Sartorial Statements in Dressage

The Rise and Fall of Bling

A few years ago dressage riders, especially those in North America, became wildly  enamoured of Bling.  Everything had Bling! Bling crystal browbands for the horse’s bridle.

Bling Browbands with Swarovski Crystals
Bling Browbands with Swarovski Crystals

Bling bracelets for the rider .

Bling bracelets.
Bling bracelets.

Even Blinged out spurs!

Bling spurs!
Bling spurs!

There was bling everywhere; on the sides of the tall boots, on jacket lapels and on helmets. Finally in 2012, one young rider came down the centerline toward the judge with an eye popping strip of bling on her helmet and the judge, a 5* Olympic level judge, told her to leave the ring and come back in a more subtle helmet!  That really was the death knell for excessive bling.  Bling has not entirely disappeared but it is much reduced and mostly confined to crystals on the bridle browband. My horse Biasini has a nice browband and that is now and has always been, our only bling statement.


Helmet Heads

In 2012 Charlotte Dujardin, the leading dressage rider in the world and winner of two individual Olympic gold medals , started to wear a helmet in competition. In the 2016 Olympics the entire British team wore helmets.  In dressage the tradition was to wear a top hat in navy or black to match the jacket or tail coat. Charlotte and others decided that with fragile heads a helmet was a sensible idea. Wearing a helmet , of itself, makes a statement. To me it says :” the tradition may be for a top hat but I’d rather protect my brain in a risky sport.”.  It can also be tailored to be individual for the rider. Charlotte’s helmet was specially designed for her by helmet maker Charles Owen with the British colors.

Charlotte Dujardin London 2012


What can you say with a jacket or tailcoat?

Jackets are worn for the lower levels of dressage competition and tail coats are worn for the advanced classes. Both allow for some individuality. The collars and piping can be in contrasting colors. Gone are the days when it had to be all black or all dark navy blue.

My tail coat has interchangeable ‘points’. The points are at the waistline of the tail coat (you can just see them in this photo.).

I choose to use the ones that are a red and white hounds tooth pattern. Red and white are the Canadian colors so I feel like I am doing my bit to fly my country’s flag. Also for the distance the points look pink, the color of support for women’s breast cancer research. Double statement! But this coming winter show season I will be making a different statement.

I am having my points reimagined by  This company is reimagining all types of clothing with recycled cloth taken from either your own clothing or clothing sourced from charity shops. Did you know that it takes 10,000 litres of water to grow the cotton for a single pair of jeans?  This is why it makes sense to recycle clothing.   I think reimagining and recycling clothes is a statement I would like to make.

One Comment Add yours

  1. I love the idea of using recycled clothing to make into other pieces! The impact on the environment of new clothing is astounding.


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