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Fashion Transition from Youth to Amateur – with Holly Taylor Designs & Amateur Exhibitor Lauren Graves

Making the transition from 13 & Under to 14-18 or 14-18 to amateur can be intimidating – new people to compete against, new schedules, and even new clothes. Fashion is just one of the many elements to consider when changing divisions. Holly Taylor, the owner of Holly Taylor Designs, and Lauren Graves, a recently graduated to the amateur division exhibitor, provide some insight on the transition. 

“Being an amateur has taken some time to get used to, but for the most part, has been a very positive experience,” Graves said. “When you are a youth, you get to know the other competitors very well, so joining a new division with older and more experienced adults, I have had my growing pains. I can, however, take many positives from this year.”

While changing divisions can be difficult, these fashion tips from Graves and Taylor can help you decide what to wear in the show ring to ensure you look the part.

Following Trends

Just like any other industry, fashion trends come and go in the horse show industry. 

“I believe fashion mostly goes in trends for both youth and amateurs. Recently, it has become popular to wear shirts instead of all the bling, so I have seen many people in both divisions follow the same trends,” Graves said. “It depends on the person and what they prefer.”

Staying on top of trends and making sure your show clothes are up-to-date is vital for standing out in both show rings. But, trends can fade away fast.

“Keep with the traditional and don’t go super-trendy. Because trends go out, (especially) if they need to resell it,” Taylor stresses. “Like the bottom fringe on the riding jackets, people don’t want that anymore.”

Finding Well-Rounded Outfits

While some fashion rules vary from division to division, it is also an option to find clothes that translate well into any division. Graves has already done this.

“My favorite outfit is my trail jacket,” she said. “Paula’s Place made it for me a few years back, and it is the only trail jacket I will ever use at big horse shows.”

Finding versatile clothes is an excellent option for a smooth transition.

Picking Your Base and Colors

One of the essential parts of any show outfit is the base color. Taylor emphasized. This was the most significant fashion difference between 13 & Under and other divisions. 

“The 14-18 and amateurs are still going black base, but a little bit more symmetrical,” Taylor said. “The 13 & Under still like their pinks and stuff like that, but you have to change that when you go into the older age groups. So, like blues and grays — grays have been popular. You need to go into a black base. And the colors are more subdued.”

But, as mentioned, trends come and go, and a current trend that Taylor pointed out was bright colors. “People are starting to like more colors, which is great,” Holly adds.

While transitioning into other divisions, feel free to play with different colors on top while keeping a black base. 

Choosing a Style

Today, there are so many styles of shirts to choose from. Whether you go with a vest, day shirt, jacket or bolero can depend on your division. 

“I would say the boleros are probably the most popular thing in youth that aren’t as popular in the amateur,” Taylor revealed. “The youth like the ability to maybe have a day shirt, but then also have a horsemanship shirt with that vest. The amateurs usually want a full vest. But the youth like boleros. They’re still really popular.”

Taylor pointed out one popular trend was day shirts, which provide a budget-friendly alternative to a riding jacket or horsemanship shirt.

The amateurs, they all want day shirts, where the youth, they don’t want them,” Taylor said. “I don’t have too many youth who do day shirts. The amateurs, day shirts are super, super popular. Just the day shirts with the leather collar and cuff have been super popular with the amateurs.” 

By following these tips, you can be successful in choosing new outfits for a new division. The switch from 13 & Under to 14-18 or 14-18 to amateur is an exciting and fun transition, so have fun with it. 

“Picking out outfits can be time-consuming,” Graves said. “But I believe taking time to pick out the outfit that best suits you and your horse is essential.” 

About the Author – Olivia Bradish has been an equestrian for 13 years. She attends the University of Michigan and works for The Michigan Daily. Olivia shows the all-around events with her horse, CSR Roan Bar Penny, known around the barn as London. They enjoy showing in the showmanship, horsemanship, equitation, and trail.