Home » The Devil Doesn’t Wear Prada. He Wears White Breeches.
By Wendy Angel
“Hell is empty, and all the devils are here.”
So wrote William Shakespeare in “The Tempest”. An obscure literary fact is that this quote was inspired by horse shows. OK, maybe I made that up, but it remains true in my heart.
Horse shows are abound with devils. Not the horses, riders, overbearing parents, trainers or loose dogs, though arguments could be made for each of these. I’m talking about the white breeches, and the people who make us wear them.
The devil’s color is indeed white, not red. Who decided that white breeches were a thing? And that they are a must-wear item for show attire — or a socially required item whereby you look as out of place as a chicken in church if you don’t wear them?
The dressage riders, the eventers, the jumpers, classics and other such classes that call for formal attire… We are all subjected to this monstrosity. At least hunter and jumper riders got thrown a bone and can mostly wear tan without getting looked at askance. But I suppose they have to put up with other things, such as the eternal death stare of hate if they dare to put an ounce too much bling on their tack. STandard Accepted Bling (STAB) level is a real thing.
In their supposed efforts to make us look our best for the show ring, the powers that be have decided to play a cruel joke and actually make us look our worst.
While white breeches can look good on some builds, for the rest of us mortals, that ship sailed long ago. Thin, stretchy, white fabric does little to hide the lumps and bumps that we’ve earned over years of riding, living, eating and wine-ing. Personally, white breeches make me feel like I’m back in my awkward middle school phase and as if everyone is laughing at me (Alright, I admit it; I haven’t ever actually grown out my awkward phase).
And some breeches manufacturers aren’t helping the situation. I get that thin fabric can ease freedom of movement and be cooler in hot weather. And we are athletes, after all. But that translucent fabric can show way more than lumps and bumps and seems as if we’re wearing attire more akin to a swimsuit than riding apparel. If you can describe my underwear in detail as well as count my pockets of cellulite, methinks it might be too thin. Just maybe. Makers of thick white breeches, I salute you for your efforts in helping us out.
But all aesthetics aside, has anyone actually MET horse people? We’re dirty. Stinky. We muck poop, groom pee out of our horses’ coats and then go eat a horse show hamburger that probably has too much ketchup squirted on it because our hands are still shaky from that explosive dressage ride. Then we have a beverage to make ourselves feel better, and then maybe a frappé later to make ourselves further feel better. We’re sitting in the grass or on a dirty bench watching how others’ rounds are going while we vomit up the earlier hamburger. Then our horses add their grassy slobber to the bouquet. We’re cleaning and conditioning tack with products that have more oils and grease than Saudi Arabia.
And ALL OF IT ends up on our breeches that were clean for approximately five minutes.
So when you see me at my next show wearing wine-stained, ketchup-laden, grassy-bottomed, grease-adorned white breeches, be sure to compliment my underwear. And I’ll be sure to shake my fist at the sky for having to wear them (the breeches, that is).