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Simply Stunning: The Simplicity Trend in Show Clothing


Who doesn’t love bling? The sparkle, intricate designs, and thousands of crystals that illuminate show clothing from every angle. Shine never goes out of style. However, a new hot-topic fashion has emerged in the rings at major shows – the “simple” trend.

This fashion movement incorporates new fabrics, fewer crystals, and innovative styles. Some exhibitors have recently opted for a custom satin shirt instead of the heavily beaded garments for many reasons, including cost and comfort. Everything from button-ups to striped day shirts has appeared in show pens across the world and the trend is legitimately sweeping the nation.

How did this trend start? What does “simple” really mean? How will these styles progress in the future? We talked to many high-end show clothing influencers in the industry, including Boo Yah Custom Clothing, Show Me Again, Closet Space, On Pattern Designs, and Lux Looks.

Roots of Simplicity

The roots of the trend rest in the beauty of the basics. The expression “less is more” does not go unnoticed in the show pen. Elizabeth Spike Brewer of Boo Yah Custom Clothing agrees, “A quality made blouse that is tailored to your body type, paired with a well-fitting pair of chaps or pants works for most western arenas. In the hunt seat, a classic black or navy coats will never go out of style.”

Black and navy hunt coats serve as a perfect example of this “never go out of style” mantra. It is also essential to think about other basics, such as comfort. Wendy Brown of Show Me Again states, “It’s refreshing to get away from the heaviness of highly embellished jackets for the sheer comfort, weight, and movability, especially in the warmer summer months.”

Simple button-ups or light all day shirts allow exhibitors to experience comfort and a unique style.

One cannot forget the most crucial aspect of any outfit – the fit. Beckie Peskin of On Pattern Designs comments, “It is all about the fit. Think about your body and what will flatter it.  For instance, if you have a short torso, it’s best to keep your shirt a similar color to your chaps.  If you don’t have a long neck, try to get a bit lower collar.” Whether you are wearing a shirt with five or five thousand crystals, a perfect fit is essential.

The Current Trends

Several “simple” trends have recently emerged. From striped shirts to button-ups, the possibilities are endless. All day shirts have swept show pens across the nation.

Exhibitors love stripes and unique patterns. Some of these shirts have crystals along with the collars or a small amount on the shirts themselves.

Trista Mallow, co-owner of Closet Space states, “Right now we love the lines and stripes on the trending ‘all day’ shirts. They look great for horsemanship or for pairing under a vest, it gives an entirely different look to an outfit and is a fun way to change it up.” All day shirts are very versatile on their own or under vests.

Wendy agrees, “My favorite trend right now is striped, fitted shirts. They are flattering, budget-friendly, and fun.”

Another exhibitor favorite is the classic button-up shirt. Beckie Peskin of On Pattern Designs says, “Clean, well-fitted button-ups are so versatile and elegant – but that is only if they fit well. A perfect fit gives the exhibitor an extremely professional appearance in the pen.”

The main goal of horse show fashion is to present a professional, confident appearance. These trends allow exhibitors to shine.

Budget-Friendly Style

A significant factor when shopping for clothing is cost and the trend of simplicity offers significantly more options to everyday exhibitors. For example; instead of spending thousands of dollars on a heavily adorned horsemanship shirt, an exhibitor can opt for a button-up shirt.

Mallow of Closet Space states, “A classic button-up or all day shirt costs significantly less than elaborate bling top. Second, being that sometimes, less is more, in a pen full of bling, a well-fitted button-up can stand out. And lastly, the fact that it is far easier to take a button up to the dry cleaner versus hand washing/spot cleaning an ornate blinged top.”

Button up or all day shirts make a statement of their own in the pen. They are also much cheaper to have professionally cleaned between shows. This trend allows exhibitors on a budget to show and stay in style at the same time.

Elizabeth Spike-Brewer agrees, “It is a trend that I think will stay around and get even more popular in the years to come. Many folks within the equine community do not have a surplus in their expendable budget, so saving money any way they can influences their fashion choices.”

Perks of Keeping it Simple

Simple does not mean boring or unfashionable. There are many perks to this trend. Often, exhibitors can add more self-expression through simple styles. This is true for both English and Western fashion.

Elizabeth suggests, “If you want to be simple, yet unique and still classy, add white piping to your hunt coat collar paired with a white shirt. You’ve created a unique, classic, yet simple look that is acceptable in any arena.” Something as simple as piping on a hunt coat can give exhibitors that extra “flare” in the show pen.

Mallow adds, “Using textured fabrics and patterns on a fitted button-up along the collar and cuffs is an excellent way to make it your own, but still stay classy and elegant. Tying in a custom pad that matches your fitted shirt will polish off your look and give you the finishing touch.” Patterns and unique designs on fitted button-ups have become a significant trend in the pen.

Adding a vibrant, matching pad gives exhibitors a professional finish and the “simple” look allows an individual to express their sense of style.

Future of Fashion

The future of horse show fashion has one thing that is known for sure; if you are confident in your outfit, you are confident in the show pen. The trend of simplicity looks like it is here to stay.

Beckie states, “I think designers will keep playing with fabrics, minor embellishments, and we will continue to see more hybrids.  Meaning something a little more between a plain button down and a more traditional horsemanship shirt. I would love to see them starting to be paired with more simple vests too.”

The simple trend is projected to stay around. Like any other style, patterns and designs evolve over time. Similarly, the need for bling will also stick to show pen fashion. Taylor Gumz of Lux Looks says, “Like everything, western show clothes change and evolve. The want for bling will always be there, whether the garment has 300 crystals or 3,000.”


About the Author: Cat Guenther is a devout equestrian and an incoming freshman at Michigan State University. She shows the all-around classes with her horse, Zippos Kat Man Do aka Teddy. She has been riding horses for almost nine years and has loved every minute. 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 study veterinary medicine and possibly also business.

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