“Sticking with a color base, such as black, is a time-tested practice because it’s so easy to match boots, pants, and hats without spending money on custom accessories,” says Wendy Brown of Show Me Again.

The Consignment Route: Tips on Putting Together a Winning Outfit on a Budget

Finding the perfect show outfit can be difficult, especially if you are on a budget. As many exhibitors know, the horse show industry can be challenging when it comes to being budget friendly. Purchasing gorgeous and unique showpieces without spending thousands of dollars seems impossible, but it can be done.

Consignment stores offer gently used, top notch show clothing that will fit everyone’s budget range. GoHorseShow recently spoke with four clothing consignment stores and received advice on having a budget when picking out the perfect outfit and still confidently rocking the show pen.

The Dreaded Budget

The word “budget” is not necessarily a bad thing. Not everyone can afford a $4,000 plus show outfit every year, and that is completely fine. Jessica Wolf Hart of East Coast Show Apparel believes there is nothing wrong with having a budget.

“It’s okay to have a budget, this is an expensive hobby,” she said. “I think people are afraid of the word budget. They feel like they have to compare themselves to someone else when they don’t have to. Be yourself and work with what you have. You can find an outfit that meets your taste without spending your whole paycheck on one piece.”

When shopping, it can be easy to lose track of a budget and fall in love with an outfit. Hart recommends shopping in the correct price range to avoid spending more than your budget allows.

“Stay within your budget,” she said. “If you have $800 to spend, don’t be shopping in the $2,000-3,000 price range.”

Trista Mallow (pictured left with her business partner Keri Collins) of Closet Space agrees that sticking with a budget can be hard, but she knows it is manageable.

“It is very easy to stray from your budget,” she said. “Find someone who is willing to work with your budget. Not everyone is budget friendly. The best thing to do is to shop around. Don’t just go to one venue and feel like you have to buy something. Try on as many pieces as you can. That’s the only way to find out what you like and what looks best on your body.”

The Consignment Process

Every consignment business is going to be run a little different. Each store will have their own process, but the logistics are the same across the board. The consignment process consists of a consignor bringing the store their clothing piece or sending them a picture along with the original price paid for said outfit. The consignment business will then decide if they are able to sell the piece for the consignor and at what price it should be marketed. Hart works hard to make the process as smooth as possible for her clients.

“We try to connect customers however they feel comfortable interacting and shopping,” she said. “Everybody kind of likes to shop differently. We try to offer different avenues for people to shop where they feel most comfortable.”

Consignment sales can also be made online. Many stores in the industry have an online presence. Taylor Gumz, of Lux Looks (pictured right), has a steady customer base online and thinks it’s a great route to take.

“In today’s world, online sales are so strong,” she said. “It’s kind of the convenience factor. I’m guilty of it too because I would rather shop at home. With our online site, we do offer returns, so if a piece doesn’t fit, you’re not stuck with it.”

Wendy Brown, of Show Me Again, agrees having an online option is beneficial to customers.

“We have an enormous following on our website,” she said. “We ship daily from all over the world and since we attend a large variety of different breeds and disciplines of horse shows in addition to our website, we give your clothing the most exposure possible and sell items in all price ranges and styles.”

The Ever-Changing Show Industry Trends

Just like the fashion industry, the horse show industry has trends that cycle throughout the years. Whether it be the shape of a hat or adding fringe to a western pleasure jacket, changes are always occurring. Brown (pictured left) expresses the importance of keeping aware of trends by utilizing social media and traveling to shows.

“With the wide reach of online resources such as digital magazines like GoMag, social media, and websites, it’s easy to keep up with trends; in addition, my staff and I keep apprised of the trends by staying connected in our versatile roles within the industry that involve writing fashion articles, attending and exhibiting at shows, and more,” she said. “Stay connected to your favorite designers by social media, and build resources for yourself so you know where to turn, and what to look for when you’re ready to purchase.”

Every rider wants to catch the judge’s eye when they come into the show pen and leave a good impression. Gumz strives to give each customer their own look that will make them shine.

“The best way to keep up with trends is to really keep an open mind,” she said. “Everyone wants to have that unique look but doesn’t want to be the sore thumb sticking out. You want to be creative, but not too out-of-the-box. Every designer has their mark and what they are good at. I think it’s best to find what you want to accent and mask and go from there to help me decide which designer works best for each customer.”

Choosing the Right Outfit

There are many little tricks that can pull a piece together and make a pretty picture. Brown and Gumz both recommend staying consistent and simple with color, while still being unique with your look.

“Sticking with a color base, such as black, is a time-tested practice because it’s so easy to match boots, pants, and hats without spending money on custom accessories,” Brown said. “It’s important for the rider to be open to adding colors to mix with black to prevent ‘disappearing’ in the show pen.”

“For showmanship, I would recommend getting the jacket and pants from the same designer just because they have the same material and color to match, especially if it isn’t black,” Gumz said. “Be cautious when you are mixing colors.”

The Benefits of Consignment

Not only are consignment clothes cheaper, you can also make some profit from your outfit by sending it back to a consignment store when you are ready for a new piece. Mallow believes consignment shopping is especially beneficial for youth parents.

“Youth kids are always outgrowing their outfits so it’s a great avenue for parents,” she said. “You’re lucky if you can get a show season out of one piece. Consignment is a great opportunity to get a piece at a more reasonable price and then resell it. You’re not losing a ton of money on it. Be sure to take care of your outfits so we can resell it.”

All four of these consignment shops believe buying an outfit through consignment is great because it gives exhibitors the opportunity to wear something they might not be able to afford if it was brand new. Consignment stores are budget friendly and have a great selection to offer. Stop by a booth at your next horse show and see what they are all about.


About the Author: GoHorseShow writer, Courtney Hall is a senior pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in agricultural communications at Missouri State University. Upon graduation this year, she will further her education as a graduate assistant for MSU conducting research in the ag communications industry. She started showing the APHA all around circuit as a youth and continues today as an amateur.