I began my quest for show clothing by eliminating what I was using for endurance rides: Ariat Terrains with summer weight half chaps (synthetic leather with perforated fabric over the calf), tights in blue, brown, black, wine, or wild prints, workout-styled tops, pebble-palmed gloves for winter, blue helmet with matching blue visor, blue windbreaker for cool days, and a blue or black rain coat for wet days. None of these would work in the dressage court.
So I left my closet, closed my drawer, and began searching the internet and catalogs for more appropriate clothing. My first lucky find came from my horseshoer's wife. She and her daughters were trading in their English riding wear for rodeo styled clothing and tack. I picked up a pair of gently used Ariat field boots for a cool $85. [I have since bought a pair of Ariat Maestro Dressage boots, and I school in the field boots.]
Once I acquired the boots, I realized that none of my socks were tall enough to provide cushion under those TALL boots. Second cool deal was the purchase of two pair of stylish tall socks from Target for $2.00 a pair. AND, they look EXACTLY like the $15.00 pair in the catalogs.
My next find came courtesy of Yozo's mom. She spotted some deals on show clothes at Horse Loverz.com. I picked up a nice pair of white, On Course breeches for $38.95, which included the shipping! And, they FIT!
Once I knew I had breeches, I sent my pal, Taz's mom, to the Goodwill where she picked up a gently used black belt for a paltry $1.95! The bottom half of my wardrobe was now in place. The top half remained ...
Stateline Tack was having a $5.99 flat rate shipping special so I started shopping for the rest of my clothing. I picked up a ladies "Starter" show shirt for $18.99, a snaffle bit stock pin for $4.99, a French velvet barrette with netting (which actually works pretty well) for $6.99, a velveteen helmet cover for $7.99 (did NOT need that), and a pair of white cross country gloves for $3.99 (definitely not good show quality, but they are cool for summer showing and they're cheap to replace).
The next items I had to find were a show coat and a show helmet. Again, the blue windbreaker and blue helmet were not going to work. Stateline Tack was still having the $5.99 flat rate shipping so I ordered a dressage coat for $99, but it came with a $25 gift card! I then applied the gift card to the purchase of an IRH Medalist Helmet which was originally $49.95, but I only paid $24.95 plus the $5.99 shipping.
So ... boots to hair bow, what was my final cost?
Drum roll please .... $314.77! It sounded cheap when I was picking things up for $6.99, but added all together, it wasn't as cheap as I was hoping for. My initial plan was to try for 4 shows last summer. I actually made it to six shows. So, divide the $315 by six, and the cost was only $52.50 per show. And I am still using all the stuff that I bought. Now that's a price most riders can handle!