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Shopping For Saddle Suits

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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. 

Remember when suit shopping to refer to the How Riding Habits Should Fit , Equitation Suit Colors and The Well Dressed Equestrian articles to stay on the correct path to find the right suit for you.

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 fit.