Dear Jessica, this may seem like a trivial problem to you, but I can't think of who else I can ask, so please bear with me! I have a ten-year-old grade gelding that is my pride and joy. We have learned to jump and are going to be competing in some shows in late summer and early fall, if I can find some affordable show clothes. That's the problem. I've been looking through a stack of catalogs, and the prices are so high I can't begin to think about ordering anything. I have a helmet and a very old pair of boots, but I usually ride in sweatshirts or tee-shirts, and I have only one pair of breeches so I usually ride in sweat-pants. This is okay for riding at home and on trails, but I know that for the show ring I will need gloves and new breeches (mine are stained) and a real riding shirt and real riding jacket! What can I do? I would love to go to some shows, but I know that I won't go to very many of them, so I don't want to invest a lot of money that I don't have in fancy riding clothes. But I don't want to look like Cinderella either! Please help me, and I hope you aren't offended by this question.
"New" show clothes don't have to be "new and unworn, with the tags still on" -- they can be used, in good shape, and just "new to YOU". ;-)
Visit every tack shop you can find, and look for used items -- most shops have a rack of second-hand clothing somewhere in the back. Also look for items on "special"! Riding shirts and jackets and breeches are often put on sale racks when there are only one or two of them left, or when the season is almost over, or because someone at the store bought one or two items just to see whether anyone would want them... and no one did.
Look for, and try to get to, discount and outlet tack shops -- these are wonderful sources of everything from tack to boots!
Look at the signs on bulletin boards at tack shops and barns -- this is how many individuals advertise the clothing that they no longer need/want/fit into. Put up your OWN signs saying what you are looking for and how you can be reached.
Check the local papers -- local, regional, daily papers, weekly tabloids, and any horse-related local or regional publications. You may find what you're looking for.
Look online -- there are tack shops and individuals advertising on-sale items.
If you are lucky enough to know how to sew well, or if you know someone else who sews well and can be bribed, you can buy patterns and fabric and SEW new jackets and breeches.
Start looking NOW, look everywhere, and take your time. You can dress yourself from neck to foot with used or discounted stocks, shirts, coats, breeches, and boots. But I say "from NECK to foot" because your helmet should be NEW, it should meet ASTM/SEI standards. If you can only afford ONE new item, or one item at all, that item should be your helmet.
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