Well the term dance may in itself be somewhat of a misnomer for me and the Stretch man but we do try and it is getting there, though somewhat slowly.
Nevertheless, we all like to feel that we look the part, calm and serene. Speaking for myself, underneath the facade I am sweating, trying to make everything look effortless for those lovely judges, remembering my test whilst steering my 18+ hands round a 20 x 40 arena. In order to achieve this feat, I need to be wearing something that doesn’t look like I feel!
I decided it was time for a new jacket but where do you start? There is such an array out there. Yes, my primary focus is Eventing but that said I do dabble with BD (though it scares me to death with all those composed, neatly dressed ladies) and I do go to BS (that scares me too especially in the warm up arena). So, what to choose?
In usual Claire fashion, I drew up my list…………….
Ok, hands up! I love to keep everything in the JHA colour palette so I was looking for blue and bringing in orange (of course), champagne and white if possible.
- Fits me correctly, my arms are pretty long and my body is fairly short for someone of my height.
- Needed to be completely comfortable both for dressage and show-jumping.
- Good tailoring – preferably lined I hate seeing seams, it looks so unfinished but practically, I have had a few (expensive ones) that were wrecked quickly from the inside out.
- Bit of tasteful bling for the Diva in me
- Needs to last and stand up to the strain of competition and being flung around
- Price performance – is it going to look like an old dish rag in no time
- Needs to continue to look good after multiple cleans
Sounds simple? Take it me from me, it is not.
This time I was going to stick it out and get a jacket that met the criteria rather than just “making do”.
Off I went to all the usual shops trying on jacket after jacket.
Too boring, too expensive, top brand label with top brand pricing but made in China with questionable workmanship, wrong colours, didn’t fit properly, far too much bling, horrid style, pockets in the wrong place, didn’t like the quality of the material, felt restricted, didn’t wash and the list went on.
I never really considered “made for me” to my spec. Yes, I had seen Flying Changes before but thought that it was far outside my price bracket, only for dressage and really for those at the top of their game, after all they make the jackets for the GBR team – Carl and Charlotte for goodness sake!
Then I met Sarah at Wellington Riding and we got chatting.
Made for little old me
Beautiful looking jackets. It didn’t take much to coax me to put one on. I like quality tailoring and I could feel it the minute I put it over my shoulders. I did not feel restricted – hurrah!
Now I am not going to tell you that these jackets are inexpensive, they are certainly not. You have to understand that I am half Yorkshire and half Scot, both of whom are known for their thriftiness or should I say meanness?
Here is my reasoning. I looked at jackets costing up to £800 off the peg, I looked at the worksmanship, lining (or lack of it), where it was made and the quality of the material. I won’t name names but I am sure you can guess. Then I started to do the sums of what I thought the cost of design and manufacture would be and the sale price and it didn’t add up, well it did when you delve into their route to market.
In 1 minute flat, I made my decision – great tailoring, quality materials, fitting like a glove, to my specifications won the day. Just to put it into perspective, budget around £450 to £500 depending on style and added trim.
With a green light, out came Sarah’s tape measure to check all my measurements.
Choices, choices, choices
Then came which style to choose. I always like to be a bit different so finally after much deliberation I chose the cut away. Apart from it looking great it provides me with the incentive to keep off the chocolate!!
The last stage was the most difficult for me. Which trim, stitching, buttons to choose. Oh my!! Sarah had the patience of a saint as I wrangled with what I wanted. It was lovely not be rushed as I made these decisions. Bling buttons or non bling buttons? Coloured accent stitching or not? Which trim? Where? Lovely choices and finally my order was complete.
Would I like a matching stock? Of course, why wouldn’t I?
Decision made. Now for the wait.
Actually, the delivery was spot on with what Sarah said. Arriving beautifully packaged. Wow!! Bit of a statement piece, need to get our dancing up to scratch, Mr Stretch.
First time out was a BD event, I have to say I felt great. It was blistering hot, my usual stressage concerns were all there except for the one fact that I had a jacket that allowed me to move as I needed to, no tautness anywhere, oh and we won!
Now I have my eye on some tails but we have a long way to go to get there, lots more hard work from me and Mr Stretch but I know where I will be going when I finally arrive at that point.