It’s no big deal if your breeches are a little short, or that your too-long show shirt sleeves crumple a bit at the wrist. But an ill-fitting show jacket is guaranteed to look awkward. For those of us who fall on the tall or short ends, the busty or boyish, petite or broad shouldered, finding one that is a perfect ten in terms of fit is an arduous task.
That said, the reward of the perfect show jacket is so fulfilling – the right one can make you feel ready to take on the world. Or your next class. Whichever comes first.
For you tall, long-limbed ladies, look for unlined jackets. Lining is essentially a smaller duplicate of the jacket, and while sleeves and hems can be let down a little, there’s no easy way to make the lining any bigger. Check on the inside of the folded bottom edge of the sleeve. Some brands will leave a little extra fabric on the hem to allow for them to be made longer.
Brands: Grand Prix and Sarm Hippique jackets do tend to fit longer.
Are you on the opposite end of the height spectrum? Always folding your sleeves under? Fortunately, tailors live for “making things shorter,” so if you do find the perfect jacket with the exception of sleeves that almost drag on the floor, they can fix it for you cheaply at around $10-$20.
Brands: Kerrits Kompetitor jacket, Elation and Pikeur fit petite sizes well and are easy to tailor.
Let me guess: anything that fits you up top is hopelessly tent-like around your waist. Luckily quite a few brands have started putting hidden zippers in their show jackets. This prevents button gapping, and a more secure closure means you could potentially go down a size to get closer to fitting your waist. As for general appearance, a jacket with wider lapels will balance out proportions. Ones with more seams running through the body are better for accommodating curves.
Brands: The Cavalleria Toscana zip jacket, and all Horse Pilot styles fit bigger busts very well, thanks to their unique and very stretchy fabric.
Boyish figure/athletic build
If you fall under this category, blazers in general (show jackets included), can unfortunately look boxy. They are essentially a menswear garment adapted for women, after all. Look for ones that have some curve at the waist, and lots of long, vertical seams. These are for making the jacket hug and accentuate the curves of your body.
Brands: Cavalleria Toscana GP jacket’s strategically placed seams and waist details give shape and definition. It fits most shapes very well, especially shorter torsos.
Riders tend to have shoulders that would put most gym queens to shame. While they may look gorgeous in a tank top, fitting them into a structured jacket can be difficult. Shoulder pads are very easy to remove (you can use the seam ripper in your braiding kit), which will give you much more room.
If you’re feeling courageous, try on a super stretchy men’s show jacket in a smaller size. I once helped a particularly Amazonian-built woman do just that, and the result looked fantastic.
Brands: Horse Pilot’s fantastically elastic fabric means that you don’t need to go up two sizes just to get something to fit your shoulders.
If you’re in need of alterations, an unlined show jacket will save you big bucks. As mentioned earlier, a lining is like a whole extra garment that needs to be taken apart and changed as well, hence it would almost double the price.
More rules of thumb include the fact that sleeves are always much easier and cheaper to fix than the body length. If the jacket is too big in the shoulders, it’s best to put it back on the rack, as it’s a very time consuming and difficult tailoring job. Any additions to the sleeve hem like zippers and buttons are also going to make it harder to alter.
If you’re still at a loss, certain brands will do custom orders. If you can swallow the extra cost, you’ll also get the perks of picking your own colours. It’s better for everyone involved if they can get the fit perfect on the first try, so make sure you get your measurements done in the store, or by a tailor for online orders, to ensure you get the show jacket fit of your dreams.