It seems the number of available brands and styles of breeches has exploded exponentially over the last few years. And as I was trying to put clothes together for three days of MAEF last fall, I struggled with the “show” breeches I possessed, since I had only been doing one-day shows, and a lot of my showing had been at Events or Dressage shows, where I was wearing full-seats and/or whites, which weren’t options. My “good” pair of show breeches, and still one of my defaults, is a pair of RJ Classics that I got off TOTD for around $75 before I even owned Cally, so old and high-waisted, though of really nice techy fabric. I had some FITS Bekas that were nice, but now have an odd stain on the thigh, and aren’t even made any more to replace them with. I got through the third day with a pair of the SmartPak Show Pipers, but I came to the realization that I really needed to update and expand my show breeches, and maybe even some of my schooling breeches, which were also starting to show their age a bit.
So over the last nine months or so, I’ve been trying to expand my breech wardrobe a bit, try some new things, and see what else was out there. I’ve found a lot of options, and thought I’d do a little review of what I’ve tried out!
Lets start with the Pipers, since I’ve gotten them in a few varieties.
Brand: SmartPak Pipers in Show Side Zip, Classic Full Seat, and Modified Rise Knee Patch
Price: ~$70, depending on style and whether they’re having a sale
Fabric: Mostly cotton based, with a bit more Nylon/Spandex in the Show versions. The more cottony versions seem very prone to pilling, and not always in areas you expect to see that kind of wear.
Fit: Fairly true to size across styles, and versus other brands. But even with the higher “modified” rise and a good belt, I find these slipping down my hips
Overall Impression: For the price, these are a great starter show breech, a good spare to keep on hand, and a solid schooling breech that comes in a lot of colors. But because of the mostly cotton fabric, these are heavier and not a favorite option for summer. I’ve also never talked to anyone that thought these were a perfect fit, and a lot of people seem to have the “sliding down the waist/legs” issue. And that’s doubly problematic when I wear the Classic Full Seats for sidesaddle, because it’s darn difficult to wiggle it back up where it belongs while you’re aside, and looks very unladylike to boot!
Brand: Tredstep Symphony Rosa
Source: Big D Web, as they were the only place selling them online that actually had them in stock in my size! These seem to be very popular, as many retailers seem to be sold out in common sizes.
Fabric: Techy, very lightweight, and very good give with movement
Fit: The fit through the waist was spot on, but the fit through the calves was huge–I could have pulled them up onto mid-thigh if I’d wanted. I was a little worried about this, but under a sock and boot/halfchap it wasn’t very noticeable
Overall Impression: The fit through the waist on these is perfect. And they’re incredibly lightweight, so will be great as summer show breeches. I worry that they might be too thin in cooler weather, but there’s enough room in the leg that I may be able to fit long underwear under them for winter showing. The best part of these, for me, was the material they’re made of, which just moves fantastically when you’re riding, so comfortable and yet doesn’t leave you looking like you’re wearing tights.
Brand: Ovation Taylored
Source: Victory Canter
Fabric: More on the cottony side, and a bit heavier, but with plenty of give
Fit: Slightly on the large size; if you’re in doubt, size down
Overall Impression: As the name might imply, they look like TS at half the price. The material is a bit heavy for summer wear here in the mid-Atlantic, but they’re a great schooling breech, and I think I could easily go into the ring at a show in a tan pair of these, so they’d be a good show option, too. Bonus points for actually coming in RUST! My only real complaint about these is the “sock bottom” isn’t the type of stretch material that’s on the Smartpak and Tredstep breeches, it was more of a meshy sports fabric that was fairly stretchy, but was also sewn straight across the breech, right at the bottom of the kneepatch, and that hit weirdly on my legs, right at the top of my halfchaps.
I can see that ending up being uncomfortable if it hits wrong with a boot, and it just doesn’t look as finished as the more integrated, or even more nicely finished seams, of other brands.
Brand: Pikeur Ciara
Price: ~$175 shipped from Calevo, $300 from US retailers
Fabric: Techy, stretchy, and mid-weight, it even dried quickly after being rained on
Fit: True to size, and the “long” is actually long enough for a 5’10 person
Overall Impression: These seem to have replaced TS as The Hot Breeches To Have. I would not ever have been able to justify purchasing these from a US retailer, but ordering from Germany through Calevo, without VAT they were actually not too bad of a splurge as my new Good Show Breeches. I love the fit, but do not love that they still have old-school velcro bottoms rather than stretchy material. They look great in the ring, but the material always looks a little bunch in weird places in pictures off of the horse.
Like, the crotch just looks superwonky. And I have another picture where they look all funky on my thighs. So maybe not the most flattering breech to be walking around the showgrounds in. Given the price, I probably won’t invest in more of these, but they are great to ride in.
Brand: Romfh Lexington Euroseat
Source: VTO Saddlery
Fabric: Stretchy and techy, quite similar to the Pikeur fabric
Fit: True to size, with the same stretchy techy fabric the whole way down the leg, with elastic just at the bottom, which can be a bit tight to get your foot through
Overall Impression: I’ve had these in fullseats for a couple years, and they’ve become my favorite dressage and sidesaddle schooling/lesson breeches, so I was excited to pick up a pair of them in the kneepatch style for regular showing. They’re not so easy to find, but I’m happy to have them as a secondary pair of show breeches.
Overall, I’ve been quite happy with the additions to my riding wardrobe over the course of the year. At this point, I think if I were to buy any more breeches, particularly for showing, I’d lean towards more of the Tredstep Rosas and Ovation Tayloreds. Given the range of choices available, I just can’t justify the price of the Pikeurs as a repeat purchase, when I can find breeches I actually like as well or better, for less. Even the Smartpak Pipers, which aren’t a great fit for me, have been a nice addition to add a little color and fun to the wardrobe.
What breeches are your favorites?