Show Ring Fashions On A Budget – How To Look Like A Million Bucks Without Breaking The Bank!

YES it can be done!!!  When showing on a fashion budget you should classic styles that will last.  By that I mean don’t go for the expensive blingy trends that will be in and out like that.  Classic fashions include black and white, browns, and neutral colors that go nicely with you and your horse.  

Madelyn Reese showing My Socks R Rocking. Photo Credit: AQHA Journal
Madelyn Reese showing My Socks R Rocking. Photo Credit: AQHA Journal


Suits have been around a long time and are still in fashion.  Why?  Because they can be made to fit every body type and create clean lines.  Right now I am showing in a custom grey with light pinstripe suit that cost me $300 and I bought the undershirt and ties from Kohls.  I receive more compliments on that plain grey suit then I ever have on the blingy outfits.  So keep it simple.  If you can’t afford custom go to a department or chain store, get a suit, and have it altered.  You can pick one up for around $100-150 and altering will cost around $50.  


Number one rule – It has to hug you so that the judge can clearly see your lines.  One does not need an expensive shirt; a plain button down is all you need with a scarf.  You are probably thinking yeah right.  

I showed this past year and put over 85 points on my horse in horsemanship only wearing a plain button-down black shirt.  I have also scribed for enough judges to know that they are looking at the lines the rider is presenting to them.

Don’t get me wrong I love bling as well as the next person, but make sure the bling lines do not distract from your lines.   There are ways to buy a shirt at a lower cost and bling it yourself if you would like bling.  Blinging is not hard I have stoned almost every one of my shirts and worked for a seamstress, but is time consuming so you have to know that going in.  It takes hours to put those pretty stones on.

Natoshia Kelly showing Cookies Only. Photo Credit: KC Montgomery
Natoshia Kelly showing Cookies Only. Photo Credit: KC Montgomery

Trail/Western Riding/Western Pleasure/Ranch Riding/Reining

Plain button down shirts are the way to go on a fashion budget here as well.  The AQHA World Show this year was full of them and the “hot” color was TEAL.  It looked great on men, women, and the horses.  Just make sure that it fits you well and free from wrinkles.  You can have it dry cleaned or dry clean it yourself at home.  There are so many great inexpressive options here.


Boots can be very trendy from round toe to square toe.  You don’t have to follow the trend.  Most judges pet peeves when it comes to boots are they NOT CLEANED and POLISHED.  Just make sure you take the time to have that completed prior to entering the show ring.


You can go all over the map here as well, but if you want them to last you 15 years like mine have go for top grain leather.


There is one thing that you should never go cheap on and that is a HAT.  It is really obvious if you are not wearing a properly shaped hat and that is why you should not go cheap.  Hats of higher Xs are made of more beaver pelts and hold their shape longer.  The lower end hats just don’t hold their shape for long periods of time.  

For example if you buy a $100 hat and you have to have shaped at every show and lets say you show at 10 shows for an average shaping at $25 that’s an additional $250 you just spent on the $100 hat.  

Make sure you buy a hat of at least 50x or higher it will last you a show season as long as it is properly stored and kept in a condition-controlled environment when you are not showing.  Remember they use heat to shape the hat and heat will also quickly unshaped the hat.
Overall you want an outfit that fits and has been tailored to you.  You want to create lines that are not distracting and tasteful.  And remember to keep your choice classic, as they will last you years in the show pen.

Written By, Natoshia Kelly.  Share this on Facebook if you love classic show ring fashions!

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