Apparel Riding Tips

Above & Beyond: Size Inclusivity in Equestrian Apparel

nikovian size inclusivity
Written by Horse Rookie

Why Create Petite, Tall, and Plus Sized Equestrian Clothes?

Riders come in all shapes and sizes—short and tall, slender and curvy, standard and non-standard sizes. Everyone deserves to enjoy being around horses and riding in clothes that fit comfortably and flatter every body.

But, all too often, equestrian brands limit products to a narrow set of “typical” sizes. That needs to change!

Size inclusivity is about more than just making clothes in a few larger sizes and passively allowing retailers or online customers to purchase.

Being size inclusive means not distinguishing plus size from regular size. It means making the same color, style, and cut options available in all sizes, as well as representing and celebrating diverse sizes in marketing materials and on social media. 

Many equestrian brands, including Nikovian, have made this shift and now offer a wider range of sizes that make the right fit possible every time, for every rider.

*Feature photo courtesy of Anu Joshi.

*Thanks to Nikovian for sponsoring this post about such an important topic!

Nikovian size inclusivity

Photo courtesy of Nikovian

What Does Size Inclusivity Mean?

Size inclusivity is about breaking barriers and making sure that everyone can find clothes that fit and flatter.

Size inclusivity is a mindset, one that means everyone can feel comfortable in their bodies.

invictus nikovian

Source: Nikovian

Why is Size Inclusivity Important?

Size inclusivity is important because all customers deserve to be treated the same way, no matter their physical appearance.

As recently as a few years ago, many tack stores relegated plus size clothes (usually size 16 and above) to a corner, as if saying the customer should be ashamed for needing that size.

Anyone who isn’t a “standard” size has likely faced (or felt) discrimination when shopping for riding clothes, especially with marketing campaigns that rarely show a woman above a size 10.

Did you know the average woman in America is a size 16 or 18?

nikovian size inclusivity

Photo courtesy of Nikovian

Benefits of Size Inclusivity

Size inclusivity creates a more positive shopping experience for everyone, especially if a group of different-sized friends goes shopping together. They don’t all want to be in different corners of the store or be limited to a certain color palette or clothing cut.

Brands that embrace customers of all sizes will also see increased brand loyalty.

Major brands have started catching on to the shift away from stigmatizing people based on their physical appearance. Both financial and social pressure has led many brands to expand their lines and offer more size-inclusive options.

nikovian size inclusivity

Photo courtesy of Nikovian

We’re thrilled to see more brands now offer clothing up to 3 or 4XL, and a broader range of retailers popping up exclusively for women who are size 12 or above.

At the end of the day, though, it’s not about what a brand can gain—it’s about doing the right thing for customers!

Typical Sizes vs. Inclusive Sizes

The biggest difference is not referring to certain sizes as “plus,” or no longer distinguishing between sizes 0-14 and sizes 16 and above.

  Traditional Sizing Updated Sizing
Regular Fit 0-14 0-24, sometimes 0-40
Plus Size 16-18; separate stores for 18+ 24+, included along with “regular” sizes
Petite Separate petite section Sometimes separate, sometimes marked “short” (like with pants)
Tall Mixed in with 0-14, hard to find Options available from 0-24

Petite and Tall Sizes

The equestrian community seems to be catching on faster than mainstream fashion, with many brands featuring a fuller range of size options for riders to choose from.

Nikovian offers all clothing in sizes XS-3XL, and they’re adding XXS to their collection soon!

nikovian sizing

Source: Nikovian

How Should Clothing Fit?

In the past, many riders had to buy a few sizes bigger to accommodate their largest part, whether it be hips, chest, or long legs. This meant shirts, breeches, and even boots, fit well in one way but poorly in every other sense.

That’s why brands like Nikovian bring riders a broad range of sizes that strike a balance between compression and stretch.

We want every rider to look and feel amazing, both in and out of the saddle.

nikovian size inclusivity

Photo courtesy of Nikovian

So, what should you look for when you’re shopping? It’s all about fit.

Riding Pants

Breeches: Bottom line, these should be comfortable. The fabric shouldn’t wrinkle or be baggy, but neither should it be so tight as to feel constrictive. If you can’t breathe, size up! Breeches should have a similar fit to cotton leggings, yet provide a bit more support. Fit should be snug, but with room to move easily.

Jeans: Choose a mid- or high-rise option so pants won’t slip down while riding. Bootcut, straight cut, or skinny jeans offer the least-obtrusive cut. Any jean with a bit of stretch or give is preferable to a stiff denim, as it’s important to be able to move with the horse.

Chaps: Chaps fit best when they are snug at the waist, not the hip. Look for a smooth fit from hip to knee, then a snug fit from knee to calf. If you’re looking at half chaps, calf fit and shaft height are critical.

Tall Boots

Tall boots might be the trickiest riding accessory to get right. The boot should be snug on the calf without impeding circulation. A good rule of thumb is to see if your index finger fits into the boot while standing.

The top of the boot should rest in the bend behind your knee.

Riding Tops

Riding tops work best when they offer flexibility for movement, but without being baggy (e.g. can become caught on your tack). Too tight, and range of motion may be restricted—too loose, and fabric rubs or gets in the way.

The same goes for jackets. When in doubt, choose a jacket that fits the shoulders and chest, which sometimes means going up a size or buying a men’s jacket.

Don’t be afraid to visit a tailor to achieve the perfect fit!

Nikovian size inclusivity

Photo courtesy of Nikovian

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How do you size riding tights?

Riding tights should have the same fit as a pair of leggings or yoga pants.

Q: How tight should riding pants be?

Some of this comes down to preference, but most riders prefer a snug fit. If you’re between sizes, going down a size will create a snugger fit, and going up a size will leave a little wiggle room.

If you can’t move around easily or comfortably, the pants are too tight.

Q: What sizes are classified as plus sizes?

Even though the mindset toward plus size is shifting, most designers consider sizes 18 and above as plus size.

Some brands don’t make the distinction and carry sizes 0-24.

Q: Why do some designers still not make plus sizes?

Sometimes their factories don’t have equipment designed for plus-sizes. In most cases, though, they may claim it’s not financially sound, as larger sizes requiring more fabric and shrink profits.

Other designers don’t seem to know how to design clothing to flatter plus-size or petite figures. Not to worry, though—plenty of other brands DO!

Q: What does inclusive fitting mean?

Inclusive fitting means making all styles of shirts, pants, and dresses available for all sizes, rather than having different styles for plus-size or petite clients.

Nikovian Size Inclusivity

Photo courtesy of Nikovian

Parting Thoughts

The best way to continue seeing a change in the available sizes offered for equestrians is by supporting the brands like Nikovian that are putting in the effort.

Don’t be afraid to try a new company, shop from other countries online, or ask your tack store staff for recommendations.

You might be surprised by how great you feel in clothes designed to fit YOU, whether you’re petite, plus size, or tall. This sport is for everyone, and you deserve to walk in to the ring looking and feeling beautiful!

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About the author

From the tender age of six, I embarked on a journey that would weave horses into the very fabric of my existence. Over 35 years have passed since I first mounted a horse, and my love for equestrian sports is stronger than ever before.