Text and photos by Alana Harrison
Horse & Rider's band of insiders cruised this past season's biggest, hottest shows, not only to watch the action in the show pen, but also to check out the latest show fashions on the proverbial horse-show catwalk.
Just when we thought those show blouses couldn't get any more bling-ified, it seems bling is here to stay (for now)--and the bigger, brighter and bolder the bling--the better. And while sleek and sophisticated black-and-white blouses in dramatic geometric patterns are a sophisticated and elegant mainstay in the show arena, high-fidelity color--and lots of it--is today's uber-hot show-ring trend.
The hottest hue on the color wheel? Purple, it seems, is making mega waves. Bright candy-grape, amethyst, lavender, lilac, wisteria, plum. all equally majestic. And we're not talking only blouses in this shade of royalty--look for purple chaps and boots to match.
While purple tones may currently reign supreme, their equally bright and energetic counterparts are just as cherished. Candy-apple red (with black details--hot, hot, hot), flamingo pink, brilliant corals, fuchsia, raspberry, indigo, turquoise-and-chocolate combos, sapphire, champagne-gold glitter, tangerine, jade, lime, camo-green, emerald, teal, lemon. just spin the color wheel. And color isn't just for the kiddos, tweens, and teens. The more mature competitors are equally spicing it up.
Other fab trends we spotted? Tops worn as jackets, nipped and shaped at the waist vs. the tired tucked-in look. Dramatic details, such as French cuffs and collars bejeweled with Swarovski crystals and glitzy sequins. Open necklines to better display a piece of coordinated jewelry. Layers upon layers of thick embellishments on jackets and blouses, from colored-suede and satin cutouts to crystals, sequins, beading--you name it!
And, recall those purple chaps? While black and brown chaps are always a solid investment to go with almost any blouse, we saw chaps in nearly every color cited above. Jackets and blouses with geometric and floral patterns, paired with those matching or complimentary-colored chaps--it's a veritable candy bowl of color.
The final touches: Don't forget to give your hair and fingernails some bling-y details. Try three different colored ribbons (based on your ensemble's color scheme); tie together as one small bow to give you locks a lil' hue. And, nails? OMG. (As someone who proudly displays her nubs, better with which to ride, open soda cans, type, apply contacts, and a multitude of additional excuses, I was most astounded by this trend.) Gals are getting their acrylic fingernails painted to match their show outfits; e.g., if you're sporting bright grape with Swarovski-diamond details, you should get your nails painted in a matching grape shade. Then add diamond-like sequins, evenly distributed around the rest of your nail. Hmm. wonder if judges' give bonus points for those? I jest, of course.
We hope these gals of glitterati provide you with inspiration for this upcoming season's show scene. But, as you peruse these works of art, keep in mind that these competitors are in the upper-echelon of showdom--the equivalent of New York's fashion-week runways. We've all felt our wallets lighten this past year, and most of us can't afford to drop mega bucks on a single fashion item. Yet, dig deep and put on your creative hat. Buy less-expensive basics and embellish them on your own. If your seamstress skills are lacking, beg mom, grandma, aunt, or friend and barter your way to better bling. Enjoy!
Editor's note: I, personally have two favorites out of this group, which I'll share with you on my On Staff at Horse & Rider blog. Please share your faves with us! We'd love to know what you think is hot, and what's not. Make a post on our blog, sharing your favorite show fashion from this slideshow, and we'll tally up the winning ensemble.
For more on show fashions, including plus-size show-wear, Western hats, show-fashion basics, boots, and bargain buys, see the following articles from previous H&R issues: "The Curve Ahead," April 2006; "Show Hats, A to Z," December 2006; "Show Wardrobe ABC's," April 2007; "Boot Bonanza!" November 2007; "Buywise: Catalog Couture," February 2008; and "Bargains Galore," October 2008. You can order back issues by calling 877-717-8928.