Dressage is a sport that boasts a long and proud tradition. Although points aren’t awarded for appearance, how both the rider and their horse present themselves is considered very important. The clothing riders may wear is governed by strict sets of rules and conventions, and choosing garments that are elegant yet conservative can ensure you make the right impression.

So, once you have bought the right horse for you and you’re ready to start train together, it’s time to consider the dressage style essentials

1. Hats

At one time, top hats would have been worn by riders in competition, but since 2012 safety helmets have been compulsory. Some do not have a 3-point strap, which looks more elegant, but always check with competition organizers are they may have rules which make a strap compulsory. In the end, safety should be your priority

2. Jackets

A short, form-fitting jacket in a dark color will create an elegant silhouette and show off your posture of the horse to the greatest effect. The number of buttons doesn’t matter, it is the fit that counts. Certain accents such as suede collars and pocket flaps, or even crystal detailing on the pockets, can allow you to express your individuality. However remember that in the dressage arena less is more, so keep these touches subtle and tasteful.

3. Shirts

When the temperature and humidity levels are high, you may be allowed to ride without a jacket, which will certainly be more comfortable for you. Although you can select various styles and colors to wear under your jacket, at the moment you take it off, it’s essential that you have on a pristine white shirt, immaculately ironed and wrinkle-free. That’s why it’s advisable to leave the novelty designs behind and focus on beautiful tailoring and high-quality cotton

4. Stock and stock pins

A stock tie is a term used for a scarf worn around a rider’s neck in dressage, and the stock pin is a decorative item used to fasten it. Tradition dictates that it is white, so ensure that it is immaculately clean (especially if you’ve been grooming your horse, check that it hasn’t been covered in dust). Stock pins come in various designs and are typically made of silver or other metal.

5. Breeches

White breeches or jodhpurs are the most typical choice, although light creams and beiges are allowed: choose whichever color looks best with your jacket. Fabrics such as microfibres, are form-fitting but allow freedom of movement, create a clean line, and are incredibly comfortable. If possible, choose styles with belt loops as this can add a finishing touch to your outfit, especially once you remove your jacket. Choose a conservative style belt in natural leather for a refined look.

6. Boots

Women’s English riding boots are an essential part of any dressage outfit, and play a key role in elongating the look of the rider’s legs. As they reach to the knee they also protect the rider’s leg from rubbing against the saddle parts. As black is the preferred color, why not consider high-gloss patent leather calves to add drama and save you from hours of shining them.

7. Underwear

Only two things need to be said here. A good fitting sports bra will help your jacket to hug your figure and create an elegant line. It will also minimize any distracting ‘bounce’ and help you feel comfortable as you ride. The second thing is – ensure you have no VPL, which will look anything but elegant as you walk through the arena.

8. Hairstyle

Just as your horse is immaculately groomed and plaited, so should you be! Ensure that your hair is elegantly knotted and fits neatly under your helmet. The dressage arena is no place for ponytails or untamed flowing locks- apart from the fact that they look out of place, they can also be dangerous in case of a fall from the horse.

9. Jewelry

Jewelry is permitted in dressage competitions, but in keeping with the understated elegance of the rest of the dress code, less is more. Simple gold or pearl earrings can add the finishing touch to your look, but anything too eye-catching or distracting is simply not appropriate.

10. Competition numbers

In competitions, you’ll need to wear a large competition number on your back. Always be prepared and bring some elastic with you, so you can create unobtrusive fastenings. You’ll want it to rest securely against your body, without ruining the clean lines of your outfit.