Horse Riding Portuguese Costume

The traditional Horse Riding costume that we see today used in our fairs and in particular at the Saint Martin Fair, is the popular costume that was used in Portugal for riding, in field work and in playful moments in the 19th and early 20th century .
The rich men’s costume, or seeing-to-God, differs from the more popular costume in terms of the hat and the richness of the fabrics and some adornments.
The countryman had to wear functional attire, adapted to his everyday pursuits.
The head was covered with a cap (black on rural workers and green with a red border in the countryside) or a wide hat with a ferrule, with a convex crown, as seen in the figure of “Zé Povinho” created and immortalized by Bordalo Pinheiro .
Today’s costume has replaced the cap and hat with a convex crown, for the hat worn by the landowner or by other characters of a social scale above the rural worker. With a wide brim, it has lost its ferrule and the crown is “pushed in”, drawing a rim that some call the “tack”.
The vest persisted as a piece of clothing that comes from the Middle Ages, evolved from the loudel or doublet, and the jacket, cut straight across the back, above the waistline, rests on it. The jacket closes with bone, silver or other metal buttons or rich braid, sometimes a remembrance of a close family member.
The jacket has numerous models of collars (strap, collarless, rosemary, jacket, candy, two-cornered…), and is sometimes decorated with “corners” or “elbow pads” which in the practical model were places of reinforcement or patches in the worst wear points of the fabric.
The pants are high in the waistband, secured with suspenders and at the waist well adjusted and with the fringes to the left, the waistband is rolled up, usually black for rural workers and red for rural workers.
The trousers go straight down to the sheepskin or calfskin boot, ending in a bell-bottom in the earth digger and straight down, without folding and just above the ankle, when you want to ride a horse, covering the gaiter or the ankle boot or the high-heeled boot. With the rich outfit, the leggings, ankle boots or high boots are polished.
The shorts persisted in the countryside, an 18th-century model used until the French Revolution, with white socks to the knee without a gaiter, with a shelf-heeled shoe on which the lyre spur or spur rests.
The shirt is white, without a tie or bow, with a collar with the rounded ends facing the chest, closed by buttons in holes or by gold or silver cufflinks, double or single. The placket of the shirt ‘may be adorned with frills, a remnant of the rich attire of the 18th century court.
The country woman did not ride a horse. She rode on the horse’s back or on a donkey harnessed made of albarb, sitting sideways with her legs together and placed to the left of the donkey’s spine.
The “possessed” ladies (the Amazons) until they straddled, around 1935, ride sideways in their own saddles and only use a spur in one of the boots. They dress in foreign fashion, which, in the meantime, facilitated contact with the new means of communication allowed them to reach them from the United Kingdom and France. Therefore, it is difficult to find a genuine Portuguese model, but the example can be seen in Queen Senhora Dona Amélia who, riding the Amazon, wore either the English costume or the costume that can be understood as Portuguese, with a ferrule hat with a shorter brim that the model of a man’s hat is adorned with two “pom-poms”, which was called a “serrano hat” and a short jacket with a very feminine cut, or a quarter and pint jacket with a placket shirt decorated with ruffles.
When the ladies start to “straddle” the Amazon skirt is replaced by a long skirt down to below the ankle.
Underneath this split skirt at the front and back to “fall” to both sides of the saddle, Amazona continues to wear, as she used to do with her Amazon skirt from years ago, a long shorts that reach to the ankles, which tighten, as if whether on the cuff, by three buttons at home. These shorts were not and should not be men’s trousers cut straight, (contrary to what is wrongly seen today) because at that time strict distinction was required in the way of dressing between the two sexes. For this reason, the ladies do not wear a vest, which, as I wrote earlier, is part of men’s clothing.
With the Amazon costume, you can wear short-toed ankle boots with a low heel, and the costume that straddles boots or boots that have gained heel in recent years, without losing the shelf heel.
João Gorjão Clara (Author of the book “The Portuguese Riding Costume”)

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