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Equitation Suit Colors

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Informal saddle suits should be of a conservative, preferably dark color which appears to be solid. Small pinstripes or herringbone-type patterns are acceptable as long as the material appears from a distance to be of a solid nature. According to the USEF Rule Book, accessories are to be the same color as the suit itself. Taken literally this would mean that derbies, boots, ties, vests and gloves must all match. However, at this time the equitation division is tolerant of and will allow contrasting derbies, ties, boots, vest and gloves, but the key word to remember when considering them is conservative. An emerald green or fire-engine red derby may match your vest, but is definitely not conservative and should be avoided.

This also applies to contrasting gloves as well as derbies. A safe rule of thumb to follow is that if a contrasting derby is worn, it should be of the same color family as the riding habit but may be several shades lighter or darker. It is also reasonable to assume that if you have doubts as to whether a particular color of fabric is conservative, then others will probably have the same doubts and you would be wise to choose something else. Day coats are not permitted.

Equitation classes are classes where elegance and class are the highest priority. When shopping for suits another factor to keep in mind is the size and age of the rider. Light colors are suitable only for younger riders (under age 18). Also the color of the suit varies by the precision of the rider. Although every level of exhibitor can wear a dark suit, beginners should not stray from black, brown or navy with a matching derby. Extremely advanced riders can often wear lighter colors that will call attention to the quietness of their hands, legs and feet.

The color combination chosen for each outfit can be the most important aspect of the suit. Remember to keep your look understated. Exhibitors need to express themselves, but they can do it in a conservative style. These all give the look of professionalism. While your classic suits of navy blue, black or charcoal gray will always be in fashion (and are actually more favorable right now); brown suits are also coming back into fashion. This hue can be quite elegant and beautiful on a woman and really complement her style and skin tone. Shirts, vests and ties are following street fashion and picking up a lot of bold colors and it is acceptable and attractive to have a tastefully colored or patterned vest that complements the suit color. The tie is the crucial element that pulls together your entire suit and offers color. The entire look of a suit can be changed just by switching the tie, so be careful what you select and be sure to give it a lot of thought.

Formal attire is even more conservative and is only allowed after 6:00 pm. It is recommended but not mandatory that tuxedos be worn in the evening, so judges should not penalize riders who do not wear them. There is no allowance in formal attire for contrasting colors, with one exception made for gloves. This means the collar and lapels must be of the same color as the jacket and the top hat must match the entire ensemble. White or black tie may be worn, but no contrasting tie/cummerbund sets. Also, either black or white gloves are proper - but keep in mind that white gloves draw attention to the hands so white gloves are only for riders with the quietest of hands (and a horse with a steady headset and smooth gaits). If your hands move around faster than you type, stick with darker gloves la navy or black.

Derbies and Top Hats should match the suit and should be very well shaped. Remember, this is what frames your face! And if you are wearing a navy suit don't wear a black derby, and vice versa.  If your suit is a hard to find derby color then match the derby to your boots and gloves, or get one custom dyed.

Coat Lining should ALWAYS match your coat as closely as possible. Contrasting linings are very distracting to the eye, out of fashion, can make the rider look bouncy or less fluid (having a white flag flapping around on your hip tends to make you look much less smooth!) and will kill the resale value of your suit.

Current Equitation Fashion

Informal Colors:  Blues, Navy, Browns, Tans, Black, and Grays are the colors you will most often see in the show ring today.  But dark green and dark burgundy are allowed. Remember shirts are next to your face so choose something that complements your skin tone such as warm tones and cool tones. 


To find out if you are a warm or a cool check out this website:

Am I Warm or Cool? A Guide to Determining Your Skin Tone

Formal Colors: Dark blue/Navy and black are the colors you will most often see in the show ring today but dark grey and dark brown are also allowed. For formal shirts you should stick with Bright Crisp White if you have cool skin tones and Ivory if you have warm skin tones. Make sure gloves match suit unless you are wearing white which should be wedding white. If white vest and tie combo are worn they should match the color of shirt. If you wear black/navy vest and tie combo they must match gloves.