Equestrian Chic: Part 1
I was recently invited to the Con Brio Farm just outside London, Ontario to meet with the fabulous Holly and Lori and to learn about the equestrian way of life. It was a fantastic opportunity and the morning I spent at the barn was full of learning and adventure. And that was without me having to hop on a horse…I don’t even want to imagine what would have happened if I did!
My tour guides welcomed me into the barn and I was instantly amazed by the architectural beauty of the structure. While Holly and Lori prepped their horses and the crew cleaned the stables, I took a wander around the facilities.
As an outsider to the equestrian world, I wanted to learn about true equestrian fashion – What are the clothing standards? What are the different outfit components? What makes up the the necessary riding gear? During my visit to the barn, Holly and Lori showed off their riding gear, taught me about the details of their outfits, explained some history about riding and revealed some international riding regulations.
Each morning at the barn begins with a lot of cleaning and prepping of the stables and the horses.
Holly and Lori, who have both been riding their whole lives, looked chic in their tan riding pants and black leather boots while I felt a bit under-dressed in jeans and a Polo. Their love of horses was evident from the moment I met these two ladies. The horses were there to kindly greet me as well.
Although I am a fan of the horses, I am most fascinated by the relationship between fashion and this sport. The ladies explained to me that there are different riding outfits for different competitions. Riding pants are always a must – even for casual practices around the barn – because, among other things, they do not ruin the leather saddles when they rub against them. Helmet regulations vary across the globe. The helmet Holly is wearing in the above photo is safety approved in Europe but not in Canada.
Pant styles vary slightly in terms of pockets, zippers and seams. Lori’s pants (in the photo above) have a front zipper. Her belt buckle is also placed at the front. Holly wears flat front pants with a seam at the side, which allows her to align the buckle of her belt with the zipper seam. Although the black leather riding boots do not come cheap (about $1000!), they can last riders for many years. I overheard several people at the barn commenting on the appearance of the ladies’ boots as they were not polished up-to-standard. Holly and Lori laughed this off but assured me that if they were getting ready for a competition, their boots would have to be cleaned and polished. A good appearance is highly valued at competition time!
Shirts, not from the local Polo Ralph Lauren store as I originally had assumed, are specially crafted and have matching collar bands to cover the buttons at the collar. Although very prim and proper on the outside, the inside of the cuffs and collar are often lined with a contrasting “fun” fabric.
Equestrian fashion is full of surprises. Underneath their (would be better if they were polished) black leather riding boots, Holly and Lori reveal their “wild” boot socks.
Blazer linings are something special too. The purple lining of Lori’s jacket is full of sparkles!
Many blazers are custom made using plaid or striped fabric, usually in a dark fabric. More formal blazers, similar to tuxedo coats, are complete with vest and tails. White pants are for Sunday competitions when riders are expected to wear their “Sunday best”. I joke that they must carry around a Tide bleach pen to keep those white pants stain-free. The ladies admit that they do become quite dirty after a competition but that their outfits are traditional.
Holly and Lori are competitive hunter-jumpers so of course I couldn’t leave the barn before I saw them on their horses – looking chic, of course!
It was an eventful morning at the barn. After our fashion photo shoot was over and we were wrapping things up, we heard yells that coyotes were on the property and wanted to get at the dogs. Before I knew it, everyone was outside scaring away the coyotes. Lori and Holly enter the barn shortly after the initial call for help and their lovely outfits are spotted with mud and dirt. As I freak out about their once pristine white clothes, they just shrug it off and let me know that it’s just “all in a day’s work at the barn”.
I am in awe of the equestrian style and I am very happy that I had the chance to visit with Holly and Lori at Con Brio Farm. If there are any riders out there, please feel free to leave a comment and let me know what I may have missed!
Stay tuned to Fashion in Motion next Monday as I will be posting Equestrian Chic: Part 2. The post will feature connections between true equestrian chic and its followers.
Photo of outside view of barn courtesy of Con Brio Farm.
All other photos courtesy of Jordana.