Tips for Staying "put together"

I am a lifelong shlub and grew up working on horse farms in humid mid-atlantic summers, so by the time I was a teenager, I had a sense of “no amount of effort will overcome nature”. I’m 40 now and have barely moved on from that heuristic, despite working an office job my entire adult life.

At the same time, where I ride, the pros and many of the amateurs always look tidy and composed, including their hair post-ride. So I am a little mystified, but now convinced I can do a lot better than I previously assumed.

Any tips? Bonus if they don’t require regular trips to a hairdresser or multiple styling products/tools. Interested in hair, clothes, and make-up. Please feel free to assume I am a complete idiot on the subject, such as “wear clothes that fit”.


I am a shlub myself, and often look terrible, and I kind of just accept that during summer I will look like I just emerged from a war zone after a ride. I am also mystified when certain people look pristine after a ride (or several), especially on hot days.

That said, some things that help:

Clothes that fit is a start. For riding clothing, there are great brands with compression built in that smooth things out (Free Ride, for example), depending on your discipline.

Avoid light colors, especially white.

Waterproof sunscreen and makeup help.

On bad days, I keep a small towel nearby to blot my face.

Sometimes I sit in the car for five minutes and blast the AC after hosing my face/head off.

I find braiding my hair keeps the tangles minimized, and putting on a hat after a ride covers up the mess up top (and any line across my forehead from the helmet). I only brush my hair with a Wet Brush (cheap on Amazon).

ETA: I am also thinking of getting some cute bandannas as alternatives to hats for hair post-ride.


Ok here’s my brief “I’m lazy but I want to look good” list - barn edition:

  • Slim-fitting clothing (I’m not talking stuffed sausage, just form-fitting)
    - Amazon has some great lululemon knockoffs for cheap
  • Always tuck your shirt in, and always wear a belt!!!
  • Neutrals are always classy, plus it’s harder to see the sweat stains and horse slobber on black breeches.
  • Hats are my fav. Ballcaps, big summer hats, toques, those winter headbands, etc.
  • Hairnets. So underrated, so neat. Don’t recommend tucking your hair in as that can make it really flat and greasy.
  • Pre and post ride I recommend rocking the slicked-back ponytail/bun/ponytail braid if you’re not a hat gal. Worth keeping a brush at the barn for a quick post-ride cleanup. (Google “clean girl hair”, aim for a less intense version of this)
  • Try to keep your boots (both riding and barn) clean
  • Baby wipes. Just baby wipes.
  • Nothing like a cute pair of sunglasses to give you that effortless “I’m so cool and fashionable” vibe.
  • Having a designated “barn bag” so I’m not carrying in/out a bag of carrots, phone, keys, dirty saddle pad, water bottle, and the million other things I’m sure to need. Just looks tidier.

As for makeup, sorry girl I have no clue either :sweat_smile:


I also should add that UPF shirts, especially with mesh sleeves, help too. I like Bit & Bloom.


Forgot about these! Yes! I am a new convert, and keep them in my car. Also great for keeping masks clean when ducking into the store post-barn. I never realized how dirty my face was before COVID.


I read this as “I am a life long shrub”

That is all.


Oh man ok, great suggestions already. Don’t know why waterproof sunscreen and makeup escaped me entirely. My sunscreen is probably waterproof, I just didn’t think to check explicitly when I bought it.

@RedMareDontCare What do you mean about not tucking your hair into a hairnet? How do you use them without tucking? Or you mean don’t tuck hair under helmet when using a hairnet during schooling?

Sorry, I didn’t explain that very well. What I mean is that the hair going under the helmet (like your scalp) gets covered with a hair net to limit flyaways, but the rest of your hair should be left out of the helmet in a bun, ponytail, etc. And then tuck the excess hairnet into the helmet so it doesn’t look like you have a random matt.

Keeps things tidy while also allowing you to go more than one ride without washing your hair.


Thank you, OP, for starting this thread! Some great tips here! :slight_smile:


Echoing all of this!! When I got more serious about my riding as an adult, dressing nicer (from a kid who used to take lessons with all my friends in hula skirts…lol) immediately changed my mindset. If you find a pair of pants that fit you well, buy them in all the neutral-ish colors! Then you can just rotate out any fun sun shirts and belts…I am also always tucked in. I wear a hair net and if I don’t put my hair up in it, I do a neat braid. I also rock the hat/sunglasses after with a ponytail to disguise the sweaty redness and I feel like it probably gives the illusion of put-togetherness :rofl:


I have a friend who manages all sorts of color breeches, color coordinated tops, custom (and clean) boots and more make up than I own EVERY time she rides. We’re talking eye shadow of multiple colors, liner, mascara, lip stick. Oh, and blingy belts. It is completely beyond me how she can ride thru an upper level lesson in Florida heat and all the make up is still where it was supposed to be. Granted she has some help with grooming/tacking up but always partially involved and the woman never gets dirty.

I, on the other hand, have enough trouble keeping my gray/white horse clean, and there is no stopping the “oh let me nudge you while chewing hay, or oops sorry I sneezed on your shirt”. And my generally dark breeches and medium-dark shirts are constantly covered with little white hairs. Just figure that I’m the Pig Pen character of our barn. There is a running joke about whether I ever clean my boots. (yes a couple times a year) I can pull together briefly for a show, but otherwise I’m too old to change my stripes.


I mean really, where is the fun of having horses if you can’t hand feed them treats and let them rub their sweaty faces and slobber all over you? It’s a simple joy I will not give up.


At one time, I worked w a wonderful woman who bought all her clothes second hand, swore like a sailor, and ALWAYS looked impeccable. I think she could have fallen face first in a mud puddle and come up spotless. I’m nothing like her😃.


I almost always wear a shirt with a collar and never ride in a tank top. In the summer, my shirt is tucked in with a belt. I tuck in my 3 layers of shirts in the winter but I’ll skip the belt. That much stuff jammed in the waistband of my breeches with a belt wrapped around me is not comfortable.

Boots or half chaps should be cleaned. Wearing gloves looks nice, and keep your helmet dusted. I wear a hair net and tuck my hair up because I hate sweaty hair on the back of my neck. I have bangs so as soon as my helmet comes off I have to put a headband on to hide my sweaty bangs.

I will admit when I head to the barn just to check on my horse and am not planning on riding, I’m usually in gym clothes (and often have just worked out) and look pretty gross. I’ll also wear shorts and tall muck boots without shame, so I’m not 100% a role model for looking professional at the barn.


When I was riding seriously in southern California, I chopped off all my hair into a very short, spikey style. Voila, no added heat on my neck, no sweaty locks in my face. Take that helmet off, zjuzh up the (sweaty) hair with one hand, you look just fine. (Or you can dunk your head in a bucket and then zjuzh it to be rid of the sweaty part.)

I also dislike sunscreen, so I bought a man’s fishing shirt with SPF factor, and used that on top of my riding gear. Shirt looked large and schlubby on, but take it off, you look fine (if glowing. This was SoCal in the heat, after all.)


Start color coordinating your entire riding wardrobe. Only buy things that work with your color scheme. Something like natural greens, navies, maybe an accent dark cranberry. Whatever works for you.
Don’t confuse yourself with too many choices.

Find a brand that you know fits you. I mean really fits you well. You could make your entire riding wardrobe in that one brand. They are built around that idea by the way.

ALWAYS tuck your shirt in and wear a belt! This is 50% of the put together look in my opinion.

NO Tank Tops. Yes, Sun shirts. Sleeves always, short or long.

Hair: Depending on the Barn culture, you don’t need to ride and a hair net. But your hair should be tied back. When you’re done riding, out comes the baseball cap! Ponytail out the back.

Cute, fun, colorful boot socks are great way to spice up a monochromatic, adult outfit.

Get riding gloves that match your main colors.


Do you know of any brands that fit tall (long armed and long legged) riders with no waist and a few extra pounds in the midsection? LOL. If I could find that magical brand I’d be all over it!

I think a huge part of feeling put together is definitely your clothes fitting you properly. If things are too big or too small or the wrong shape for your body, you’ll feel sloppy no matter what. Great tips here!


I would take a trip to the nearest well-stocked tack store and try on breeches and shirts in your size from all the main brands. This is not a buying trip this is a fact-finding mission. You of course might find something you can’t live without, but you need to know how the different brands cut their clothing. Once you know that you can start haunting eBay.


Sorry to hijack your thread, OP! But thank you so much, Arlomine. Now to find this elusive well stocked tack store somewhere remotely near me :wink:


I have the monochrome mix and match riding uniform nailed. Breeches that fit and flatter as much as such things can, and a whole wardrobe of cotton polo shirts that are good colors for both me and horse, and go with the saddle pads. I end up with a lot of navy, dark green, dark grey.

Do I look put together? I dunno. I have been told by more than one person that I look like a mounted cop. I’m not sure that’s the look I’m going for but whatever.

However it’s also true that even good quality Pikeur and Cavallo breeches will fade unevenly down the thighs after a couple of years of outdoor riding and also the fabric eventually gets puckered on stress points. And then they just look dusty all the time.

So new helps.