What to Wear to a Dressage Competition, A Complete Guide

If you’re reading this, chances are you’re worried about what to wear to a dressage competition because you’re about to compete in your first one! I’m so excited for you – and you should be excited too.

I know it can be nerve wracking for sure but at least now that you’ve got this guide, you won’t have to worry about what to wear because I’ve got you covered!

The feel of dressage wear


dressage wear is formal and conservative

For dressage competitions, you want to think formal and conservative. Dressage is an extremely old sport dating back to when it was done as entertainment for royalty. Like many such sports, it has plenty of tradition that’s fiercely upheld.

So you don’t want anything flashy. If your helmet is bright purple, you need a new one. If you’re thinking half-chaps, think again (although this does depend on what age category you are in).

Colors need to be neutrals like whites, greys and beiges. Blacks also work, but only for accessories such as boots, gloves and helmets. In addition, everything that you wear should be clean, wrinkle-free and polished! How you look is very important.

What to Wear to a Dressage Competition…

The basics


You need a white competition shirt or show shirt with a standup collar. Women need a stock tie or choker, while men need a tie. Make sure these are conservative in color such as white or cream. Here are some examples.

For ladies who are in Training and First Levels, you can just wear regular stock ties but for upper levels, you should have ruffled stock ties.

All competitors should wear riding breeches that are either white or light beige. Only in the case of young children are jodhpurs allowed as well as breeches. If your breeches have belt loops, then you should wear a belt; however, it needs to be a conservative color.

Accessories


You should wear a dressage coat in either black or navy. If it is extremely hot, sometimes you will be permitted to take these off, but you should have one with you just in case.

dressage boots need to be clean and shiny

Riders need to have tall dressage boots, field boots or jodhpur boots for competition. The boots should be black, polished and clean.

Only riders up to First Level are allowed to wear half chaps, gaiters and/or leggings. These riders may wear half-chaps, gaiters or leggings in solid black or brown, with no fringe, matching the color of their boots and made of smooth leather or leather-like material.

In these cases, if breeches and paddock boots are worn together then simple half chaps should also be worn that match the color of the boots and resemble the look of a field boot. Similarly, if jodhpurs and paddock boots are worn together – usually only by young children – then matching garters or jodhpur knee straps are often also worn.

Riders have the option of wearing a riding helmet or a Top Hat. Top Hats are usually exclusively worn at the upper levels; however, even in these cases more and more riders are opting for helmets due to safety reasons.

The helmet you wear should be black, clean and ASTM / SEI certified. And finally, in the upper levels, it is required that you wear spurs that are clean and shiny.

Optional Items


upper level riders wear white gloves

Riders may choose to wear riding gloves that are either white or black. Generally riders competing in the upper levels choose to wear white gloves whereas lover lever riders wear black ones. This is because your hand movements are more apparent in white gloves, which can be a problem for riders with less experience.

A standard black riding whip may be used in certain situations. If you are competing in the dressage portion of an eventing competition then whips are not permitted. Make sure the whip is black and plain. Don’t bring in one that’s hot pink with fringes!

Always double check & good luck!


What to wear to a dressage competition

Always double check with the FEI and / or whoever is running your particular competition for unique modifications or specifications. Some competitions deviate from the norm for whatever reason.

You should be informed of any such modifications but it’s always good to double check. It’s never fun to show up the day of the competition and realize there’s something you don’t have or something you have that you shouldn’t.

You’re already being proactive by reading this post so I know that you’re going to do great! I want to wish you the best of luck and I would love it if you would comment below and let me know if this was helpful for you, or if you have any additional questions.

Happy riding 🙂

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8 thoughts on “What to Wear to a Dressage Competition, A Complete Guide”

  1. I found your article on how to dress for competition to be very interesting and informative, I never realized their was a correct way to dress for such an event. I am wondering where do one get such attire, even more how expensive is this attire to purchase ?

    I love horses and I myself thought of competing as a young boy, I only had a little farm horse but to me he was the fastest race horse alive.

    Reply
    • Hey there! Yes, there are very strict dress codes for dressage competition. How you look is just important as how well you ride in one of these, especially as you get to the upper levels. It can get pretty pricy but if you buy online sometimes you can find good deals on Amazon. You can also find them on sites like Dover Saddlery, etc. If you like shopping retail then simply Google your closest dressage boutique.

      I’ll probably write an article soon about what dressage clothing to buy and where to get it so stay tuned if you’re interested. And awww – don’t we all have that one special horse in our lives we grew up with.

      Reply
  2. Martina,
    I did not realize how much one must do to prepare for competition. Your article laid out everything a person needs to know to prepare for dressage. I was not aware of the color requirements, nor the strict guidelines for women. My younger daughter has recently become interested in horse riding. I had her read your post too; she was quite surprised!

    Reply
    • Hey Calvin,

      Oh yeah, there’s plenty that goes into prepping besides the actual training. Especially with dressage, you definitely gotta look the part. I’m really happy that you found it useful and if your daughter has any questions, let her know she can ask me anything 🙂

      Cheers,

      Martina

      Reply
  3. Hello, I am aware that in many rulebooks it does not gender specify stock ties, ties, and collars. Knowing it is technically allowed for a woman to wear regular tie, would it reflect better if i wore a stock tie in comeptition, or just a tie?
    Thanks

    Reply
    • Hi Tia,

      Thank you for your question!

      It shouldn’t technically reflect better one way or the other. If you prefer a sleeker appearance and like some colour contrast, then feel free to go with just a tie. Also if you are a bit on the bustier side, the extra ruffle to the stock tie can add extra bulk that some women find is too much so they prefer to stick with the sleeker option. I do find that if all the other women are wearing stock ties and you’re the only one with a regular tie – you’ll definitely stand out 🙂

      Hope this helps,
      Martina

      Reply
  4. i have a few questions:
    can you have coloured Spurs(rose gold)?
    can you have coloured Stirrups?
    can you wear white breeches, with a grey full seat bum?

    Reply
    • Hi Brooklyn,

      Thanks for your questions!

      can you have coloured Spurs(rose gold)? – Probably not, these should classically be black or silver but it can depend on the level at which you’re competing. Higher levels will be strict about black or silver.
      can you have coloured Stirrups? – This will generally be a no unless you’re doing a local barn competition for fun.
      can you wear white breeches, with a grey full seat bum? – This is a bit tricky because of the grey full seat bum but I should think it would be okay. Generally they like white, off-white or beige so depending how strict the competition is they might not like that grey seat. To be safe, I’d get a pair that are white or off-white through and through and then you know 100% you’ll be good.

      I hope that was helpful!
      Martina

      Reply

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