Buying Pants: The Saga

Something you may know about me is that I have a pants obsession. A riding pants obsession. To the point where Assistant Trainer literally told me to stop buying pants. I have a problem.

My go-to has been the TS Trophy Hunters- the 26L fits like a glove and they’re super durable, so I haven’t felt any burning desire to change that up. Until now.

Partially because I really want to try some of the newer tech fabrics, partially because there are some really GORGEOUS options out there, partially because I’m a firm believer in voting with your wallet and I’m not super supportive of the TS brand ATM, and in large part because Amanda said she had breeches for sale.

It was a perfect storm to fuel my obsession.

It started simply: I asked for options in my size. She assured me that there would be plenty to choose from, and then convinced me that big sales mean the expense doesn’t actually count. I was willingly convinced.

She sent me picture after picture of high-end gorgeous pants. So so many. I was in heaven. Then she dropped the price bomb:

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In classic Olivia fashion, I quickly made a spreadsheet to keep track of all the beautiful pants under consideration (in case you were wondering, the columns were brand, color, how much I liked them from 1-5, and price). Despite wanting to take them all, I knew I couldn’t.

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I finally managed to narrow it down to the 3 top contenders. Despite originally being in the market for tan and white only, two of the three were colors. Womp womp. I have no willpower.

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My spreadsheet only took me so far. I started spiraling. How could I give up any of those pants? At those prices?! I begged for help and got only “BUY THEM ALL” back. Traitor.

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I continued spiraling. I continued making spreadsheets. I continued bombarding Amanda with a play-by-play into the workings of my brain.

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Clearly asking for help from a financial angle wasn’t working. I decided to go the emotion route, hoping that Amanda would be able to give me some clarity. No such luck. I eventually had to make the call myself.

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We both solidly threw Buddy Fianci under the bus (literally the day after he proposed, Trainer started talking to him about what a great wedding present an import would be. He is a very patient man). Buddy Fianci politely declined to buy me the pants. I’m still working on him.

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I bought the dang pants and called it a day. Then SPENDMYMONEY MCDEMONFACE started pushing SWEATERS OF ALL THINGS AS IF I HADN’T ALREADY BLOWN MY BUDGET ON BEAUTIFUL ITALIAN PANTS.

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I guess I can forgive her. After all, these gorgeous things are winging their way towards me:

Mmmmmmm pants.

And that, my friends, is how you buy pants in 34 easy steps when you’re a spreadsheet junkie, have no willpower, and have a friend with a bright future in sales.

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My Latest SmartPak Haul

I know I’m not alone in coveting new gear for myself and my pony, right? For those of you shaking your heads, take a good long look at yourselves and be honest. I know you want pretty things. That’s right. I’m calling you out.

Myself, I’m an unabashed clothes hound. I used to covet dresses and pretty blouses, but that hoarding tendency has transferred 100% to horse gear. Since I’m half-leasing for the time being and much of Addy’s gear is taken care of, this tends to manifest in lots of riding clothes.

And that’s where SmartPak comes in.

I could write an ode to their fast shipping, fantastic return policy, or lovely selection that amuses me on their website for hours on end. But that’s not what this post is about. Instead, I’ll share my latest haul(s) and tell you exactly what I think: the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Piper Knee-Patch Breeches by SmartPak

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I got these in the merlot-charcoal color based on an emphatic recommendation from Jenn at Stories From the Saddle, and haven’t regretted it for a minute. I also got another pair in iron-champagne thanks to Allison from Pony’tude, and am eying a couple other color combos on the website.

The good: so super comfortable. The sock bottom make them fit really well under my super tight tall boots, and the material has just enough stretch to make them great for all-day wear without getting baggy after a few hours. I’m also a huge fan of the colors- the merlot is straight up pretty and a fun different color, and the iron is perfect for hiding dirt without looking like you’re trying to hide dirt. You know, that effortless barn chic we all crave (sadly it looks like this color is discontinued. I’ll try not to gloat too much). Basically, I feel like a fashionable rockstar in these; everyone looks better with a little euroseat stitching to give some shape.

The bad: the waistband is a bit gappy. I don’t have much of a badonkadonk so this isn’t too bad, but my friend had to return hers because the gapping was so extreme. I just throw a belt on and it fixes the problem for me. For the price ($70ish but there’s regular 20% off sales!!), I ain’t too mad about this.

Overall rating: 4/5 will almost definitely add more to my collection

Piper T-Shirts

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I recently snagged three of these on sale in black/gray, blue jean, and coral pink. In fact, I wore the blue jean tee yesterday and currently have the black/gray tee on.

The good: literally everything. They’re way softer than anticipated, fit nice and close to my body, have just enough of a vee-neck to be flattering, they’re long enough to tuck into low-rise breeches, and the colors are great. Not to mention the price- with the sale and my USEF discount, I paid roughly $7 per shirt. The black/gray also perfectly matches the piping on my merlot Piper breeches, so I’m psyched to be the matching queen.

The bad: I didn’t buy more while the sale was on. Seriously, I can’t think of anything wrong with these. I guess my coworkers sometimes ask why there’s a horse on my shirt (the Smartpak logo)??? But that’s their problem if they haven’t realized I’m a crazy horse lady, so I refuse to ding the shirt for that.

Overall rating: 5/5 will DEFINITELY add more to my collection

Sunshield Longsleeve Shirt by SmartPak

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Picked this up (also on sale) in the royal blue color based on strong recommendations from Jenn (there is a pattern here. She is my enabler).

The good: in love with the color. Especially with my snowy white pony (listen, I can dream about her someday being clean, don’t burst my bubble). It’s fairly lightweight and I don’t get too overheated in it.

The bad: While it does protect me from the sun, I definitely know that I’m wearing a long sleeve shirt in the middle of July. It’s much better than another long sleeve would be, but the breathability isn’t as high as I was hoping. Also, the sizing isn’t great- I got an XS and it’s still super boxy.

Overall rating: 3/5 will maaaaybe add more to my collection if there’s a sale

USG Bonnet

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I’m showing in the jumpers more often, so we need to have a bonnet. Right? I’m a big fan of playing dress up so we’ll go with it. I lucked out that my barn colors were available (navy and burgundy) and the price was right, so I pulled the trigger and ordered.

The good: the ears fit really nicely and it’s a good size overall. There’s plenty of material to go under the crownpiece, so I never worry about it getting loose. Like I said, the colors were ideal. The materials were good too- Lycra ears which stretched just right and cotton woven front.

The bad: maybe I’m just bad at bonnets, but I couldn’t get this to lay flat and pretty. Part of this may be due to Addy’s big poofy forelock that I didn’t adequately tame prior to our ride, but it just didn’t seem quite right. I’d be curious to see how other bonnets fit to see if this is something wonky with the bonnet, or something wonky with Addy’s giant head.

Overall rating: 3/5 not unhappy with my purchase, but will probably spring for custom next time

Ariat Prix Classic Polo

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Got this in navy to wear to our first jumper show- I really lucked out that my barn’s colors are navy and burgundy, since most things come in navy and it’s my favorite color. Boom.

The good: nice weight, has held up really well in the wash, and definitely long enough to tuck into low-rise breeches. It’s a pretty navy and I like that it has 4 buttons instead of the classic 3. I now have an official barn polo that I’ll likely wear in shows, but I love wearing this in lessons and for schooling- it looks very sharp and professional.

The bad: SO HOT. I know a medium-weight dark polo probably wasn’t the best choice for a hot summer show, but I was sweating like a pig in this thing. It’s not the shirt’s fault for that though, it can’t help the way it was made. I also wish it was a little cheaper, but I’m the type of person who hates paying more than $10 for a shirt (but apparently I’m fine with dropping $200 on pants without blinking). For the quality and comfort, it really is a very fair price.

Overall rating: 4/5 will likely grab another if I find myself in need of another polo

Breeches Review

I’ve been slowly building up my collection of riding pants over the last few months, and I wanted to share my findings with you. Here’s a list of what’s currently in my closet and what I think about them:

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Image: Smartpak. Looks accurate.

TS Trophy Hunters (mid-rise, side-zip $189): Obsessed. They are definitely the most expensive breeches in my closet, but I think they’re worth every penny. I have them in tan and white and can’t wait to collect more colors. The material stretches where it should, holds me in where it should, and the euro-seat is super flattering. They do get a little baggy in the crotch if I’m not wearing a belt/don’t pull them up enough, but I feel naked without a belt anyways so that’s not a big deal. I may try out the front-zip or low-rise for schooling some time.

I can’t find a picture that look like mine.

TS (low-rise, side-zip, on sale for $99): Just the classic breeches, though I think the reason they were on sale is because they’re from a defective product run- the knee patches aren’t the classic suede. These do run a little small, but they stay up nicely with or without a belt. If I could have a do-over I would either size up or get the mid-rise since they’re pretty tight on my hips, but it’s not too constricting so I’ll just deal with it- bonus that there’s no sagging anywhere because they stay in place on their own. A little lighter fabric than the Trophy Hunters, but still has good stretch. Got these for a steal on sale and super happy with them. Only negative: the velcro on the bottom hits at a really weird place at the inside of my leg, so I can really only use these with tall boots unless I want weird rubs on my shins.

Still can’t find a picture. Do I only own bootleg breeches?

RJ Classics (low-rise, side-zip, $140ish): These are my go-to schooling breeches. They’re a little stiff after I wash them, but once I do some knee-bends they soften up just fine. The velcro bottom hits just right on my leg, and the knee doesn’t bunch up under my tall boots. Showing in these hasn’t been quite right though: my shirt doesn’t stay tucked in because it’s too low-rise. My long-torso self needs to stick with the mid-rise for shows.

RS_brownImage: Dover. Imagine these in blue.

Riding Sport (low-rise, side-zip, $70): In case you haven’t noticed yet, I’m a side-zip kinda girl. These are another favorite; I’ve washed them a thousand times with no sign of wear, I ride in them at least once a week, and the slate blue color makes me super happy. They’re stretchy, comfy, and good looking to boot. All that for $70. I would totally show in the tan version of these, that’s how much I love them.

Seriously can’t find a picture. These are pretty bootleg though.

Fouganza tights (mid-rise, pull-on, $15 on sale): So yeah, these breeches were on sale for $15 and there’s a reason for that. They’re a nice stretchy knit, pretty thick so good for winter. The knee patch is just more fabric so there’s not a ton of grip there. I only ever wear these for riding on my own, never in lessons, and they get the job done. These are what I wear on bath days since I don’t mind getting them wet and dirty and messy. They’re showing a little wear after being washed a bunch, but for $15 I won’t complain.

These do not deserve the honor of a photograph.

Corduroy full seat (mid-rise, pull-on, depths of a consignment shop): I won’t even dignify these with a brand name because it’s not worth digging them out of the depths of my closet. The suede full seat makes me feel like I’m wearing a diaper and these only make an appearance when I don’t do laundry for 3 weeks and have literally no other choice. Even then I’ll probably end up wearing jeans with my half chaps. Anyone want to buy some terrible full seat breeches? (I don’t think I have a promising future in sales).

My question for you, Dear Readers: what’s your favorite breech for schooling? For shows? Anything you would super duper recommend to someone who is 5’9″ and slender? I’m always looking to grow my collection!