Measuring for Perfectly Fitting Chaps

Accurate measurements are key to fitting your horse-showing chaps properly.

From The American Quarter Horse Journal

Make sure your chap measurements are exact, so that you can achieve a clean and show-worthy look. Journal photo

Some of us dread it, but it's a fact. To find comfortable, practical, perfectly fitting chaps, we have to face the measuring tape.

Babe Woods is the resident artisan at Woods Western, where chap fitting has become an art.

“We’ve had a booth at the AQHA World Championship Show for around 20 years, and I’ve been doing this work for even longer,” Babe says. “I showed horses, worked for a trainer and worked in a western store. I saw the need for riders to get chaps that fit right and filled it.”

Babe says chaps can be purchased off the rack, but with so many different body types walking around, it is hard to get a good fit from a pair of used leg huggers.

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Getting the proper fit from custom-made chaps requires more than knowledge of your pant size. Most companies ask for about 10 different measurements from the waist down. If you aren’t a tailor, call the company you are ordering from and solicit its expertise during the process. Measurements must be exact. If you start off with a wrong measurement, they’ll be wrong all the way down the leg.

“We measure, and we make the pattern, so we know what’s average,” Babe says. “Some companies have one person do the measuring, and someone else makes the product. Then, the creator isn't sure what works on a pattern. So, there are some number combinations of measurements that I know don’t work. That's when we call the customer and re-check the measurements.”

Most chap shoppers have a hard time determining the “chap waist.” Babe reminds people that this mark is taken slightly lower than what the chaps actually fit.

“It’s a bit of a drop measurement,” she said. “The chaps are going to fit higher than where the measurement originates, but through trial and error, we’ve found that’s where the measurement needs to be taken.”

After you determine the proper dimensions, choose a color and material. Base these decisions on personal preference. Blacks, sands and tans have stayed at the top of the “most-widely purchased” list for years. These colors mix well with many horse and tack colors, while also working with various outfits if you’re headed to a show. Consider your use, attire and reasoning for the chaps. Babe says leather generally hangs better than ultrasuede and pig suede, but amateurs seem to prefer the flexible comfort of pig suede or lamb skin.

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Chaps are a logical piece of any rider’s wardrobe. Take your time and double check measurements when ordering chaps. If you’re buying used chaps, incorporate outsiders’ opinions on quality of fit prior to purchase.

Some areas to watch that will improve your overall look:

    • Make sure chaps are high enough at the waist.
    • Order chaps long enough to cover your boots.