My Spring 2018 Equestrian Style

If y’all don’t realize by now that I LOVE CLOTHES, I might consider you illiterate. And as the seasons change, so do the styles. While I am obsessed with the Gucci FW 2018 collection, it’s not practical for riding (I am not being totally ironic here — I really am obsessed with it and I think the collection and its inspiration are pure, badass art).

But there are some ready-to-wear picks for this spring that I’ve had my eyes on — not all are necessarily “new” for spring but I wouldn’t mind if any of these wound up in my riding wardrobe between now and June.

I do not wear riding tights. I haven’t seen very many that I would be willing to wear, either, until I picked up on Botori┬ávia Instagram and the look left me wanting a pair. Tights with actual knee patches and a phone pocket? Yes! I can definitely see myself wearing these.

Okay, but back to breeches … I have, over the years, struggled with how the calves of breeches fit me. Either they are too short or too baggy. I have been on the hunt for a pair of tan breeches that fit my waist, AND my calf, aren’t too thick, and don’t raid my wallet. I may take a chance on these Equine Couture Beatta breeches. Review forthcoming? Perhaps …

But we can’t go topless on a horse. At least, I can’t. More like I won’t, really. I have been impressed lately with how RJ Classics has really stepped up their style game. Couple that with my love of pattern, and I am lusting after the Lane shirt. This pattern is definitely my favorite and so tasteful.

So this next one … if you are even remotely active on social media and you have an ex-racehorse, you are probably obsessed with this shirt that Mango Bay Design posted yesterday. If you want my world view on a t-shirt, this would be it.

Now that we are almost completely dressed, on to the accessories! Belt purses are a thing, have you noticed? This is one of those items that I have been on the fence about for a long time because I am not sure I really need one, but it would be nice to have my phone with me even while riding yet not shoved into a breeches pocket where it can (and does) bounce out and fly into the arena footing. I haven’t ever really seen one that calls to me until I saw this one from Asmar. I might be a convert.

We can’t ride without helmets. I love my GPA First Lady. I love sparkly things. What do you think comes next?

Last … is it possible to get excited about socks? For me, yes. Usually about socks with a cute pattern or print on them. Those are not the socks I am talking about today. Again, I ran across these on Instagram and these seem like the most well-thought-out socks ever designed for riders. The Achilles pad is especially appealing to me. Sometimes I am in tall boots for hours at a stretch, and my Achilles is the first thing to get ouchy from that. I think these socks could fix that issue.

What do y’all have your eyes on for adding to your riding attire collection?

My Favorite Color is Plaid: SmartPak Piper Plaid Full-seat Breeches

plaidfullseatsI do really love plaid (perhaps it is in my Scots-Irish DNA?), but until recently I had never owned a pair of plaid breeches, even though they have been around since forever. What I have owned, though, is full-seat breeches. Even though I spend all my time in Jumperland now and wouldn’t show in them, full-seat breeches are warmer than knee-patch breeches, but less bulky than fleecy winter breeches, and therefore I like to wear them when it’s cold.

But you know, full-seat breeches are always more expensive than knee-patch breeches! If I’m only wearing these for a short part of the year (hopefully), I need an economical option. For the price, the SmartPak Piper full-seat breeches looked pretty good. But I’ll be honest, I wasn’t too sure about trying them out at first. I had one pair of Pipers that I thought were in my size, but I didn’t like the fit, and the fabric construction was partially polyester. Polyester and I definitely do not get along in the summer, moisture-wicking properties or not. Every time I see “breathable” in a garment’s description, and then see that polyester is part of the fabric construction, I just skip right over it. “Breathable,” to me, is a lie if it’s polyester.

But the reality is, all of the more athletic fabrics have polyester in them, and so do many of the newer breeches that use these types of athletic fabrics. While there are many polyester-free breech options in a variety of price ranges, some of those same options are usually really, really cold to wear in the winter. Like, TS Trophy Hunters, I love you so much I want to marry you, but damn, wearing you on really cold days (like, below 60F–I AM from Texas) is like getting a pair of pantyhose wet, putting it in the freezer for a few hours, and then pulling them on and stepping outside during a blizzard. I don’t know how it is possible that the Trophy Hunters actively make my ass colder, but I’ll just call it a bad case of perception-is-reality. (Please don’t break up with me, Trophy Hunters–I need you in the summer!) Thus, I am resigned to wearing polyester blends in the winter because those same properties that aggravate my skin in the summer keep me much, much warmer in the winter.

Re-enter the SmartPak Piper breeches. I bought my first pair in June of 2013, when there weren’t quite so many colors or reviews. Today, the reviews number in the hundreds, many of which suggest sizing down for a good fit. So I did, and bought a pair in anthracite/electric coral. The fit problem was solved! With a coupon code and regular customer discount, the Piper plaid full-seat breeches were a bargain, and now that I knew my fit, I ordered them in the brown plaid.

brownplaidThe full seat is brown, and soft and supple (gone are the days of thick, crunchy, leather full-seats!) and the brown plaid even has a little indigo running through it. The piping is this sort-of non-color color I don’t know what to call, like maybe a very pale, soft, dove grey? Regardless, I think the piping is a nice detail. The fit is similar to the knee-patch Pipers, and the breeches have the same built-in sock that fits smoothly under tall boots.

My first ride in them, I had the “stickiness” that full-seats give you, and it was freaking cold outside, yet my lower half was not too cold. The breeches definitely kept me much warmer than TS breeches would have. They were very, very comfortable to ride in, and just to wear around generally. The material is super-stretchy, which is why sizing down is a good idea for some people.

hipinsigniaThe construction seems pretty sturdy, and they hold up well without pilling after multiple washes. I don’t put them in the dryer. There is definitely some excess material at the knees, but fortunately the material is soft enough that the excess didn’t irritate me, or give me rubs under my tall boots. In comparison, I think there is less excess material at the knee with the Piper full-seats than with the knee-patch breeches.

buttinsigniaLike all SmartPak things, the branding is very prominent. If you don’t mind a big ol’ galloping horse embroidered on your butt, and I don’t, then don’t let the branding dissuade you from trying these breeches. (Sorry, the mirror is dirty in the above picture. Maybe I just shouldn’t have tried to take a picture of my rear.) I don’t usually get too dirty at the barn, but who stays totally clean when playing with the ponies? The brown plaid hid any dirt I may have gotten on me. I especially appreciate the 2″-wide waistband, which I find to be much more comfortable, and less constrictive, than narrower waistbands.

Overall, these breeches are an excellent value, and great schooling breeches, if you can find the right fit. SmartPak even provides super-handy breech comparison charts. I don’t know when they started doing this, but I just discovered it, and it is GENIUS! Check out the Full Seat Breeches Comparison Chart! The chart doesn’t include prices, and only includes brands SmartPak stocks, but what an easy way to compare all the breeches you can buy from one store in one place!