March 2015 - Wear It Well!
Written by Sydney Callaway
Monday, 02 March 2015 02:07
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Hunter/jumper style icons say confidence is the best accessory.

Author Sydney Callaway admits she’s got 'an obsession' with show coats. She’s pictured here in a green Winston coat, a favorite for the equitation division. Photo: Elane DeSanti

by Sydney Callaway

When I think of equestrian fashion, an image of a classical equestrian outfit comes to mind. Tan breeches and a navy blue coat, paired with a crisp white collared shirt, sleek riding boots and a velvet hunt cap. While this picture is still the pinnacle of quintessential show jumping attire, there has arisen a new realm of equestrian fashion.

For example, a multitude of hunt coat options can now be found at any horse show vendor in all different styles, cuts and colors. Whether it’s the short style Animo coats, favored by jumper riders, to the machine washable, lightweight Grand Prix coats, to the customized and stunning Allon coats, perfect for the equitation and hunter rings, there is a style and color befitting everyone.  Breeches are now offered in an array of colors, inside grips now have unique materials to ensure better grip, UV blocking fabrics and breathable fabric to ensure comfortable wear all day long.

All of these new clothing styles and trends also allow for more freedom in the way one dresses, both in and out of the show ring. And whether you are a hunter, jumper or equitation rider, it is important to represent yourself properly through your attire and style.

Sydney’s Allon Equestrian Just World coat is perfect for jumper competition. She also has Allons in navy and brown, at last count anyway. Photo: Abby Jorgensen

As for myself, I am not much of a fashionista. Having spent many years in the equitation ring, I do not stray far from the classic white shirt and tan breeches. However, I do own seven different hunt coats, and quite often wear several different coats in a horse show week. I try to match the style and color of the coat to the horse and class: a green Winston coat with a bay horse, a black Animo coat in the jumper ring, my Young Rider Grand Prix coat goes with my Young Rider bonnet on Classic day. Clearly, I have a slight fixation on hunt coats!

But there is more to equestrian fashion than hunt coats and colored pants. There are many riders out there who exhibit excellent equestrian taste and style. I observe them in envy and awe, as dirt and grass stains seem to be repelled from their clothing and their boots never lose their luster.

I chose to interview four riders whom I have admired for many years for their effortless sense of style. I hope that they can give us all the inside scoop on how they developed their style, how they piece together outfits and much more.

Mackenzie Drazan. Photo: Conan Thai

First up is my friend Mackenzie Drazan. She’s an Amateur Owner Jumper rider who trains with Karen Healey and Teal Orlin. When she’s not riding, she’s modeling!

Sydney: We have all seen the latest runways graced with models in everything from mock tall boots, to leggings with inseam patches and even velvet helmets!  Being from the world of high fashion and runway shows, how do you feel equestrian style has influenced the high fashion world?

Mackenzie: The fashion industry has always had a fascination with the equestrian world and our style. A lot of fashion design has to do with the woman the designer has in mind. The clothes embody her persona. Many designers are in awe of the elegance of our sport and thus they like to incorporate an “equestrian vibe” in their lines because they feel that it brings an added touch of elegance on a more sporty, casual level.

They say that the better we look, the better we feel, the better we ride. Mackenzie demonstrates that here at a show in San Juan Capistrano. Photo: Conan Thai

Sydney: What do you think are the fashion Do’s and Don’ts of the equestrian world? How would you define your personal style?

Mackenzie: I think that the move to more modern fabrics and designs and new textures has allowed for a lot of flexibility and personal style to show through in show clothing. I always love to see someone who has developed their own personal style when it comes to show clothes as I think the individual element is cool. Then again, I do not always agree with some people’s choices, but I applaud their effort to be unique. I personally prefer a more traditional style but am always excited to add in something different and more modern.

Sydney: Why is fashion important to you? Why do you think it is important to dress well?

Mackenzie: Fashion is a fun way to express yourself through clothing, and can give a person self-confidence. I also think that dressing nicely is a way of showing respect to your peers.

Sydney: How does your fashion taste influence your horse’s apparel?

Mackenzie: I think that my horses and I both tend to be on the more sporty side of traditional.

Sydney: Do you have any person/any thing that inspires your style?

Mackenzie: I think that a person’s style is constantly changing, at least for me it is. Everyday you’re exposed to so many different styles and personalities that you draw upon subconsciously.

Sydney: Are there any new trends that you have taken a preference towards? For example, short coats vs. long coats, unique shirt patterns, new boots, helmet colors/designs…

Mackenzie: I really think it depends on your body type whether a short coat or long coat is better for you. I personally find that most of my coats are on the shorter side although I do like the idea of a slightly longer coat better. I’m currently in love with charcoal grey leather La Mundial tall boots with a matte black croc cuff and black piping. The subtle change in tones is a fun way to be different without straying too far from traditional. I am also a fan of my bright turquoise silk lapels on my Lavaliere hunt coat. I think the little pop of color is fun while the rest of the coat is very traditional.

Saree Kayne poses with her fiance Michael Gregory and her recently retired jumper, Saphir 270. She’s wearing a J.Crew turtleneck and LeFash breeches.

Saree Kayne is another Amateur Owner Jumper rider. She trains with Dick Carvin, Susie Schroer and Francie Steinwedell-Carvin at Meadow Grove Farm and is just stepping into the small Grand Prix classes.

Sydney: How would you describe your interest in fashion?

Saree: I have always loved fashion, mostly because it feels like a natural expression of who I am. I like getting dressed in the mornings, but I try to never take it too seriously. My sister, Jenni Kayne, is a fashion designer, so I guess it runs in the family, too!

Sydney: One of my favorite equestrian looks of all time was an outfit you wore at Showpark.  You were wearing a grey Animo coat with a grey, pin stripped shirt and a tie! I subsequently learned that you actually designed these shirts.  Tell me about how that came to be.

Saree Kayne wears the shirt and matching tie she and Laurel Chad designed while competing at the Longines Masters Grand Slam in Los Angeles.

Saree: Laurel Chad (a fellow rider, mother to Kara and Bretton Chad, and, in my opinion, the most fashionable equestrian out there) and I have long loved to scheme up equestrian designs and try new ideas out. Laurel and I both wanted something a little different for a show shirt, so we decided to design and manufacture shirts with matching ties. So far we have only made them for us, but we are toying with the idea of producing more. They are just about the only thing I show in these days.

Sydney: What do you think are the fashion Do’s and Don’ts of the equestrian world?

Saree: I have always loved riding clothes for their simplicity and beauty. They are classic, and in many ways have barely changed in several hundred years. My thinking around riding clothes has always been stick with the classics. I tend to avoid patterns, bling and overly loud colors. I stick with more muted, natural tones and play with mixing different shades. My motto is always that I should be able to wear my riding clothes all day long, after leaving the barn, and not feel utterly ridiculous or like a spectacle in non-riding environments.

Sydney: What are you favorite brands, and why?

Saree: At the barn and on hacking days I tend to wear J. Crew Tissue Turtleneck Tees. They are lightweight, comfortable and keep you out of the sun. I normally wear them with colored breeches by Le Fash, Equiline or Pikeur. At the shows I normally wear one of my custom shirts, tan or white breeches by the same companies and a simple Animo lightweight jacket. I also like Cavalleria Toscana, though their breeches are not the best fit for me. And I ride in very plain Sergio Grasso boots, in brown or black.

Sydney: How does your fashion taste influence your horse’s apparel?

Saree: I try to keep it simple with the horses. Beautiful, classic leather tack with minimal adornments. Quality over flashiness.

'You wear the garment. It’s not the garment wears you!' Show jumper Karl Cook wears a military-inspired coat of his own design, while walking the course at the LA Masters Grand Prix in September. Photo: Kim F Miller

Karl Cook is an accomplished Grand Prix Rider well known for his sense of style and bold choices.

Sydney: I know you design a lot of your own riding attire. What motivated you to do that?

Karl: I started to design things for myself because there wasn’t what I wanted out there and I had ideas in my head. So I did what I could and brought my ideas to life and I am working to do the same thing on a larger scale.

Sydney: Is there one item that you always wear and, if so, why?

Karl: I wear a silver bracelet on my left wrist. I had it made last summer by a small jeweler in Los Angeles. It’s really tight fitting and I have to bend the bracelet to get it off my wrist and it has not come off since the end of August. I wear it because I like it and, the more I wear it, the more worn it looks and, therefore, the cooler it looks, or at least cooler to me.

Sydney: What are your Dos and Don’ts?

Karl: Fashion Don’ts would be coats that are too tight for people who should not wear tight coats, short coats and bedazzled coats. I will never do a coat with sequins. I have been asked a few times and I always respond with “Go buy an Equiline instead.” Fashion Dos: make things a representation of who you are not who you think you should be.

Sydney: Any favorite brands?

Karl: No. That’s why I have worked so hard with my friends to create my own.

Sydney: What’s your definition of fashion?

Karl: Fashion is an outward expression of who you are and I think that is important. If you are confident in what you are wearing, more often than not you are a confident person. Wearing something you enjoy and you think looks good always increases your confidence and that is never a bad thing.

Sydney: Where did your interest in fashion originate?

Karl: From the reality that what I wanted to wear was not out there, and I knew it wouldn’t be out there unless I designed it myself. To design well, it helps to have a “why not?” brain. When confronted with a thought or a problem you think “Why not try this or that” instead of thinking “why do that or why try that?” For me, thinking why not is very important to design: Why not have a coat made out of this material? Why not change the pattern to make the seam lines look this way? Why not make a coat out of denim? If it doesn’t work it doesn’t work, but at least you allowed yourself the chance for an idea to leave your head so you can see it with your eyes. Some ideas -- most ideas -- don’t work, but at least you had the guts to give it a shot.

Sydney: Can you share some tips for someone to lead a more fashion forward life?

Karl: Understand what clothing makes you comfortable, not just physically, but confidence-wise. Be confident in whatever you wear no matter what, even if everyone else doesn’t like it. That should not affect your opinion. Always, always, always wear whatever you are wearing. You wear the garment, not the garment wears you!

Dressed For Success: Ecole Lathrop of Valencia Sport Saddlery and friend and client Shari Roseboom share a moment at HITS Thermal. Outfitted by Ecole, Shari is wearing a GPA Speed Air Evolution helmet, Grand Prix Tech Lite hunter shadbelly with custom boucle vest points. Her Elton pique stock tie is fastened with an antique jeweled stock pin and she’s wearing Pikeur breeches and Sergio Grasso field boots. Ecole is wearing a Samshield Alcantara helmet, Grand Prix classic hunt coat in hunter green, a traditional ratcatcher show shirt by Beacon Hill and a pair of custom Vogel field boots. Photo: Holly Casner

Ecole Lathrop owns Valencia Sport Saddlery in the Los Angeles area’s Lake View Terrace. She is also an amateur hunter rider in training with Archie Cox.

Sydney: Why did you want to open up a saddlery store?

Ecole: I opened Valencia Sport Saddlery 12 years ago to help people enjoy the fun of horses.

Sydney: I know you help style a lot of riders in and around the West Coast.  What are some key style tips and secrets that you give these riders?

Ecole: Styling riders in and out of the show ring is something I love to do. At VSS, we believe when you look good, you ride better! Giving riders a performance edge by getting them into apparel and equipment that fits and feels good is our passion.

Sydney: What is your favorite universal style that looks good on everyone?

Ecole: Fine fabrics and great tailoring never go out of style and look good on everyone.

Sydney: Why is it important to dress well?

Ecole: Dressing well for horseback riding is a must! It is a sign of respect for our noble horses.

Sydney: What makes equestrian fashion unique?

Ecole: The inimitable chic style created from necessary function... horseback riding.

Sydney: There has been a huge surge of equestrian style clothes in the fashion world and street fashion as well, how do you feel the fashion world has subsequently influenced equestrian fashion?

Ecole: Equestrians are authentic. Perennially, designers borrow our equestrian style for their fashion collections. The influx of color into equestrian style is usually what is borrowed from the fashion world.

Sydney: Why is fashion important to you?

Ecole: Fashion is important to me as a creative outlet for personality, mood and desires. Being surrounded by beautiful fabrics, textures and style is a happy choice.

Sydney: What is your opinion on matching your outfit with your horse’s tack/equipment?

Ecole: I’m not a fan of matching our outfits with our horse’s tack and equipment. Coming from the hunter ring, I prefer showing off our beautiful horses, not detracting from the overall picture. Complementing them is always a better choice than matching.

Sydney: How does your fashion taste influence your horse’s apparel?

Ecole: You will always see plaids and blues and yellows in my horse’s apparel. My personal faves!

Sydney: Do you have any person/any thing that inspires your style?

Ecole: My style has been inspired by horses, Ralph Lauren, country living, competition and travel.

Sydney: How would you describe your own personal style?

Ecole: I’d say my own style could be described as comfortable with a flair for all things equestrian. I like leather, brass, velvet, plaid, vintage rosettes, denim, rich textures and traditional patterns.

Sydney: Are there any tips you have for someone who wants to lead a more fashion-forward life?

Ecole: I think the easiest way to be fashionable is to dress with confidence. Wear what makes you feel good, what motivates you to move forward.

Sydney: What is your most favorite riding apparel piece, and why?

Ecole: I just can’t pick one piece. I do have a custom belt buckle with my initials that goes on almost every ride with me. Would you believe there’s a pair of socks in my drawer going on 10-plus years that get pulled out when I think I need a bit of luck. And my shadbelly.

Sydney: Does your clothing style differ from the horse show to the barn?

Ecole: Not much. Breeches, polo, sweater, loafers, barn tote is pretty much my uniform.

Thanks to Mackenzie, Saree, Karl and Ecole for all these great insights on equestrian fashion and the hows and whys of looking great in the arena, at the barn and well beyond.

Author Sydney Callaway rides with Newmarket in San Diego and just completed a very successful junior career. Highlights included earning the California Professional Horsemen’s Association’s Special Achievement Award and the chance to compete at the Paris Gucci Masters, an experience she detailed beautifully in our February issue.