When I worked at a large company I used to wear power jackets to certain meetings. I had one particular long tailored coat that I loved because it made me look slimmer, taller, elegant, and as though I knew what I was doing – or so I thought. I walked and talked with confidence when I wore that jacket. I had authority because of that jacket. My staff called it the POWER COAT.
Can the right clothes help us ride better? Actually, they can! Or let’s put it this way: the WRONG clothes make us ride worse by getting in the way.
Breeches that are slippery, have seams that rub in the wrong places, are too hot, too thick, cut off the circulation, compress the stomach so much that you can’t breathe or give you a stomach ache, make you feel like you are wearing diapers…I could go on and on, but when we’re wearing clothes like that, we’re distracted, uncomfortable, and irritable. At least I am!
Ideally, our breeches should feel comfortable, be functional, and make us look good. Is this holy grail of breeches possible? YES!
Now breeches are like jeans: you have to find what fits your body type and of course your budget, too. I went to the local tack store and tried on, yes, fourteen pairs and found only TWO that actually fit. Allow me to recommend a few of my favorite brands of breeches, at least for my somewhat zaftig physique (zaftig is yiddish for pleasantly ripe and round).
- Animo: made in Italy, everyone remarks on how thin and chic I look in these, so you know I never want to take them off
my body. Ah, Italian styling. Bella! The fabric repels dirt, breathes so that they are cool in the summer (much less hot than any of my others), washes easily and does not stain, non bulky because of their special articulated knee seams and Animo gripping system. No need for full seats, the knee patch gripping system grips just as well and is completely non bulky and cool looking, too! I could go on and on about these. No itchy velcro at the ankles, but nice soft nylon tubes that are long enough for the tallest rider, but scrunch up softly for short people! Even the white ones look good on me! And please, you know everyone looks terrible in white breeches unless they are tiny (I am not). Where is the minor chord in this paean of praise? (a) Availability – almost no one carries them in the USA except http://www.USAnimo.com, and they rarely have sales; http://www.doversaddlery.com carries a few styles, but mostly low-rise (b) the Rise is QUITE low on most of their styles – let the buyer beware. I prefer Nisotta and Noguarda (two of the “modified rise” styles), because otherwise I’m always feeling like my breeches are falling off, but you might feel differently (c) Cost – they are expensive: MSRP $320 and up. Good luck finding them on sale. But honestly, they’re SO worth it. Best. Breeches. Ever. Really. They do have a new pull on version that I have not yet tried (see the blue Nobit breech featured at the top of this article) – much less expensive! But fewer features and I’m not sure it’s the same fabric, so I can’t yet recommend it.
- Kentucky: I like the New York City knee patch breeches because I find full seat breeches too bulky, but their full seats are beautiful, too. I bought them at my local tack store (Carousel Saddlery in Portola Valley) for around $200. They’re not Animo, but they were significantly less money and still quite nice looking and comfortable. They’re wearing and washing beautifully, too. Other friends who have ridden in Kentuckys report that they last well and are worth the initial investment.
- FITS: If you can find the right size for you, FITS are super grippy and comfortable. There does seem to be a bit of variation in the sizing (from year to year, or possibly different manufacturing runs?), so be sure to try them on before you buy them. Over time they will stretch out a bit and get baggy in places, but they last pretty well. Mine eventually wore holes in the seat area, but I got a lot of use from them first. For grip, there’s no beating that deerskin full seat. I recommend buying them locally or from http://www.smartpak.com, since they have free shipping and returns on all sized items.
- Smartpak has many cute and stylish breeches at all price points – and free shipping and returns so you can find the
right size! I see a lot of the girls and women of all sizes at the Ranch looking good in their Piper breeches. Shipping can be a bit slow so gratification is not instantaneous, but if you can wait, you could score some nice breeches. If they work for you, they are cute, available in many colors and styles, and well priced.