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The VTO Breeches Buyers Guide

We get a lot of questions about breeches. Questions about sizing, fabrics, brands and styles. We've put together this buyers guide to answer some of these common questions and help you pick the right pair of breeches for you.

Most adult breeches are sized according to waist size in inches. For ladies, this can be a bit disconcerting because it means adding about 20 to your jeans size (yikes!) to get your approximate size in breeches. So if you wear a size 10 in jeans, you probably need a size 30 in breeches. But it's best to measure your waist just to make sure.

Most of the breeches we sell are fairly stretchy. If you see Lycra or Spandex in the fabric description, it's a stretchy breech. What this means is that most riders can go down to the lower size if their waist is between sizes. There are some exceptions, so see the part about fabrics for more on this.

Children's and men's breeches are sized normally from 4 to 16 and 28 to 44, respectively. Some men's breeches are available in larger sizes, but are maddeningly difficult to find. Children's drawstring breeches and ladies tights are often sized as S, M, L, and XL.

Most ladies breeches are available in long lengths. If you are over 5' 7", you probably need a long length. The inseam of breeches is about 2 inches shorter than for regular pants because the breeches are not designed to go all the way down to your ankles. They should end below mid-calf.

There is a huge variety of fabrics used to make breeches. The most common fiber is cotton, usually blended with Lycra or Spandex to give it some stretch. Cotton is popular because of its reasonable price and wonderful comfort. Nylon used to be popular as a lightweight alternative, but is being replaced by high-tech microfiber fabrics that are more comfortable and breathable (and more expensive!). These new fabrics, such as Tactel (Aquator), are nice because they wick moisture away from the body, helping to keep you dry, cool and comfortable. Polyester is another popular fiber used to make Polartec fleece breeches. It is incredibly soft and lightweight, wears well, and provides excellent thermal protection.

Most breeches are stretchy, giving you some "wiggle" room in sizing. For example, if you measure your waist at 29 inches, you can probably use a 28 in stretch breeches unless your waist is unusually narrow compared to your hips. The exception here is in two-way stretch breeches.

We get a lot of questions about two-way stretch fabrics. Two-way stretch does NOT mean the fabric stretches in both directions. I don't know who invented the terminology here, but two-way stretch means the fabric stretches in ONE direction - vertically. Four-way stretch fabric stretches in both directions, both horizontally and vertically. Two-way stretch fabric, such as that used in Tailored Sportsman Royal Hunter breeches, is very popular these days. But be careful. Because two-way stretch does not stretch horizontally, it is harder to "squeeze" into a pair that is a little to small for you.

Apart from the fiber used, the look and feel of a fabric is affected by the texture. Twill fabrics are lightly ribbed diagonally. Other common textures are honeycomb, herringbone, and rib knit (similar in texture to corduroy).

Patches and Seats

Our best-selling breeches are those with Clarino knee patches. Clarino is a brand name for a good quality imitation suede. It's affordable, durable, washable, and provides just the right about of "stickiness" against a leather saddle to help keep your legs in position. Some higher-end breeches, such as Schumacher, use genuine leather (often goatskin or calfskin). It's always nice to have the real thing, but for most riders Clarino or similar imitation leathers work just fine. In addition to helping keep the rider in position, knee patches also reinforce the major wear point for breeches, extending their useful life considerably.

With full-seat breeches, the Clarino (or leather) extends from the knee up the inside of the leg and covers the seat of the breeches.

Extended knee patch breeches, also known as 3/4 seat or "Competition" breeches, have Clarino (or leather) all the way up the inside leg, but the Clarino does not cover the seat.

Euroseat breeches have a separately-stitched shaped seat of the same fabric as the rest of the breech, and are designed to be more comfortable in the saddle.

Self knee-patch breeches have a reinforced knee patch of the same fabric as the rest of the breech.

Which Breeches are appropriate for...

For competitions training level through fourth level breeches or jodhpurs may be worn with tall boots or jodhpur boots. No color is specified in the AHSA rules, but white or light colored breeches, such as beige or light grey are popular. For tests fifth level and above, light colored breeches and black tall boots must be worn. Again, color is not specified, but white or light cream are popular colors. Knee patch or full seats are worn.
For dressage and stadium phases, white or light colored breeches may be worn. For the cross country phase any color breeches may be worn.
Hunter Classes
Adults: "earth" tone breeches such as beige, khaki, grey, and rust are appropriate. Very popular today are the Tailored Sportsman Royal hunter breeches and look alikes with 2 front pockets, side zip and 2 way stretch material.
Children: Jodhpurs with jodhpur boots and garter straps are most appropriate for growing children. Beige, khaki, grey or rust color. Children with very long legs may look better with breeches and tall boots.
Jumper Classes
Same as hunter classes although white is popular at the upper levels.
Show your respect for the clinician by dressing conservatively or how you would in a show. White breeches are not necessary, but light colored breeches are appropriate.
Schooling at home and trail rides
Anything goes! Be comfortable, be fashionable! Tights are comfortable in the summer and fleece is warm in the winter.

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