Behind the Design - The Sterling Show Shirt

Behind the Design - The Sterling Show Shirt

When we set out to create the technical yet traditional competition shirt the horse world desperately needed, we knew there were a couple things we had to bring to the table. Every piece had to be showing AND schooling appropriate, feature technical, wicking, and UV blocking fabrics, and have a tall, stiff collar to impress even the most discerning hunter and equitation judges. Read on to learn about how we designed these game-changing garments that celebrate time-honored equestrian tradition with an updated twist.

Shop the Sterling Show Shirt online and in your favorite tack shops!
For a list of our retailers, click here




Female Rider with horse wearing competition show shirt


STEP ONE: Creating a Concept

Tall collars elongate the neck and give riders the appearance of sitting straighter and taller in the saddle - equitation trainers have known this for years. The tall collar is also more traditional and polished, making it essential for the hunter ring where the turnout of the rider must not distract from the effortless grace of the horse. There’s a reason why hunter and equitation trainers have been requesting that theirs students sport high-collared shirts, yet the equestrian fashion industry has continued to churn out garments with collars of diminishing size in recent years. What about us hunter folk? 

Sketches of new riding show shirt

The Sterling Show Shirt is our answer. Inspired by the time-honored tradition of show hunters, these technical, comfortable, and sharp-looking show shirts feature a tall, stiff collar with hidden button & zipper placket. We tried and tested scores of fabrics, experimented with collar closures and remeasured for optimal fit to ensure our show shirts go above and beyond what’s available to riders today.  The shirts are made with UV-blocking, moisture wicking Ice-Fil fabric, feature a unique mesh venting system, and above all are USEF 'R' judge approved for hunters & equitation classes.

The end result: a design that’s familiar, relevant and wearable. Two traditional white options, two bold colorful options, four technical yet classic shirts that transition effortlessly from schooling to showing and back again. 

STEP TWO: Picking a Color Palette

To successfully blend modern and classic design, we knew that choosing an appropriate palette for the Sterling Show Shirt would be essential. We ultimately selected colors that stray just a little from what’s traditional, without disrupting the time-honored standards for classic hunter turnout. Our sultry shade of navy is dark, rich, and leans just a little towards black to ensure that it goes perfectly with your favorite grey, black and navy show jackets. We also chose to focus on a deep bordeaux hue that simmers with luscious blue undertones and pairs with all your favorite neutrals. 

Choosing a color palette for the new show shirt for hunter jumper competition

We incorporated these rich colors into both variants of the Sterling Show Shirt. They feature prominently as the body colors for the solid Navy & Bordeaux varieties, which look oh-so daring in the jumper ring and perfectly polished for lesson day at the farm. We also chose these colors to accent the deluxe mesh paneling of our hunter & equitation shirts for an eye-catching colorblock effect. See? Hunters can have fun, too. 

STEP THREE: Engineering the Perfect Collar

Getting the collar right was a key part of our garment design sessions. How do we marry the stiff fabric of the collar with the airy, light, and incredibly soft fabric body in a way that is functional and professional? Magnets come undone, zippers  don’t lay flat, and a full placket of tiny buttons can be tedious and difficult.  There’s no worse feeling than when your collar comes unsnapped on course, so we needed our solution to be tough and trustworthy yet unobtrusive and sleek. Since the Sterling Show Shirt is also designed for schooling at home, our collar solution needed to look sharp when left undone as well - no itchy clasps or floppy zippers allowed.  

Sewing new prototype of new design equestrian competition sun shirt

Our final design combines the ease of a zipper with the security and polish of almost-invisible snaps that keep your collar in place no matter what. The narrow placket lays flat against the garment to create a polished silhouette in the show ring, yet unzips easily to convert into a comfortable sun shirt for everyday wear. The stiff collar is crafted with ultra-sturdy interfacing to ensure that it never bunches or sags, and also stands tall when unzipped to provide unparalleled sun protection for the back of your neck while schooling. Best of both worlds = achieved. 

STEP FOUR: Building an Outfit

Once the collar design was finalized, we set to work developing a few looks that blend our rich color palette with some of our tried-and-true Hunt Club favorites. The Derby Belt is a natural choice to pair with the Sterling Show Shirt since it is also designed to transition seamlessly from schooling to showing. These stretch belts feature a low-profile buckle that eliminates the bump under your show coat while in the saddle to create a streamlined look. They’re also uniquely stretchy and light, with allows them to move with you while you ride, eliminate pressure points, and increase air flow - bye bye sweaty leather belts!

Matching derby belt and polo belt to new equestrian show shirt

The Classic Day, Victory Gallop and Trailblazer Derby Belts belts pull in key complimentary colors from the navy variations of the garment, and the On Deck, Single Oxer and Barn Babe belts provide ample contrast and coordination to make the burgundy variants pop.  For something a little daring and different, these competition shirts also pair expertly with our line of genuine Argentine Polo Belts. For a unique, eye-catching look in the jumper ring, pair the Rosé Polo Belt with the solid burgundy Sterling Competition Shirt and a navy show jacket - you can thank us later. 

STEP FIVE: The Final Touches

We’ve incorporated a few hidden touches throughout the Sterling Show Shirt that bring these multifunctional garments to the next level. Unzipping the collar reveals detailing in Hunt Club’s iconic colors that match perfectly with the woven tag on the front pocket. Our stamped logo tag - made popular by our Derby Belt line - was added to the back of the collar at just the right height so it peeks out from under your show coat in the ring. By using a dense patterned mesh for our venting panels we were able to add more of them without sacrificing modesty and style - no see-through bits here!

ice-fil uv protection for equestrian show shirt

The hem of the Sterling Show Shirt features a shirttail cut that’s longer on the front and back and shorter on the sides so it stays put when tucked in, and the white cuffs were expertly engineered to ensure they’re always peeking out of your show coat just the right amount. All of these details are designed to be subtle enough for the hunter and equitation rings while adding fun, stand-out touches that are uniquely HC. 

Shop the Sterling Show Shirt online and in your favorite tack shops!
For a list of our retailers, click here


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