PDA

View Full Version : Formal Attire, a la Le Goff photo



denny
Nov. 10, 2009, 04:51 PM
Have you seen Jack`s photo on the cover of the most recent USEA News?

He is dressed in a tweed jacket and cap, and, like so many of the European horsemen of his era, looks very elegant and "polished".

I remember Bert De Nemethy also always looked impeccable, and so did any number of other European emigres from the immediate post WW2 years who were either judges or trainers.

Do you think that this formality, which we rarely see in modern Americans, was in some way fundamentally basic to their entire approach to horses, training, turnout, and competition?

Did it give them an edge, and, if so, are Americans missing the boat by showing up in Mickey Mouse sweatshirts? (So to speak)

Or is that "Old School" European elegance just a function of a bygone time and place, irrelevant to other considerations?

FolsomBlues
Nov. 10, 2009, 04:58 PM
I can see both sides. On one hand, taking care with your own "turnout" shows a personal pride and attention to detail. You can easily make the jump that people like that will also be meticulous in the care and training of their horses. This is something that will always be important to the sport and should not be lost.

On the other hand, sometimes people hold too tight to things simply because "that's the way it's always been done". Change, when done for the right reasons and in the right way, can be wonderful, and you might end up doing things differently from the way it's always been done. While I do think some of the classic principles have been lost, we have made some progress (and I'm not talking about the Mickey Mouse sweatshirts :winkgrin:)

Ajierene
Nov. 10, 2009, 05:07 PM
There was a time when everyone wore dress pants. Only the factory workers wore something as base as jeans. Now designer jeans cost hundreds of dollars. The clothing styles of the times were merely that - clothing styles - and do not reflect on personal abilities.

You could find back then, and can find now, people in an old pair of jeans and torn flannel that keep a fastidious apartment, excel in their jobs and can discuss Plato with you; while people clad in tweed coats cannot string two words together coherently and do not know the meaning of work.

To me, judging someone by what they wear is going to get you in trouble. If Mark Phillips put on a tweed jacket and cap, would you suddenly think he knew what he was doing in terms of team selection?

Janet
Nov. 10, 2009, 05:09 PM
I think that attire just changes with the times.

I have been looking at prewar car racing pictures (especialy Brooklands). Both drivers and mechanics are wearing coat and tie.

But I don't think modern car racing drivers and mechanics are any less disciplined because they wear nomex.

Beam Me Up
Nov. 10, 2009, 05:43 PM
There seems to be a divide among horse people (not eventers specifically, this spans all disciplines) about whether or not good turn-out and attention to detail in terms of presentation relates to similar discipline when riding.

Hence the endless threads on whether not braiding or not wearing a jacket is disrespecting the sport.

IMO the 2 are not related, but either way, I do think that embracing improved technology, in this case via more modern fabrics, is good. In England, where it's almost always chilly and misty, wool coats were probably the most practical choice for hunting/eventing, especially pre-waterproof fabrics. In Virginia, where I live now, it is often 90 degrees at events, and a polo with wicking fabric makes more sense. I don't see it as thumbing my nose at tradition, any more than modern golfers who dress neatly but less formally than "the old days" do. It is, after all, a sport.

Lisa Cook
Nov. 10, 2009, 05:44 PM
I used to work in an office where dress was professional dress (suits - not business casual). The thinking was that the quality of our dress impacted the quality of the work, even if we stayed in the office all day & never met with customers.

Now I work a lot in my home office in jeans/sweatshirts and, um, if early morning, in my pajamas. :uhoh:

I think that the quality of my work is the same, whether wearing a suit or pajamas. I'm not big on thinking quality of clothes = quality of work.

Now, with that being said...there is also showing respect to others, which is completely different. This is why I dress professional when meeting customers, and shirts with sleeves & collars are worn for riding lessons. :)

retreadeventer
Nov. 10, 2009, 06:15 PM
Denny, I have been working in the paddock at the racetrack shoulder to shoulder with the dirtiest, grimiest (is that a word), ragtag man you ever would have wanted to see handling horses. The horses were gorgeous, trained to the teeth, fast, and won lots of money. The man was a multi-millionaire. He would go to the yearling sales and wear a pair of overalls, dirty boots, and either no hat or a very oily John Deere cap vintage 1950. The suited ringmen would HOVER near his seat, for they knew he would be buying the very best, and had the money to do so. In addition he was a very nice man who never failed to say hello to me after that day in the paddock, for the next 15 or so years.
I paddocked next to doctors, NYC hospital administrators, European models, one of the east coast's biggest auto dealership owners (22 from NJ to VA), NFL football COACH, etc.

I knew a down and out groom living out of his pickup who always wore a clean pair of jeans to work every morning to muck stalls with snow and mud everywhere, and that took presidential effort I will never forget.

We all looked the same after we bathe a 2 year old following its first race! :)

Oh and Beam Me Up, there is another reason for wearing wool, which I learned last winter -- it doesn't rustle like synthetic fabrics and make noise while hunting, possibly interfering with hearing the hounds!

Jeannette, formerly ponygyrl
Nov. 10, 2009, 06:35 PM
I find I learn best in a lesson if/when I have an underlying attitude of (gender neutral) "Sir! Yes sir!" in my blood.

It doesn't take fine tweed, nor is clothing sufficient, but it is easier to reflexively salute someone in uniform than someone in a Mickey Mouse sweatshirt...It is best to salute (metaphorically) because I absolutely respect their judgement - but I find I tend to respect the judgement of people who tend to dress a bit formally...

I wonder about martial arts instruction, where the tendency/training is still to bow when entering the dojo - students there are not "the customer, who is always right" I suspect....

clm08
Nov. 10, 2009, 07:47 PM
Europeans in general dress up more formally (or more elegantly?) than Americans, and that is not only in the horse discipines. Many years ago when I was a grad student in the Midwest, I had an Italian friend who dressed up like all other grad students, in jeans, t-shirt and sneakers for classes. But when going out at night to a bar, restaurant, or party, he always dressed up as an Italian: nice dress trousers, elegant shirt and quality leather loafers.
I am the epitome of a person who dresses very casually for most ocasions, but when I am traveling in Europe I always dress up so I don't stick out like a sore thumb! :)
To me it is not horse related, it is simply cultural.

Ajierene
Nov. 10, 2009, 07:57 PM
There seems to be a divide among horse people (not eventers specifically, this spans all disciplines) about whether or not good turn-out and attention to detail in terms of presentation relates to similar discipline when riding.

Hence the endless threads on whether not braiding or not wearing a jacket is disrespecting the sport.

HA, yeah! My first thought when I read this post was all the comments on the hunter/jumper forum about wearing collared shirts in lessons. I don't have a lot of money and just cannot see putting on a collared shirt, getting it all dirty to tack up my mare to be...well...a dirty mess in a collared shirt for my trainer instead of a dirty mess in an old t-shirt and schooling breeches.


I find I learn best in a lesson if/when I have an underlying attitude of (gender neutral) "Sir! Yes sir!" in my blood.

I wonder about martial arts instruction, where the tendency/training is still to bow when entering the dojo - students there are not "the customer, who is always right" I suspect....

This may be for you, which is fine, but to say that just because you wear a collared shirt for a lesson and I don't does not automatically mean you ride better or manage your horse better than I do.

In martial arts, you bow to the dojo. You do not bow to the sensai. You bow before entering the mat to show your respect for the mat and how it will break your fall, and you bow to the flags. You bow to your sensai and your sensai bows to you - as a sign of mutual respect. This is only done when starting a particular lesson or sparring match. Likewise, prior to sparring, you bow to your partner and your partner bows to you. Again, this is a sign of mutual respect. The depth of the bow depends on your skills compared to who you are bowing to, in some disciplines. As an example, a white belt bows lower than a green belt who bows lower than a black belt.

I find this to be very different than any apparel and its supposed meaning.

KBG Eventer
Nov. 10, 2009, 08:30 PM
This thread reminded me of the main barn worker where I board my horse. He is Hispanic and a devout Catholic. He usually comes to work in nice slacks, a belt, button down collared shirt, and nice work shoes. He often (somehow) remains looking spotless. It's very impressive! He's a great guy, works hard, and takes good care of the horses.

evntr06
Nov. 10, 2009, 08:59 PM
Europeans in general dress up more formally (or more elegantly?) than Americans, and that is not only in the horse discipines. Many years ago when I was a grad student in the Midwest, I had an Italian friend who dressed up like all other grad students, in jeans, t-shirt and sneakers for classes. But when going out at night to a bar, restaurant, or party, he always dressed up as an Italian: nice dress trousers, elegant shirt and quality leather loafers.
I am the epitome of a person who dresses very casually for most ocasions, but when I am traveling in Europe I always dress up so I don't stick out like a sore thumb! :)
To me it is not horse related, it is simply cultural.

Having grown up in Moscow, I totally agree. Even though Moscow is not Europe, it is close to it in this respect. If you go out of the house, you dress up nicely and elegant. By looking nice, you show respect to the company. Dressing down would be similar to putting your feet on the table - very disrespectful. So, this tradition was also part of equestrian life.

However, in America, relaxed and casual attire is the culture. People wear clothes that are comfortable and utilitarian. However, I don't think that casual dress translates into casual attitude. In fact, sometimes paying too much attention to attire and turnout takes the focus away from work to be done. Personally, I like to dress up at shows: it makes the occasion even more special. However, I don't want to spend my time, energy and concentration on attire during the daily training. I want to use ALL my energy to concentrate on learning!

mbarrett
Nov. 10, 2009, 09:14 PM
I think there are some folks out there who have no pride in the way they dress. Many people can take a cue from Le Goff and our other vintage riders and trainers when it comes to pride in dress. When a person is in public, first impressions count, whether or not you agree with it.

For example, at a nice event this summer, young ladies were wearing flip-flops, midriff-bearing tops, and sloppy jeans or shorts with rolled down waist-bands at the stadium jumping course walk. Yuck. Even though they rode later in the day, I thought it was inappropriate attire. They would have looked a lot more presentable in clean jeans, polished paddock boots, and a clean shirt, tucked in. I can't believe their coach allowed such attire on the course walk. (But their coach is a mess himself...)

I think if you are in public, you should present yourself the way you would want your horse turned out, clean and tidy. I did not say in the most expensive, fancy clothes, but clean and tidy, appropriate clothes.

I think many people, often young people, don't take into account, or care, about first impressions. They don't have good role models themselves. They are too casual because our society is too casual.

There is a time and place to wear torn jeans and an old t-shirt and crummy shoes. (at home, or mucking a stall) However, there is a time and place to make a good impression of yourself. I think at a horse show, your turnout is very important, especially in the "public" areas of a horse show.

Now I don't mean we all have to wear formal tweed coats and pressed slacks at shows. However, the confidence Le Goff exudes in that picture is an extension of a man who takes pride in himself and how he presents himself in public.

quietann
Nov. 10, 2009, 09:50 PM
I am 45, so sort of straddle the generations between "formal" and "casual."

In competition environments, I try to stay a bit more dressed up even if I am just a groom -- polo rather than T-shirt, jeans but clean well-fitting ones.

However, at the barn I will admit I am a slob! Lots of T-shirts, flannel shirts in the winter, sleeveless polos in summer, fleece vests, breeches with stains etc. And almost everything is too big since I've lost weight.

Some of it is just money; I'd rather spend the money on my horse than on spiffy clothing that's just going to get destroyed in a barn environment.

RiverBendPol
Nov. 10, 2009, 11:26 PM
......If Mark Phillips put on a tweed jacket and cap, would you suddenly think he knew what he was doing in terms of team selection?
AAAAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAAAA:winkgrin::lol::lol::lol:
Good point...........

tulkas
Nov. 11, 2009, 12:40 AM
George Morris said it all: "You look sloppy, you ride sloppy."
Sloppy is a state of mind, not a clothing style.

tulkas

gully's pilot
Nov. 11, 2009, 07:16 AM
I've found myself slowly evolving a bit in this area....I've been lucky enough to ride several times at a "camp" given by a BNR. First year--I was at camp! Riding tights and untucked t-shirts (FYI, I'm in my 40s). Second year I wore polo shirts tucked into my tights, and the tights were dressy enough to have belt loops, so I wore a belt. Third year I polished my boots.

I always had clean tack and a clean horse--I was never screaming dirt--but the interesting part to me is that I didn't consciously (until now) reflect on why I was dressing differently. It was the same BNR, and no one ever told me off for my sloppiness. But I learned a metric ton that first year--and I left with so much respect for the rider, not for the vastiness of their equine accomplishments, but for their teaching, and for their willingness to teach me, that I think I came to respond to that. I was now their student; I wanted to look like someone worth their time. And you know what? BNR always showed up in boots and breeches, clean polo tucked in.

Last winter I was down in Florida taking lessons for a week with same BNR. One morning I forgot something at my lodgings and had to make a trip back, so I was running late for a lesson. I said to one of the working students, "Do I show up in the ring five minutes late, or do I not brush out Gully's tail?" She responded, "Oh, God! How bad is the tail?"

So, Denny, how did you dress when you rode with Jack Le Goff? And how do you expect students to dress when the come ride with you? And does it make a difference if it's "camp"?

(The camp I go to is not Denny's camp--though I'd love to try that one, too.)

denny
Nov. 11, 2009, 07:42 AM
I don`t have very strong feelings pro or con, say the way George Morris so emphatically does.

Partly it`s cultural, as some have pointed out, and partly it`s determined by the era. I`ve seen photos of my father at Dartmouth, class of 1926, and all the students were formally attired for class, ties, jackets, the works.

When my father`s grandfather was at Dartmouth, class of 1865, they probably ironed their underwear.

When I was there 36 years later (class of 1963) we wore jeans, sweatshirts, whatever. Now it`s probably baseball caps worn backwards, but I don`t think the class of 2010 is any less diligent or smart, probably more so than past times.

That said, if I were taking a lesson at a clinic, I`d be in polished boots and clean breeches, with a shirt with a collar, because it`s a mark of respect, plus it shapes you up, if even that little bit, to know you`re neat and tidy.

The poster who said Le Goff exuded confidence in that cover shot got it just right. Jack looked the part as well as lived it. So did De Nemethy, and most of those 50s-60s era trainers, and how they were turned out did contribute to how we viewed them, and, I suspect, how they viewed themselves.

FlightCheck
Nov. 11, 2009, 08:26 AM
Your attire often changes the way OTHERS treat you, especially those who do not know you well or at all.

Case in point: sometimes I'll fly out to an event or home from an event in "formal attire" - business suit and hat, because I'm either going straight to the event for the jog, or returning home straight from the showgrounds.

However, flying out the day before an event, say, to the west coast, I'm in jeans and a comfortable shirt and sweater. Coming home the day after, the same.

You can bet your boots that I am treated differently in the business suit - by workers and fellow passengers.

If I arrived to ride at a clinic and the clinician was dressed in sloppy shorts, a tee shirt, and flip flops, I'd be a bit taken back.
(Lessons with instructors I know are a different story).

Ajierene
Nov. 11, 2009, 08:41 AM
Your attire often changes the way OTHERS treat you, especially those who do not know you well or at all.

Case in point: sometimes I'll fly out to an event or home from an event in "formal attire" - business suit and hat, because I'm either going straight to the event for the jog, or returning home straight from the showgrounds.

However, flying out the day before an event, say, to the west coast, I'm in jeans and a comfortable shirt and sweater. Coming home the day after, the same.

You can bet your boots that I am treated differently in the business suit - by workers and fellow passengers.

If I arrived to ride at a clinic and the clinician was dressed in sloppy shorts, a tee shirt, and flip flops, I'd be a bit taken back.
(Lessons with instructors I know are a different story).

Interestingly, once you hit a certain demographic, is seems the opposite happens. My father was a millionaire and was almost always seen in jeans and an old t-shirt, except at his corporate jobs. While he was the vice-president of a bank, he got the gout once. At the same time they were going through a lot of lay offs. People were afraid to touch him, however, because he was wearing sneakers instead of dress shoes (because he couldn't get into his dress shoes). They thought he was someone's son-in-law or something to not dress to the business 9's while everyone is worried about their job.

Also, my step-mom planned a day at Longwood Gardens for her mom while her mom was visiting. My step-mom had to go to work, but my father was not working at this time and they randomly decided to go to the Top of the Towers, in NYC (rather exclusive restaurant at the top of the World Trade Centers, back in the day). Walking in in jeans and t-shirts, slipping the host a $20 to get a table right away, everyone thought he and my step-grandma were SOMEONE-only SOMEONE could go to that restaurant in that dress and get in right away!

Attitude is separate than clothes, in my opinion. People will judge you on not only what you wear, but how you wear it, my dad wore jeans and a t-shirt with an attitude of 'I don't care what you think' and it made him seem MORE important. Jack Le Goff wears that outfit well. I bet if I walked out in tweed and a cap I would just look silly.

I do have my 'power outfits'. I think I look good in them and hence my attitude changes and I look good in them and look like I know what I am doing. Tweed, not so much.

sdfarm
Nov. 11, 2009, 09:24 AM
Humm, what percentage of those folks foxhunted formally compared to today's show, show, show event riders?

fitzwilliam
Nov. 11, 2009, 09:43 AM
At our barn everyone is squeaky clean and more formally attired for clinics ie polos, etc. as are the attendees from outside the barn - ditto. I think it is a sign of respect. You are paying this person hundreds of dollars and giving them your time, it makes the lesson seem a little more special. For show we are all old school, with one exception everyone braids for dressage at events. Now I must admit we live in the Intermountain West so the number of available events is nothing compared to people on the Coasts. Perhaps it is our trainers H/J background but if you are in the top five for SJ you also braid, again a sign of respect for the event. That is just the way things go at our farm but everyone can certainly choose their own dress code. It really boils down to your own attitude. I remember dressing up in my Sunday best to fly somewhere in the 60s and now it is come as you are. Of course I do not want to dress up to be squashed into a sardine can so I am glad times have changed in that respect!

kerlin
Nov. 11, 2009, 09:44 AM
I know that my state of mind changes with my dress. If I am wearing neat, clean clothes, I feel more organized and attentive. If I'm wearing sloppier clothes, maybe a bit dirty, or ill-fitting, I'm more inclined to be sloppy myself.

It doesn't necessarily reflect the amount of work I get done, but for *me* (and I'm sure for some others) my outward dress can often be a good indication of my state of mind for the day.

For that reason, I always try to dress more neatly for lessons, clinics, or for any event at which I'm off the farm, even if I'm just jump judging. If I'm just hacking out back, I'll wear old breeches and a t-shirt.

Mach Two
Nov. 11, 2009, 11:25 PM
When I groomed at the upper levels, I'd get "my" horse ready, send the rider off to get dressed, and quickly change to go up to the jog. It only takes a moment to slip on khaki pants and a clean shirt, and in case anything happened to my rider, I could present a horse in her place.

In the vet box I might wear jeans, but still with a tidy shirt.

And when I galloped steeplechase horses, and took race horses to the paddock for saddling and to start a race, I was turned out. It's just a nice nod to traditions and being respectful to the ground jury and judges.

Around home, jeans and tee shirt, sweat shirt, pajamas...whatever....in public, dressed. Not fancy, necessarily, but neat and tidy.

God bless Jack LeGoff, he always looked like a class act!

evans36
Nov. 12, 2009, 12:50 PM
I'm 27, and I believe in always presenting oneself properly.

Just like Denny says, the student population at my university totally looked to have starched undies way back when. Folks in my class used PJ pants and sweats as the norm. I wore nice clothing to class as a sign of respect for myself and the professor. I wear nice clothes to fly. I also do the same thing in a lesson or whenever I am going to have anything more than a bareback trail ride for myself. I think there are 2 reasons beyond "showing respect" that I do this.

#1, Clothing chosen to show off the body rather than for comfort keeps us aware of ourselves. When riding, high waist breeches help me keep my core tight and tall. When flying, a dress and heels keep me sitting with good posture (indispensable when sitting for so long!). Wearing clothing like that helps me keep my body in line, in a way. When I wear slumpy clothing, I slump (there's no belt buckle poking me, saying "sit up!"). Slumping is bad for you - not only does it present a less-desirable and confident image, but it hurts the spine.

#2, If people are going to judge me and find me wanting, it's not going to be for any factor within my control. People judge us all the time. I find that people treat me better when I'm dressed better, and I prefer the higher level of treatment, so I dress to encourage it. Also, it's one less thing to worry about. When something doesn't go the way you planned, do you really want to be wondering if it's because you went with business casual instead of a suit? Because for some folks, it makes a difference. Just like if you come out of a dressage test with 6s & 7s that you thought should have been 7s & 8s, opting out of jacket and braids is just one more thing it "could" have been. Control the factors you can control, and then you'll have less variables to analyze afterwards in order to eventually get the result you want.