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This article by Sandy Masson reprinted courtesy of Driving West Magazine.
Visit their website at www.drivingwest.com.

What to Wear? What to Wear?
by Sandy Masson
Visit our article archives.

The Florida Whips Learning Weekend entertained a wonderful speaker, Grace Getz of Choluota, FL, who gave us many important hints on how to dress to drive at a show. Grace has won many competitions in turnout. A different hat for each class is Grace’s trademark. The following are tips and tricks to make the best presentation possible.

While it is not possible for most of us to compete with Grace in that department, we should start with the hat and go from there when deciding what we will wear. Thank goodness the rules allow for a lot of individuality as long as what you wear is “appropriate” to the type of vehicle/horse you drive.

First though, no hat is appropriate if it doesn’t stay on your head. A good trick is to stick the “teeth” side of a Velcro strop inside the hat where it sits around your head. If it starts to come off, the teeth catch in your hair, but I have yet to have a hat fixed this way even budge. There are also many wonderful hatpins if you have a lot of hair. Elastic string done tightly under the back of your head also helps. But, nothing works better than the Velcro.

The hat should flatter your face and allow for good visibility. Veils on women’s hats should be tucked up out of the way or removed unless you have a fancy turnout. Try your hat on for someone whose opinion you respect. When you have chosen the hat, put the outfit with it.

When should you wear a straw hat? Tradition says anytime in a warm climate and after Memorial Day in cooler areas. It’s more correct to be slightly early wearing straw in the spring than to continue with straw after the weather turns cool.

Two things that detract from a good visual picture are having a driving apron that is too short or too skimpy and having a large area of skin showing between the end of the gloves and the beginning of the sleeve. The object is to present an unobstructed line. To get the best look, the driving apron should be long enough to come to the bend of the ankle when the driver is seated. The apron should also be able to wrap around and tuck under. (For me that means a trip to Omar the tent maker). Remember the apron always goes over any coat or vest you are wearing. The apron can be any appropriate color as it can go with more than one outfit.

Most driving gloves will meet your sleeve if your sleeve doesn’t ride up when you bend your elbow. In order to get sleeves long enough, they may come to your fingertips when your arm is straight.

The more full bodies (that’s the way I refer to myself) you are in the less attention needs to be drawn to wrinkles in your outfit. A collarless suit coat that has ample room and long enough sleeves will present a less cluttered and cleaner line. This is also practical because of the many ways you can change the look with accessories like pins or scarves. The metal of the pin and earrings should match the color of hardware on the harness. Make sure no lace, ruffles or scarves wave in the wind as that draws attention to any posture faults.

Gentlemen look good with tie and handkerchief in place. Cufflinks are making a comeback for both sexes. Women are not supposed to wear boots. It is correct to wear a dress show, but safety is still a prime concern, so choose your shoe so that you can get into and out of the vehicle safely. Wearing the same color shoes, hose and skirt or pants also makes for an uninterrupted line.

We sometimes have a lift of dress code in our area due to the “furnace” that we call spring, summer and fall. However, women or men should continue to wear long sleeves, just omit jackets or vests.

Some materials are wrinkle resistant, stand away from the body and allows for airflow. All are considerations in the heat. Other parts of the country are blessed with temperatures that allow layering wonderful turtlenecks, vests, and coats.

Observe what the winners of some classes in turnout are wearing. Adapt their look to your preferences in dress and the kind of turnout you are putting together – formal or informal.

Don’t be afraid to use color. Greens and browns are said to look good with chestnut or sorrel horses, blue and red with bays. Black with a black horse looks like a funeral. Accent the outfit to draw the eye to your face.

Wear comfortable garments. Fruit of the Loom used to have an ad that said, “A man can’t dance if his underwear won’t”. It’s true of outerwear also.

Get your outfit together before you go to a show and be sure that you are comfortable as well as stylish. Use a hatbox for your hat. They are available at most large stores that sell hats. Put your gloves in the hatbox also and put them on just after putting on your hat and apron. Put your ship in the whip holder, tuck the driving apron up out of your way and get into the vehicle. That way you will not forget anything.

Good Luck and remember the most important thing to wear is a smile.


This article by Sandy Masson was provided courtesy of Driving West Magazine.

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