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What to Wear: Junior Edition

It’s funny that when the seasons change the chatter starts going around about what is the “right” thing to wear – as if there is some strict dress code by which we all abide. Well, maybe there is no actual dress code, but for some exhibitors there are definitely the “right” and “wrong” things to wear when it comes to being in the show ring.

The crowd that seems to get the most chatter going on about wardrobe just so happens to be the younger crowd. Yes, I’m talking about junior handlers. Now boys, I know what you’re thinking, “OK, this doesn’t apply to me.” Well think again, because I have experienced first-hand convos with younger handlers on what they are wearing. Let’s face it, whether you’re a boy or a girl, a lady or a gentleman, what we wear inside the ring does matter!

To Pin or Not to Pin
There has been a lot of debate on social media about whether or not handlers should wear their AKC Junior Showmanship pins in the ring. My question is, “Why not?” I honestly cannot think of one good reason that it would be a negative thing. After all, it’s kind of silly to think it would be bad since the AKC provides them for you to wear, right? Many suggest that it may come off as looking like you’re an amateur handler, but why not show your support and pride in the one thing that many believe is keeping our sport alive – you, the junior handlers?

A young male handler sports these ever-so-classic shoes in the Juniors ring.

For the Fellas
If you ask me, the fellas have it made! One word: suits. Seriously, you can do so much more in a suit, so you might as well look good while doing it! Spice up your outfit up with a personal touch of some sort that will help you to stand out, but in a good way. You may even plan a day to wear something goofy with your other friends by having a wild sock or bowtie day. Those kinds of things keep it light, even though you know you will be competing!

This skirt may be too much for some people, but this time it worked!

Little Ladies

It’s safe to say that girls worry the most about what they will wear in the ring. It can be so hard to find the right outfits for young ladies to wear in the ring, so mixing and matching is the only way to go. The main goal is to keep it professional, but with a kick of freshness. Just be sure to wear clothes that will not distract your four-legged partners. And remember, finding girls’ suits for the ring becomes much easier as we get older, believe me!

When it comes right down to it, I think we can all agree that the most important thing to remember is that we not only want our dogs to look their best in the ring, we can also take pride in how we’re dressed as well.

After all, Dogs Freakin’ Rule!

Written by

Kayla Bertagnolli is a 23-year-old from Ogden, UT, who's been involved in the dog show world her whole life. A former junior handler who learned about breeding Beagles from her mother Leah, she assisted several professional handlers and is currently working to become a Junior Showmanship judge. Kayla is passionate about photography and writes the twice-weekly blog, DFR. She plans to continue breeding and showing, and expects to stay involved in dogs "for life!"
Comments
  • Alxe Noden June 13, 2013 at 11:39 AM

    You might mention that there are a lot of second-hand and even never-worn suits for sale on certain Facebook sites, like Suit up Sistas and BIS Show Suits; they often have small or even junior’s sizes that would suit a junior (female) handler, for very reasonable prices.

  • Pam July 24, 2014 at 10:23 AM

    I have always wondered who wrote the “rule” that all women must wear knee-length A-line or straight skirt suits in the ring. Frankly, the styles/length are NOT flattering to many women and are not necessarily easy to handle in gracefully and modestly. A fuller or divided skirt is much easier and – quite honestly – more attractive on many women.

    • Fiona ni'Giollarua January 16, 2015 at 9:27 AM

      A fuller skirt, while more flattering, may move too much and become a distraction to the judge or worse, fly around obscuring the dog…or, the dog could spook at all of the moving fabric, or grab at it while he is moving thinking it is something to play with ( I have seen this happen). The idea is to look professional, and still have attire that allows one to move freely whatever the breed requires, bend over , bend down, kneel on the ground….a fuller skirt often gets in the way.

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