Fashion Forward

STUDY IN CONTRAST: Farao Santana’s striking coat color is set off by rider Bethany Buchanan’s dark palette: jacket with understated bling accents, gloves, and breeches

With the attire rules busted wide open, we wondered what dressage competitors are doing with their newfound freedom. Enjoy this “look book” and get inspired.

Reprinted from the May/June 2022 issue of USDF Connection magazine

By Jennifer O. Bryant
Photographs by

Dressage competitors have been edging away from the black-and-white “uniform” for some time. Muted hues—think navy blues, hunter greens, and burgundies—have been creeping onto the scene, sometimes with boots and helmets to match. But until US Equestrian overhauled the attire rule for national-level competition (“Collection,” January/February), there was no getting away from the light-colored breeches and the limited color choices.

The new rule (USEF DR 120) isn’t entirely “anything goes,” but the options are now a whole lot broader—permitted colors, certain patterns in jackets, and even breeches, which are now OK in almost any color not deemed “bright.” Competitors have been clamoring for a less-restrictive attire rule for years, so naturally we wondered whether there’s been a retail stampede to overhaul those show-clothes wardrobes.

The answer thus far appears to be: Not entirely. Judging by what went down center line in Florida this past winter season, the majority of riders appear to be sticking with their perfectly good existing show attire, white breeches and all, at least for now. We suspect that may change over time, as items wear out and trends and technologies evolve. But the lens of well-known dressage photographer Sue Stickle still managed to capture a number of fashion-forward competitors who are embracing the new leeway and creating a show-ring look that’s distinctly individual. Here are some of the combinations that caught our eye. Enjoy this “look book,” and use it to jump-start ideas about your own show-ring presentation, this season or down the road.

POP OF COLORS: Another teal jacket, but the effect is quite different with this horse’s palomino coat color. Maya Ilada rides Golden Surprise. Maya’s jacket features white piping and collar trim, and large “bling” buttons. She pairs the look with an understated black helmet and black boots with croco-print tops and a row of bling.


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