Even if money is an issue off the rack suits (coat, pants and vests) are
not the best option. The best option is to find a used custom made suit in your price range. This is very possible if you know where to look. There are also custom habit makers that have discount
fabrics for new suits that are close to used suit prices.
How to Find a Quality Used Suit
Fabric Quality and Colors: You want to find fabric that feels good to the touch and looks
rich in color and has some life in the fabric.
Fit: Make sure the pants are long enough and have enough fabric to let out. Also check the sleeves to
make sure the sleeves can be lengthened if needed. The waist should fit and the collar should hug your neck. See the article
on suit fitting for further information.
What to Look for in Off the Rack Suits
Well constructed, correctly shaped, and quality looking off the rack suits are RARE. Keep that
in mind if you will be showing against other rider's in well made suits with higher quality fabric. Off the rack suits
will also need to be tailored by a professional to improve the fit. Off the rack suits also can not be as well fitting
as a custom suit because any imperfection is easily seen because of the weave and cut of the fabric. There are
ways to improve the look of an off the rack suit but it will never look as nice or sharp as a custom suit. Off the rack
suits are fine for 4h and open shows but turn out and fit should always be a priority.
Informal: Make sure the lapels are notched and have some width (at least 3 inches at widest part). Look
at the shoulders and make sure the shoulders are square enough. Good off the rack vests are hard to find. They are usually
too short. It would be best to go for a used custom vest or a new custom vest.
Colors and Fit: You’ll want to stick to darker colors since off the rack fabrics aren’t as
high quality as custom. Dark colors will look more expensive than lighter colors. Make sure you measure correctly since off
the rack suits don’t have any let out in the shoulders. Make sure the coat, pants and sleeves are long enough. The waist
should fit and the collar should hug your neck. The torso of the coat (where the lapel sits) should not pucker away from the
body, pull the sleeve or back fabric or be uncomfortable in any way. You can go up a size for the length and get the looseness
taken in by a saddle suit tailor. Also some off the rack suits pant’s bells are too wide, commonly shapeless and pointed
at the bottom and will need to be taken in for reshaping.
Formal: Make sure the lapels and pant stripes are the same color of suit not lighter. For a formal make
sure the fabric has some sheen for some life in the fabric. It will not be such a contrast with the lapels on the coat and
shadow stripe on the pants.
Colors and Fit: Stick with Navy and Black since Brown off the rack suits can look cheap because they usually
are not as richly colored which will make them look lighter and for a formal you want very dark colors. Same as above for