Purchasing breeches can be an excruciating experience. You’ll put a pair on and swear that they switched the mirror in the dressing room with one from a fun house. It is amazing the variety of ways a set of skin tight pants can make you look terrible. There is diaper butt, there is the can’t-get-it-over-my-thighs experience, there is the they-go-right-up-to-my-breasts adventure. I am sure you have your own combination of fond memories to look back on. So this article is for you, in hopes that you can eliminate some options in favor of saving your ego from particularly brutal knocks.
Step One: Budget
Of course money makes a huge difference in what you can buy. In dressage particularly, where we often ride in full seat breeches, your budget could be blown on one pair of breeches. So you have to decide number one – do you need to ride in full seat breeches? Oftentimes the answer is yes. But if your horse does not have huge movement and you do not need that extra grip, perhaps going knee patch would be an easy way to save some money. For myself, I do not notice a huge difference between my full seat and knee patch experience. It could be because I am almost six feet tall and mostly leg. If you need full seat breeches what I recommend is to invest in a few pair of higher quality breeches versus decking yourself out in many low quality pairs. I cannot tell you how quickly the leather becomes unwearable with low quality breeches. It becomes rough and the combination of sitting the trot, sweat and rough leather wreaks havoc on your inner thighs and groin. My high budget recommendation is Pikeurs. I know, I know, but you cannot beat the leather quality. Better than Cavallo and better than any product I have seen. I have had a set of Pikeurs what were given to me years ago and the leather is still buttery soft and without flaws. I destroy my breeches – they are worn for eight horses a day, five to six days a week and they hold up. For those on a budget, I recommend the Horze Duracheck breeches. They have a fabric called Dura Tough and they aren’t kidding. I have worn mine for a solid year now and it has not warped, torn or frayed in the slightest. I always purchase the knee patch, so cannot comment on the leather quality of the full seat, but the fabric itself is great! (By the way no one is paying for me to say any of this.)
Step Two: Torso Length
Your torso length and body proportions will inform what breeches rise suits you best. There is low rise, traditional rise and high rise. If you are proportioned evenly, then the traditional rise is the best choice, sitting right in the middle of your torso. If you have a long torso and short legs, the high rise breeches can give you the look of extra leg length (most of the very high rise breeches have disappeared from the market now). I am the last option, short torso and long legs. If I wear high rise breeches I look like one of the tripods from war of the worlds. The breeches climb past my belly button and nestle comfortably right under my bra. If you have long legs and a short torso, and do not favor the Urkel look, then low rise is the best. It shortens the appearance of your legs and lengthens your torso. Also take a look at the belt loops. If you are a curvy woman, a wider belt can look great!
Step Three: Fabric Choice
There are all sorts of fabric options as well. Personally, I dislike tights hugely. Riding tights might be good in theory, and very cool, but it leaves too little to the imagination. In those thin fabrics you can see underwear lines, dimples, sweat, and jiggles. You need to be a more confident person than myself to march around with all of those – ahem – qualities hanging out. I like tough, durable, fairly thick fabrics that will contain anything that might show or wander. As much as I might like you, I do not want you to see what underwear I am wearing. Also, the thinner fabrics just do not hold up under constant work. They catch and fray. So though riding tights might be less expensive initially, in the long run you end up paying more as they become unwearable.
Step Four: Color
You can get breeches is pretty much every color or pattern these days. My advice, if you are on a budget an can only afford a few pair of breeches, choose a neutral color initially. That way you can wear them again and again with a wider variety of shirts. I prefer darker colors because of the stains and smudges that I get throughout the day, but perhaps if you have a white or gray horse, you might what to go for something that doesn’t leave you looking snowed on.
Step Four: Body Shape
All of us are shaped differently. My body, for example, has decided that having no shape is the option it prefers. Some women are hour class, others wide at the shoulders and narrow in the hips, others the opposite. My advice for you is before buying, don’t just look for women who look good in breeches, look for women who look like you who look good in breeches. Every manufacturer shapes their clothing differently and what is best for one body shape might not be best for another. Don’t be shy about walking up to them and asking what manufacturer is, or if there are others that work well for them. If you know your shape and have a pair of breeches that work great for you, leave both in the comments section. Who knows, another rectangular shaped woman with a long torso might be looking for something that you have already found works great!
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