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A Guide to Buying Used High-End Show Clothing

Singer Pharrell Williams once said, “Fashion has to reflect who you are, what you feel at the moment, and where you are going.” Horse show fashion can also be a reflection of how you want to express yourself in the show pen. Your clothes reflect your personality and emit confidence. While most exhibitors love the sparkly jackets and thousands of crystals, most also do not like the price tag.

It may seem like a daunting task, but it is possible to find high-end show clothes without the high-end price tag.

The trick? Shop for used pieces. Nowadays, exhibitors have an abundance of resources and many beautiful options.

We asked leading show clothing experts in the industry about their tips and tricks to buying used high-end clothing.

Quality and Condition

These are a couple of the deciding factors when purchasing used garments. You cannot fake high quality – cheaply made items look cheap in the pen too. This means the quality of fit, crystals, and material. The condition also plays a vital role in the decision process.

Depending on the situation, many small issues can be easily fixed. This would be instances such as some missing crystals, a few more alterations, or a trip to the dry cleaner. Buying used high-end clothing gives you a whole world of options and style choices.

Wendy Brown from Show Me Again adds, “Another huge benefit to buying used that our clients enjoy is the ability to obtain one-of-a-kind, custom-made outfits by a designer that may not have been possible to purchase otherwise due to the designer’s waitlist or custom limitations.”

Show Me Again offers both pre-owned and new pieces from designers such as Silver Lining, Diane Olsen, and Nancy Rose.


This is often the main reason exhibitors choose to purchase used items. Custom fit, Swarovski crystals, and high-end designers are lovely, but often not affordable to buy brand new. Usually, you can find a $5,000 showmanship jacket used for half the price. This allows you to put that money towards vet bills, entry fees, advertising, etc.

Before looking to buy a jacket, outfit, or shirt, make sure you set a price point for yourself. You will also have to account for any repairs or alterations needed. Taylor Gumz of LuxLooks reflects on the most critical aspect of buying used, “We all want to receive the most out of our investment but unfortunately, the item needs to be priced accordingly. It’s important to do your research to stick to your price point.”

LuxLooks offers high end, stylish clothing from seventeen different designers. The best way to maximize your investment in show clothing is by sticking to your budget. Do not be afraid to consult a professional on your price range; they will help you find the perfect garment.

Consignment options

Consignment is an excellent alternative to buying new clothes. You must account for condition, color, and exact measurements. Before starting the search, have a clear idea of what you are looking for. Taylor Gumz says, “Consignment is a great avenue to find an outfit with a similar look and style for a fraction of the price. Things to remember while shopping are to look at the number of repairs needed (stones, cleaning, etc.), the resale possibly, if it complements you and your horse and lastly, if it is well fitting.”

A professional, tailored fit is key to any polished show ring style. Make sure the garment can be altered within the seam allowance. Many clothing stores guarantee fit and offer to do alterations. Consignment is another excellent option for exhibitors looking to sell their old clothes before starting the search for something new.

Show Me Again offers consignment options, “We accept a wide variety of designer labels in all price ranges and our audience expands to several different breeds and disciplines. “

Taking care of your items

Elizabeth Spike Brewer of Boo Yah Custom Clothing suggests, “Always store items in a garment bag when not in use.  We suggest that after a long show, if your hunt coat has gotten damp from sweat or being rained on or dusty from a dirty pen, let it air dry thoroughly before zipping up in your garment bag. When they do get damp or dirty or just if they have not been cleaned lately, we suggest taking them to the dry cleaner.”

This is extremely important when preserving your quality show clothes. Boo Yah offers hunt coats, hunt shirts, ladies and children’s blouses, and men’s shirts. Brewer also adds, “For hunt shirts or blouses, the worst thing we can do is crumple them up and throw them on the floor or in the bottom of our garment bags. Hang them on a hanger and then have them dry cleaned (including your collars) after most shows.”

Online deals

Many online sites serve as an easy, modern connection between buyer and seller. Frequently, you can find a fantastic jacket for an even more wonderful price tag. There are hundreds of Facebook groups like “Show Clothes on a Budget,” “High-end show clothing,” and “New to You Show Clothing” that allow this option to be possible.

While buying online is beneficial in many ways, there are also cautionary aspects you should keep in mind. Brown cautions, “I would encourage people to research the history of the seller, the reviews and recommendations on the company’s Facebook page to see other customer’s experiences and the return policy, if any. Take note if the seller doesn’t allow customers to review their experiences. It can be scary to pay a huge amount of money with no recourse if the item does not arrive as expected, does not fit, or does not arrive at all.”

Make sure you compare items, prices, and style before purchasing. Also, be sure the seller is reputable and responsible before spending your hard-earned money on a used high-end garment.

Questions to ask a seller

Asking questions is very beneficial when you start the search for a new show clothing item. It is crucial that you have all the possible information to make a well-educated decision.

Here are some things to ask and keep in mind:
Does the jacket have any rips, discoloration, or tears?
What are the exact measurements? (Waist, bust, sleeve, etc.)
Is there room in the seams for the necessary alterations?
Do you have a return policy?
Do you have pictures of the jacket in the show pen?

Do your research

Just like a project at school or work, research for a used garment is crucial. Make sure you compare the quality, price, and designer to others you are considering. Ask lots of questions about the piece and make sure it is the right one for you and your price point.

Brewer recommends, “Be realistic on your budget and search items that have lots of current quality pictures showing the condition of the item now. If someone has pictures from the outfit from three years ago when they were wearing it, chances are it looks different now, so always ask for current quality pictures and if it has any blemishes, rips, tears and if it has been altered.”

About the Author: Cat Guenther is a devout equestrian and a senior at the Academy of the Sacred Heart. She has been riding horses for almost nine years and has loved every minute of it. Cat started and runs her successful show clothing business, Behind the Bit Show Clothing. Her favorite classes are horsemanship, showmanship, and trail. She plans to attend Michigan State University in the future to study veterinary medicine and possibly also business. Cat is excited to show the all-around classes in 2019 with Zippos Kat Man Do aka Teddy.