Tale of the Tape

It can be helpful to know your measurements before you go show-clothes shopping.

With big shows coming up, with vendors offering lots of shiny new show clothes, it can be hard to resist temptation.

If you do decide to shop, make it easier on yourself by knowing your measurements before you try on or order show clothes.

With show clothing, it is important that everything fits correctly. If something is too tight or loose, it can compromise your overall appearance in the show pen.

Buy a flexible measuring tape from your local craft or fabric store for the most accurate numbers. When measuring yourself, wear the same undergarments that you show in. Enlist the help of a friend to take the most accurate measurements. Be sure to write them all down and keep them with you while you are shopping.

Learn Nicole Barnes' secrets to perfect showmanship patterns in AQHA’s FREE Showmanship Basics report!

Where to Measure

The basic measurements women will need to find a well-fitted jacket are: waist, bust, neck, hips, front width and back waist. It is important when measuring to not pull to tightly on the measuring tape. This is called a skin measurement.

Stand relaxed, but with good posture.

Start with your waist. Your natural waist is located between the bottom of your ribcage and your pelvis. This is the smallest part of your abdomen. Keep the tape parallel to the ground.

Next, move to your bust. When measuring your bust, stand with your arms at about a 45 degree angle away from your body. Measure across the fullest part of the breasts, tape parallel to the floor. Your bust is not the same thing as your chest.

In addition to Nicole's secrets, Brad and Valerie Kearns explain why showmanship is the perfect event for people who can’t afford an expensive horse in AQHA's FREE Showmanship Basics report.

To measure your chest, stand with your arms in the same position as before and place the measuring tape around your back and under your armpits. The tape should go above the breasts and be pulled a little snug.

Measure your neck to find the height most comfortable for a collar. Measure the base of your neck, not the middle, to find the circumference. To find the height put the measuring tape at the indentation at the front of your neck up to where it would feel comfortable for a collar to rest.

Measure the length of your arm. Place the measuring tape at the tip of your shoulder, or sleeve seam, down to where the wrist bends. It is best to add an inch or more to allow for movement while riding.

Your front width is from the crease where the arm meets the body to the crease on the other side, above the breasts and not across the fullest part. The arc of your bust is from the side seam of your top or shirt to the other side seam, across the fullest part of your breasts.

Your back waist will help determine the length of your jacket.

To measure your back waist, put the measuring tape at the nape of your neck. Then, measure the distance to where you would like your jacket to end. Showmanship jackets should end at the fullest part of yourhips, anything longer will make your legs look short. Your hips are measured around the fullest part of your bottom with the tape parallel to the floor.

For riding jackets you need to know where your chaps fit while you are mounted and riding.

It is popular to have jackets that can be worn in multiple classes. If you are looking for a versatile jacket, be sure to know whether you want to wear it tucked in or left out while showing in riding classes.

If you plan on wearing the jacket tucked in, be sure it is long enough that it will not un-tuck while riding and moving. If you plan on wearing the jacket un-tucked, it needs to fit over your chaps or hit just above them to show your belt buckle.