From big hair and banana clips, oversized shirts and shoulder pads, pink lipstick and anything neon; the 1980’s came to us with a certain fashion flair. Peering into the western show style of the 80’s was not much different. We experienced the decade of the tuxedo shirt, sequins, colored jeans, ultra suede and anything with BOLD colors.
Be sure what you want and be sure about yourself. Fashion is not just beauty, it’s about good attitude. You have to believe in yourself and be strong. ~Adriana Lima
I hit the show ring in 1985 on my Pinto pony Jasper, with a Navajo saddle pad, a pair of clean, pressed jeans, small round belt buckle and a white shirt with a bolo tie. Even though I was young, I collected all the horse magazines and kept up with all the latest horse show fashions. I flipped through the Paint Horse Journal each month as if it was gold; the saddles and bridles loaded with silver and pastel chaps, shirt, and hat and matching boots. Gazing into each page waiting for the day I could own those items. I grew up with everything I needed, but only dreamed of wearing the latest fashion craze due to the cost of most of those items. My parents always made sure that I had clean appropriate show clothes, most of which my mom handmade. I have so many fond memories of visiting spring tack swaps to seek out ideas for what I wanted my mom to make me for that coming show season. No matter what I chose, when I look back at the pictures they make me laugh every time. It is crazy how as fashions evolve, we always look back and wonder WHY and HOW that ever represented high fashion!
Over twenty-five years have elapsed since my first show ring experience, and the western show scene has changed in a major way. It was actually quite shocking when I realized how much it had changed. My sister and I showed full time up until 1997 and since then we frequently trail ride. It had been some time since we had really delved into the show scene. In March of 2011, we were at a local horse event watching the classes and browsing the vendors. As we looked through the newest western fashions, we stumbled upon this dynamite red and black jacket. We stood there reminiscing the old days and talking about how we used to dream of jackets like this; that was until we took a look at the price tag of $2000. We both looked at each other and my sister blurts out, “that is more than we paid for BOTH of our horses combined!” We chatted about how we used to be required to wear a tie or bolo and how the style now is to have an open neckline with large, decorative cuffs on a show jacket. We realized that we were much older than we felt and that so many things had changed in the fashion behind western riding.
It gave us a good laugh, and at the same time made me realize how much it is not so much about the current fashion or trend, but about the memories we make while wearing those fashions. Fashion may change from decade to decade, but those crazy hair styles, “unique” outfits and memories that you have with friends and family will never change. They will be with you for years to come. What memories do you have from your show days? What pictures are you willing to share with us that might give us all a good laugh? We invite you to share memories or photos with us on our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/equestrianstylist.