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Western Fashion: Head to Toe

Chapter 4
JACKETS, TUNICS and BLAZERS

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Show jackets should capture your personality, work with the colors of your horse and your saddle blanket, and bring you confidence every time you wear them. Shown: Margaux Show Jacket
Jackets are an important part of a woman's western show wardrobe in today's competitive show environment. Whether you choose a simple unlined jacket for local level trail classes or a richly embellished flashy jacket for your World show debut, these upper-body garments set the tone for your showing presentation.

First, let’s define some terms. Jacket, tunic, blazer, coat, showmanship top... all refer to a constructed garment that is worn with the tails outside your pants. Different names define different styles, and a certain designation may be most popular in certain areas, or in certain breeds. Perhaps it’s easiest to define what a jacket isn’t: it’s not a blouse, and it’s not a vest, yet it covers the top half of your body when you compete. A show jacket or tunic usually zips closed, whereas a blazer generally has lapels, an open neckline, and buttons as closures and a longer silhouette than a jacket.



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Longer jackets or blazers are the standard in today's halter and showmanship classes. Shown: Tilly Show Jacket
An important question is "Do I really need a jacket or a blazer?" It depends on your personal taste and budget, and the current fashions of the breed or shows you’re competing in. While a versatile blouse may be your first show apparel purchase, the right show jacket as your next buy can completely change the personality of your presentation, create a specific impression for the judge while adding maximum versatility to your existing show apparel collection.

Though a blouse or vest/blouse combination can get you through a lot of shows, jackets (remember, shapely tops that are worn tails out, not tucked inside your pants) are part of the standard show uniform for showmanship and halter classes these days and a nice option in riding classes as well.

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Show jackets that ride at the hip can be worn for both halter and riding classes are a versatile addition to your show wardrobe. Shown: Bethany Tunic
Fabrics for tailored jackets range from the simple to the sublime, from denim to stretch fancies, wool to fine leather. They can be trimmed with anything- and everything! - from pretty buttons to faux fur collars, and lavish decorations including appliques, hand-painted or airbrushed accents, fringe, embroidery, rhinestones, faux jewels, chains and metallic nailheads and contrasting fabric insets like laces and sequins.

Necklines may be V, rounded, or high in design, with or without collars in mandarin, shirt, free-form, and band styles. Common to all show jackets, though, is a flattering fit that lets you perform in the show arena, and a style that captures your personality, works with the colors of your horse and your saddle blanket, and brings you confidence every time you wear it.

FREE DOWNLOAD! It's show time... and time to look at what to wear this year. Use Hobby Horse's FREE Personal Fashion Worksheet to vet your wardrobe and get Ready-to-Win!
Try several different styles of show garments to see what looks best for you, and remember these tips when shopping for show jackets or blazers:

Jacket, Tunic and Blazer Hints:

  1. If your torso is on the short side, look for a vertical pattern in the fabric or trim to elongate you.
  2. Princess-line seams (curved panels fitting over the bust) fit better than simple darts.
  3. Full-figured women usually prefer classic styles with trim around the neck and shoulders rather than across the bust.
  4. Minimize your waistline with clothes that blend, rather than contrast, with your pants or chap color.
  5. Try on show jackets with the rest of your show outfit and your hat. Everything makes you look fat when you try it on over a sweatshirt!
  6. Don't settle for quality that is not at least as good as national brands of women's wear in department stores- show clothes take a lot of abuse, and also need to dry clean or hand wash without damaging the trims.
Next: Chapter 5 - Vests


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© 2017 Suzanne Vlietstra
Hobby Horse Clothing Co. Inc.

About the Author: Suzanne Vlietstra is a horse parent, show clothing designer, boarding stable owner, and writer. Her current horsehold includes a Haflinger and a pinto pony. Comments? Reach her at suzi@hobbyhorseinc.com