There is a fine distinction between country-chic, and full on horse girl territory. I say this tongue in cheek as a former horse girl myself. My entire childhood I truly believed that one day I would have a pony with every ounce of certainty in my being. This was helped by visits to my grandparents Virginia farm and visiting my aunt at her job running a therapeutic riding program. From 11-14 I took riding lessons and went to horseback riding camp in the summers. Though I drew line at wearing jodhpurs to school because even as a pre-teen I knew that particular sartorial choice would be a one way ticket to ostracization. There was a pause in high-school during which I focused on my studies, running cross country, having a social life. Not to mention, being afflicted with that common ailment to teenage girls known as ‘being horrendously self conscious’.
Fast forward to university years at St Andrews in Scotland, every Spring there was an annual polo match and we would pull on our tall boots and sip cheap Prosecco in a field come rain or shine (somehow even when the sun was out there would still be mud everywhere). And for the past few summers I ventured into the Big Horn Mountains for a week of moonlighting as a cowboy on a dude ranch in Wyoming. Present day living in the District of Columbia, I mainly keep to a city chic uniform, but I love driving out to the Virginia countryside to tour around the mountains, fields, vineyards, breweries, antique shops, farm stands and pubs.
Over the course of my visits I’ve noticed that the classic countryside attire, often equestrian inspired, is the perfect late winter and early spring wardrobe. Tall boots to keep your feet dry from snow, rain and mud. Layers of sweaters, and jackets in tweeds and waxed canvas. Sturdy denim and thick, comfy fleece leggings for time spent outside. I realized it’s the perfect style for late winter and early spring, when the weather can be mercurial and the skies gray before the sunshine, blossoms and cottage core dresses of late Spring. Not to mention some of the world’s greatest fashion houses got their start in saddlery, Hermes and Gucci, while Burberry got their start in practical outwear. The key is to find a balance, so that you look more modern Princess Diana versus an extra in Flicka. This includes combining heritage equestrian pieces and motifs, with other designs whether they are classic, bohemian or edgy.
My outfit pictured here combines equestrian staples tall black riding boots and tweed blazer, with my feminine white mini dress with a lace collar and my burgundy Strathberry Nano Tote. The blazer is longer than the average riding jacket, and keeps the look from being too reserved. It all ties into together because the gold bar detail central to the Scottish brand’s design resembles the metal used in a horse’s bridle.
If you want to bring a 1980s vibe combine your belted mom jeans with your riding boots or Hunter wellies, a turtle neck, wool blazer or canvas jacket, ponytail, gold earrings and for bonus points a saddle bag. For a dressier option wear a bold printed silk shirt dress (think silk scarf) and short lace up boots, plaid overcoat and a felt hat, perfect for attending races, polo matches or fancy brunch at a lovely countryside restaurant.
The final element of this equestrian inspired style is to channel just a little quirk and irreverence. You might step in mud, your hair might get a little windblown, or you may get entirely upstaged by the animals when you go to take pictures. In my case the latter most definitely happened courtesy of these two horses and Alex the goat. Shrug, smile and pour yourself a pint.