish i could just wear my fullseat tights and polo! :slight_smile:

1 Like

I think things have changed a lot since I last showed. But yes, you do need a stock tie and pin. White or cream breeches, yes. Short coat in a conservative color. Black or navy used to be standard, but now we are seeing some nice dark grays and maroon jackets as well. If it were me, and I was starting out at first level, I would want to not stick out and stay with a very dark coat and white breeches.
The thing that struck me most when I switched from H/J to dressage, was the braids are so much easier! No getting up at 3 a.m. to sew in those teeny little braids, LOL.

Good luck!

Get a pretied stock tie. You will thank yourself later. If it gets hot and they waive the jacket, take off your stock tie - no neckwear without the jacket. Any coat in a dark conservative color is fine. I wear a three-button mesh coat in hunter green, it is waaaay too hot down here to wear a lined jacket. Your competition shirt can be any conservative color, but most people stick to white.

Good luck, and have fun!

1 Like

…and if they waive jackets the shirt must have sleeves.


A stock tie is not mandatory IF you have a stand up collar.

I’m in Florida where any extra clothing is not fun. Have shown w/out stock tie for the last couple years, one less thing to worry about. You do want one with some stiffness to the collar so it actually stands up. See Dover Cool Blast with the print fabric inside. Many jackets are now the techy, stretchy type fabrics. But I would go to some place where you can try them on in any event.


I haven’t worn a stock in ages, except for sidesaddle. The integrated collars (the zip/snap ones on regular show shirts now) are perfectly acceptable on their own; I don’t know that I see many other people wearing stock ties, either, unless they’re in tails. Most show shirts are a nice tech fabric and stay pretty cool. I’ve worn both my RJ Classics and Essex show shirts on their own at recognized shows, at First.

The rules on breeches currently are white or “light” colored–I’ve worn beige at recognized on rainy days, so I didn’t end up in see-thru pants :wink:

Depending on where you’re showing, in July, coats may be waived; pretty sure there’s one July show here in MD that states in the prizelist that due to summer heat/humidity coats are pre-wavied for the whole show. Almost everyone is in the newer technical materials, which will be MUCH cooler than you remember your old hunt coats being :wink: If you’re only getting one coat, I’d still go with classic black. I’m a big fan of the RJ Harmony mesh coats; if you’re on the shorter side, the AA Motionlites are very nice, too.

1 Like

I’m 5’9" short in the torso I suppose, but long arms and the AA Motionlite fits me really well. I was going to tell the OP to go for a mesh coat if she’s in an area that gets hot. I have a Pikeur that will likely not get much use because it’s fully lined and HOT.

Stock ties are not required - there are some nice show shirts out there with a little ruffle built in if you want the look of a stock tie without the hassle. The shirts with the mesh panels are really nice on hot days, and the way I read the rules, you can wear a darker color as long as it is not patterned, so that is an option if coats are waived and you don’t want to be in white top to bottom rocking the magical underwear look.

1 Like

You do not need white or cream breeches. Light colors like beige, light grey, etc, are fine. If your full seat tights are light in color, you can wear them, no problem. As others have pointed out, you do not need a stock tie, either. Should you choose to wear a stock tie, pretied is fine.

One big difference between hunters and dressage is that in dressage, what you wear is either legal of it is not. (Same for tack.) There is no subjectivity, no worries about what a judge might not like or think of as “non-traditional,” like in the hunters. As long as you are within the rules, the judges don’t care.


I’m somewhat similar in size, an 8-10 jeans but 36DD up top. I recently got a Horseware Competition Jacket in L as I wanted a Hunter Green coat. Except for the sleeves being way long it fits well. I also have a Pikeur jacket in black which fits really well but I don’t think they make that style anymore so that’s no help there.

At first level I showed in tan hunter britches and an old green wool hunter coat until regionals, and then went to white britches and the Pikeur coat. So don’t be too concerned as long as it’s conservative.

I do still wear a stock with my coat and have the velcro ones which have some color to them and some have pins already. I stopped tying my own stocks:)


1 Like

Light coloured tights or breeches. Most people will be wearing white but nobody will look askance if you are wearing beige or even very pale grey. Full seats are most common but kneepatch is fine.

If you are going to wear a stock tie and jacket no matter the weather, then you can wear whatever you like underneath in terms of a shirt. If you think you might opt for no stock then go for a shirt with a stand up collar. If jackets are waived and you want to ride without, you can’t have a sleeveless shirt, even a collared one.

Black, navy, and dark grey are common jacket colours but you will also see chocolate, maroon, and even dark green. I’ve also seen many lighter shades despite what the rules say. Shorter jackets are more fashionable than longer ones, but wear whatever is flattering and comfortable for you. Big busted riders appreciate jackets that have an inner zipper and bottoms over the top, which prevents gapping.

Gloves don’t have to be white. And shouldn’t be, unless you have very quiet hands or a white horse.

1 Like

I have some really cute pretied stocks from this Etsy shop
No pin needed!
I show 3rd as a recent convert from eventing and did gear up a bit - white britches, dress boots, new fitted jacket - Horsewear makes a very lightweight one that is not expensive and washes in the machine beautifully.
When coats are waived I just wear a nice light blue sun shirt.

Is there a rule on shirt color if jackets are waived? This is all I see in the rules:
“8. In locations with high average heat and humidity on the date of a competition, management can publish in their prize list that jackets will be waived for the duration of the competition. Alternatively, management can announce prior to or during a competition that competitors can show without jackets when extreme heat and/or humidity is forecast. This waiver applies to all classes including FEI classes at National Competitions. However, competitors must wear protective headgear and a shirt with
sleeves and collar, without neckwear, and without decoration except as described under .15 below. T-shirts are not permitted. Members of the Armed Services or police units may wear summer uniforms.”

Also I assume by t-shirts they mean a shirt with no collar, not a short-sleeved short?
And are there rules on belts as far as color/style/necessity?

Yes—polo shirts are acceptable, plain t-shirts are not. I’ve worn both pale pink and pale blue polos when coats were waived.

1 Like

No rules on belts; I’ve seen plain and small print ones and some with a bit of bling. I dont do belts but I wear a light vest over my shirt.

I have been known to wet the shirt prior to getting on… :grinning: In my hunter past, trainer would not let us show w/out coats, and so even the vest is a big to do for me.


Okay- I bit the bullet and went a little crazy on Dover… 1 question first: If coats are waived, won’t it look a bit goofy with white on white with breeches and shirt? Can I go short sleeved light colored collared?

-1 Pair or White Full seats ( I live in my dover schooling tights with silicone grip) Ovation® Ladies’ Celebrity™ Slim Secret™ Full-Seat Breeches. They have grey grip, so the entire bottom isn’t white, making me feel a bit more modest.

Love those breeches! That’s what I wear and they are by far the most flattering for my body type that I’ve found (admittedly not going to spend more than $150 on breeches either).

I do the white breeches and white sunshirt, but usually a black, navy, or gray belt to break up the marshmallow look. :wink: If you opt for the gray shirt, that would look great with the gray full seat.

Your can go with any colour shirt you want. I see lots of white on white, but also pastel colours, navy, even black when coats are waived.

Yes, you can do any color show shirt as long as it has a collar. I have a sky blue one with long sleeves I wear when the coat is waived. I’ve seen some people really push the envelope and wear multi-colored ones, but that’s a bit much for me.