Have you gone shopping for new breeches recently?

I have.  And because I was looking for something a bit unusual — white breeches with knee patches — I thought I’d have the best luck shopping online.

Just finding a pair of white breeches with knee patches was an exercise in detective work, as white breeches with full seats are the dressage choice.

Not to be daunted, I compulsively, as is my wont, tracked down all the white breeches with knee patches that existed on my side of the oceans.

I eliminated all white breeches of lightweight fabric, discarding the idea of wearing a “body shaper” or what we used to call “girdle” underneath them.  I also discarded any “low rise” breeches, which we used to call “hip huggers,” and which completely justifies why I rejected them.

I searched on bulletin board threads where other fans of white knee patch breeches gathered.  I googled, of course.  And I called or emailed vendors to find out how each pair of breeches ran — large, small or true-to-size.   I should not have been surprised to hear, more often than not, that no one knew.  These aren’t stores after all, they’re warehouses or drop-ship portals, and neither owner nor in-house customer has ever actually tried on these breeches.  One vendor reassured me that “they fit everyone…no one’s ever returned them!”

Okay.  Although frugality is not my strong suit, I didn’t want to pay for shipping on several pairs of breeches from different vendors (what if I found my perfect pair right off the bat?), so I placed an order online for the breeches at the top of my list.  I usually wear 28s, but I also ordered a size 30 in case they ran small (and frugally saved on shipping).

I was excited when the package arrived in my mailbox.  (Isn’t this part of the magic of online shopping — you not only get to buy what you want but you get a gift on top of it?)  I was thrilled when I opened the package.  The fabric was beautiful, the knee patches weren’t stiff, and there was no velcro.

The size 28 wouldn’t make it past my hip even with the zipper open.  Moving right past my manatee feelings, I pulled on the 30s.  Not only did they make it past my hips, they draped elegantly along my thighs.  Too big for my breeches, or too small.

I ordered another pair, from a different vendor and a different manufacturer, only to find out days later that the breeches I wanted weren’t available.  They did have a different style available but only in a 30.

Okay.  I ordered the 30, less than ecstatic when I found the package in my mailbox, but happy to see that when I tried them on, they fit perfectly.  Only the cording on the fabric ran through the inside and felt irritating.

Okay.  After a few weeks of this, it dawned on me that perhaps online shopping was not only the slowest but also the most expensive way to buy breeches rather than the most efficient, so I hit the road.  I called my local tack shop (50 minutes away) and asked them if they had any white knee patch breeches that weren’t see-through.  When they asked me what size I wore, I laughed and told them I didn’t know, that I had 28s in my closet that fit, but I’d just tried on two pairs of 30s — one that I swam in and one that fit perfectly.  They reassured me they had a good selection in stock.

I took the big stack with me into the dressing room.  I was sure that I’d come out with two if not three pair that fit.  The first pair I tried on had a Millers label.  They were clean inside their plastic sleeve but I think they’d been sitting on the shelf of my local tack store for at least a decade.  They were a size 28.  They fit perfectly.  The material wasn’t very stretchy and it wasn’t see-through.  They cost $32.  The owner of the store laughed when I asked if they had another pair.

I worked my way through the rest of the stack, with one visual disaster followed by the next.  Too big for my breeches or too small.  Or not fit enough for the material.

I drove an hour and 20 minutes to my second closest tack shop which said they, too, had white knee patch breeches.  When I got there, the sales person asked me if I minded light gray trim along the seams.  I was way beyond that.  I took them into the dressing room and without looking at the price, I pulled them on.  They fit perfectly.  They were even nicer than the Millers. The label said Pikeur.  Followed by $249.  OOPS. In my quest for the second pair of white knee patch breeches, I’d forgotten to ask how much they cost. This was way over my budget, even if it was a real deal for Pikeurs.  Bless the heart of my sales person.  They were going on sale shortly, and she offered to put them aside for me until then.

Okay.  I am now poorer than I used to be but own two pair of breeches that fit me perfectly — one size 28 for $32 and one size 30 for $212.50.

Life was so much easier when I wore jodphurs.

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