Over the past fifteen years, we've learned a thing or two about how to save time and money when it comes to achieving a custom saddle seat look on a budget. If you're purchasing show clothes from a consignment shop, it's likely that you're going to need some alterations. Or, maybe you've just pulled your show clothes out of the closet only to find that something doesn't fit quite right anymore. Whether you just have to make it through one class, or if you need your clothes to last you an entire show season, these tips are lifesavers for making the most out of any wardrobe situation.
Collar causing problems?
There's almost nothing more irritating than a shirt collar that's just a little bit too snug. If you find yourself gasping for air when you button your show shirt, try investing in a button extender. Once you put your tie on over it, you'll never know it's there. If you're feeling crafty and happen to have a swatch of your shirt fabric, you can also make one of these yourself by taking a rectangular piece of fabric and putting a button hole on one side and a button on the other. On the other hand, if your shirt collar is too big, it can be taken in by placing a new seam down the back.
Riding with nice posture and your shoulders back isn't just for equitation riders! If your suit jacket is an older style, or wasn't custom made for you, the shoulders may not fit quite right. Rather than spending hundreds of dollars on professional alterations, you can fix this yourself without having to know a thing about tailoring! Simply buy a pair of shoulder pads from a fabric store and pin/sew them directly into the lining of your coat to create a more robust look. Although the shoulder pads will be visible when your coat is on the hanger, once you're wearing it, you'd never know they were there. Depending on what look you're trying to achieve, you can either put them in the upper shoulder area for a little more support, or you can add them directly behind your shoulder blades to emphasize your posture.
No one likes to trying to ride with a headache caused by a derby that's too tight. Sometimes, saddle seat clothiers are able to steam your hat and stretch it out slightly if you just need it to fit in the short term. If your hat is a tad too big to begin with, you'll have to get creative. This mind-blowing tip we learned from a riding instructor is a total game-changer! Carefully fold back the rim inside the front of your hat and secretly place a pantyliner inside. This will help add bulk to the rim of your hat so that it fits a little more snugly. The adhesive backing will keep it in place so no one will ever know it's there!
Vest not quite right?
Unless you're showing in academy, you luckily won't see much of your vest once it's under your suit, so last-minute vest alterations can actually be quite easy. If your vest is too big, it's going to bunch up in the front when you button your suit jacket over it. To avoid this, fold over the back lining and sew a new seam, or fix with safety pins. If your vest is too tight, the fabric will pull at the front and cause irreversible damage. If this is the case, carefully cut the back seam out and simply duct tape to size! You can replace the back lining or add in a panel later. Similarly, you can often add panels to the shoulders of your vest to drop the length down in the front.
Pants too tight?
Unfortunately, there's no easy way to fix this quickly. If you're really desperate, you can try opening up the inseam/rear and adding a temporary fabric panel to any particularly tight areas. Or, if you need some more room in the rear, you can have a tailor turn your pants into full-seat suede jodhpurs! Whenever possible, we advise buying a few yards of matching fabric to keep on hand for such emergencies, or in case you want to have a new pair made in the future. If all else fails, just make sure you wear the same color underwear as your pants, cross your fingers and hope for the best!
Fitting saddle seat clothes just right can be a pain. Unless you're a skilled seamstress, we don't recommend trying to do serious garment alterations by yourself. However, these are some relatively simple fixes you can attempt at home, if time and money are not on your side. If you're still not confident you can pull these off yourself, by all means consult a professional tailor (preferably a saddle seat suit-maker).