byNina Fedrizzi| Oct 11, 2017
They say what’s good for the goose is good for the gander, and while I don’t know much about that, I can tell you that what’s good for five-star show jumper and top-10 European Championship finisher Danielle Goldstein is definitely good enough for me. So when I read about Danielle’s preference for yoga pants for riding and schooling in place of breeches, my interest was piqued. After chatting with her, even more so.
“I started riding in all brands of yoga pants full-time about a year and a half ago,” Danielle said, adding that she made the switch for a few reasons. “I find traditional breeches rather unflattering, especially white ones; I think wearing a belt while doing an exercise that requires you to bend over is preposterous (plus, no one wants love handles and lumps and bumps caused by belts); I do yoga every morning and find yoga/exercise leggings extremely comfortable; and I love how fun patterns and colors can hide female imperfections and make women feel sexy!”
Danielle says that she prefers high-waisted yoga pant styles for riding, since you don’t have to worry about them sliding down. “I think that the shape is most flattering on women, especially if you just want to wear a sports bra on top,” she added. “The softer and more compression there is, the better. Very slippery spandex is the least desirable.”
Goldstein went so far as to say that she won’t ever put on a regular pair of breeches again—which is a pretty resounding endorsement—and even suggested I give it a try. So I thought, What the heck? What are we if not an intrepid equestrian lifestyle blog dedicating to sleuthing out the answers to questions riders most want to know?
And, instead of wading into the pool gradually, I went all-in: pulling on my big-girl-amateur-adult-Lululemon-pants and testing out the theory at my next jumping lesson. (“Journalistic research!” I called triumphantly to some quizzical passerby.)
Here are three things I found:
1. You can kill time in them all day comfortably.
That’s not to say that you should—trust me, I’m that weirdo still trying to resurrect formal attire for airplanes (what would Casablanca be if Ingrid Berman was running for that flight in her Jets hoodie?). But when you’re working from home and squeezing in a ride in the morning or at the end of the day, I have to say: It was way more comfortable hanging out in my yoga pants, compared to breeches, when not actually seated on a horse.
For sure, some brands and styles of riding pants are more comfortable than others, but no matter how technical your breeches fabric, there’s still the matter of those tight cuffs around your ankles (to prevent bunching under your boots) and, of course, to Danielle’s point—wearing a belt, which, no matter what you say, is never going to be as soft, forgiving, and comfortable as your yoga pants waistband.
2. They don’t really bunch up while you ride.
This was my biggest reservation going in, given all the design technology that goes into high-tech, non-slip athletic fabrics, seaming and cuff design, etc. But in my experience, there was no such issue. My pants stayed comfortably in place through the bending and reaching required by grooming and tacking up, as well as mounting, flatting, and jumping—no belt required. The only issue? I struggled a bit with what to do with my zip-up riding top, which felt sloppy untucked, but not quite right (or flattering) fully tucked-in, either. I opted for the Abercrombie mannequin, half-in, half-out compromise.
3. You can really feel what you’re doing.
Not only did I not have issues with slipping (for the record, my Lululemon yoga pants were made of the label’s high-tech, patented Luxtreme—which feels like a fancy cotton blend to me). The thinner fabric also made me more conscious of my seat and leg in the saddle, especially while rising in and out of the tack jumping courses. I would imagine this effect would fade over time, but all said, I’ve tested out a few brands of riding tights in the past, and I actually found yoga pants to be more comfortable and less slippery.
The verdict? Although I’m not sure I have personally amassed the street-cred necessary to wear yoga pants in competition or clinics, I can definitely see the appeal. As equestrian clothing technology and design continue to evolve and improve, my guess is we’ll be seeing many more similarities to mainstream workout wear, not less. It just makes good sense.
Until then, I’ll be looking forward those days when I’ve gone through my weekly stash of clean riding breeches and have an excuse to take my favorite yoga pants out for a hack.
Photo credits: Erin Gilmore, Ifat Zohar, via Lululemon.
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