You can absolutely wear the classy look while doing jumpers, you just don't have to.
The primary difference is that in the hunter classes you are judge on form, in jumpers you are judged on performance.
In hunters, you can ride a beautiful round with auto lead changes, correct striding between jumps etc. and still do pretty well having a fence down.
In jumpers, no one cares if you are on the wrong lead as long as you clear the fence. If the fence stays up and you have put some bizarro striding in there and it was a miracle the fence stayed up - fine. The fence is up and that's all that matters.
However, to do well, all of the things that apply to hunters, should be used in jumpers. You are not going to be terribly successful if a rider is hanging on for dear life and barely making it around the course.
Hunters is also judged on turnout, it's important for riders to to present their horse in an expected way, and attire tends to be fashionable.
Jumpers is not like that as you are only judged on performance. There's no need to braid, and you can wear half chaps if you want to - however I believe that any horse showing at any level should be well turned out.
From what I have personally witnessed, it's not always clear why someone places over another person in the hunter classes.
For me, personally, I have no desire to compete in hunter classes. I really don't give a hoot if my toe is turned out slightly or anything else. I'd much rather be judged on my results.
ETA - Hunters is pretty much an American thing, so I am still learning about it myself. So I might be off on some points, but it's my general understanding of it.
I felt the need to correct a few details off this response, I think the one Maura was talking about.
First of all, at schooling shows and sometime times smaller rated shows jumpers do wear polos. But there are a lot of rated shows were most of the jumpers wear shirts and coats too. I was at a show where the judge insisted that people were not allowed to wear their show shirt collars hanging open! He insisted that if you had a show shirt it must be buttoned. I think it's a bit of a misconception that jumpers are always so relaxed. Although you rarely hear of a hunter rider enter the rated ring without a coat so I suppose In comparison it is. What's important in hunter dress is not what's fashionable, it's what's traditional. Think very understated dark coat, beige pants, black helmet. Yes what's in style is important because you don't want to stand out. I'm not naive and I have what's in style. But the focus is to highlight the horse, so clothes are very subtle so you don't detract from that.
Also hunters are NOT judged on the riders positions. Heck a lot of hunter pros have terrible positions simply bc they aren't being judged on it themselves and they focus just on how the horse is going. The round is judged purely on how the horse's performance. Form and movement is very important, unlike a jumper, but the performance is what is being judged and perfection is what is being sought after. You can have the most beautiful round of your life and a chipped distance on the last jump or a simple swap in a line can cost you a ribbon. Knocking a rail down is penalized quite heavily. Your score in a hunter round is out of 100 points. A knocked rail drops you to at least a 50. And that's if everything else goes well. A hard rub is up to the judges discretion of how much is counted off but can be heavily penalized as well.
Hunter judging is not willy nilly whatever the judge likes. There is a scoring system out of 100 and once you know what is being judged its not terribly difficult to know who's going to pin where. It's not as cut and dry as a jumper round bc a few things are left to a judges discretion. But usually it's a question of, one horse had a late change. One horse had a long distance. Which fault is worse? Different judges will have different opinions. But everyone agrees a bad distance is bad. Not swapping a lead is bad. There is a rule book and countless books and judges clinics should you ever decide to understand what judges are looking for. Posted via Mobile Device