Thursday, January 12, 2012

All the Pretty Things

I’ve always loved fashion and clothes. It’s genetic; my grandmother owned a shop filled with fabulous women’s wear, so my mother grew up with first hand access to the latest styles. As a child, one of the highlights of going to visit my grandmother in the north of England was diving into a big wooden trunk filled with dozens of party dresses my mother wore to dances in the nineteen-fifties, selecting something twirly-skirted and fabulous, then wiggling into it before catwalking up and down the long hallway that overlooked a big square patio. Sometimes my friend Jillian would come over from across the street and we’d play on the swing in the garden, enjoying the way the wind whooshed with my mother’s satins and silks. In fact, until recently I still had a beautiful black lace outfit my mother wore to a particularly special party, but since it didn’t fit me or my daughter, I gave it to my slinky-figured younger sister who wowed the crowds when she wore it to a party last summer.

As I get older I don’t buy as many clothes as I used to. While lovely little designer dresses still tug at my heartstrings once in a while, most of the time I’ll just give them an amorous fondle and put them back on the rail, because chances are I’d wear them once in a blue moon, so what’s the point? My wall to wall wardrobe is filled with clothes that I’ve had for years but hardly ever wear, because - most of the time - my lifestyle revolves around jeans and jodhpurs and sweaters and tee-shirts. Where do I go day, after day? I go to the stables, and I go grocery shopping. Apart from occasional weekend evenings when my husband and I will see friends or maybe go to a restaurant, that’s about it.

Nevertheless, wherever I go, whatever I do, I always like to look nicely put together. And since the thing I do most is ride, I like to look nice while doing it. Although I tend not to be organized enough to match my clothing colour scheme to my horse’s colour scheme on a day to day basis (I have a friend who is!), I’m picky enough to switch a red fleece blanket for a navy blue one if I happen to be wearing my plum riding coat instead of my dark green one. I wouldn’t want to give Qrac, myself or anyone around us a colour-clashing induced headache!

I’m gradually developing a pretty impressive collection of colour-coordinated saddle blankets and bandages. It’s probably a dressage thing, but I love to see Qrac elegantly decked out. I love grooming him until he’s super-shiny, painting his feet with black hoof oil, and spend ages brushing out his long, thick mane and tail, occasionally using a dollop of Cowboy Magic (I love that stuff! They don’t sell it here, so I brought a huge bottle back from America when I visited last summer) for a super-swishy effect. When it comes to tacking up, if I don’t have bandages to match a particular saddle-blanket, I’ll compromise with white or off-white. I go through phases when I like to dress him in bright colours, such as the bright turquoise he’s wearing in this photo…

Most of the time, however, I prefer more subdued, classical colours. Last weekend I bought a lovely sandy coloured saddle-blanket edged with white and pale blue, which is great as it works with quite a few sets of bandages. I also bought a vanilla coloured one edged with blue striped piping that will look gorgeous with matching vanilla bandages! I also ordered a lovely black one edged with silver, which I’m considering having embroidered with his name. It probably sounds really silly, but when I’m driving to the stables, I often find myself planning Qrac’s “outfit” for
the day. Shall I dress him in the dark grey with the white edge? The chocolate brown?
How about bright red? Or maybe that nice old brown and blue saddle blanket? He’s not worn that one in a while. Hmmm… Decisions, decisions!

How about you? Are you interested in clothes? Do you like to play dress-up with your horse?


jenj said...

I confess, I don't match, ever. Or if I do, it's accidental. I think it's because most of the time, I ride after all the barn chores are done and I tend to wear comfortable grubby clothes for barn chores... and then the comfortable grubby clothes just transition to horseback. Sad, eh?

But I must say, you and Qrac look so classy that I'm inspired to try a little harder to dress nicely when we ride!

Francesca Prescott said...

Jenj! It's not sad, it's just life! I don't do barn chores because, well, I don't have a barn. And I guess I've always been quite a girlie girl, so now that the only place I go to is the stables, I like to make a bit of an effort. It's just for me; I'm not looking to impress anyone. And as I'm not getting any younger, I think it helps maintain my self-esteem.

Thanks for reading!

Laura Crum said...

Francesca--You always make me smile. I love your posts! I confess, I like clothes, too, in my own weird way. Like you, I don't buy many "dress up" clothes, because I rarely have a place to wear them. But I am sort of a fabric snob, and my casual T-shirts and blouses must be just the right color and a "natural" fabric. I won't wear synthetics. Its got to be cotton, linen or silk. And its got to have a flattering cut and be super comfortable. That said, I don't look fashionable--I tend to aim for more of the " colorful ethnic peasant" effect.

And no, I don't fuss with the horses. I think showing for so many years (and the money I spent on nice tack) sort of burnt me out on that. I have old, comfortable gear that fits the horses (and me) well and that's that. I rarely comb the tails or manes (only if they have a knot). And Sunny has a spectacular mane(!) I'm just into low maintenance horse care. I do the things that are important for their health and well being, and don't worry about the cosmetics. I have a friend who likes to make her horses look pretty (like you) and I'm always inviting her to come "do" mine. Funny how she never takes me up on it (!)

TBDancer said...

I am currently working on losing weight so when I put on my breeches (mainly tans, browns and grays) I do not look like I'm trying to fit 50# of mud in a 5# sack. I prefer older breeches with Spandex that is losing its will to live so I don't cut off the circulation in my lower half when I driving to/from a lesson.

I had to have gussets put in my VERY relaxed Effingham field boots (circa 1998) because I could not pull them up over my newly fatted calves--I will admit the cobbler caused part of that problem because he used steam on the lining when he restitched the pull tabs. But even with the gussets, the boots are tight. I have to walk around in them to get the feeling back in my feet.

Bottom line (no pun intended): Matching is the LAST thing I'm concerned about at this point, though everything is clean and tucked in and I do wear a belt. The horse is ALWAYS perfect (chestnut with chrome), so I prefer people look at HIM when we ride ;o)

Francesca Prescott said...

Laura, thanks! I don't wear synthetics either. Like you I'm a fabric snob. I looooove cashmere in the winter, and cotton in the summer. Although I guess I ride in new technical fabrics come to think of it...they let the sweat out better than wool!

I also tend towards colorful ethnic peasant, like you. I love fringes on things!

Francesca Prescott said...

TBdancer, your comment made me giggle; so funny! Aww, bless you! I know what you mean about trying to lose weight. I ate a ton of chocolate over Christmas and am trying to stay away from the damn stuff. It should be banned, and we should only be allowed to eat...salad!!!

Unknown said...

Hi I'm a show jumping rider from Italy =)
I love the first pictures!
keep in touch:

see you soon =)

Francesca Prescott said...

Ciao Gaia, la figlia della mia sorella si chiama anche lei Gaia! Dove sei in Italia? Io sone in Swizerra, vicino a Ginevra :) Sono contenta di incontrati e andro subito a vedere il tuo blog.

AareneX said...

You make me laugh, because *I* am a fabric snob as well...but the OPPOSITE kind of fabric snob:

It's all synthetic, all the time with me, at least in winter. Polarfleece, Capilene, and Goretex top of the list of must-have, don't-leave-home-without. Plastic coatings are my friends here in the Swampland; everything else leaks and rots.

As for color, if it ain't purple and/or black, why bother? That includes not only my breeches and shirts, but also saddle pad, bridle, reins, breast collar and beyond! At least, there's rarely confusion about who owns a particular piece of purple tack!

Cassie said...

While I don't match my clothes to my horse, I spend great effort making sure their wraps and saddle pads match and look great on them. My thoroughbred is dark bay and he wears my favorite football team's (the Chargers) colors of blue and yello. My quarter horse is chesnut and wears royal blue or turquiose.

Anonymous said...

Since I got my horse my wardrobe has been divided into two categories: clothing with a horse, horseshoe, or horse saying on it and clothing that is suitable to wear to work. I don't coordinate what I wear with what my horse is wearing but I do insist that my buckskin has a black halter with a Navajo pattern on it and a black lead rope.

White Horse Pilgrim said...

My grandmother was the lingerie buyer for an up-market ladies clothing store. However she retired before my cousins and I had girlfriends so we didn't her wares much attention.

I try to match leather chaps and boots to saddle at least. Other than that, it's fleece or cotton. Green to match the countryside or black to go with the leather. Men can get away with so much. I have more footwear for riding than to wear to the office.

Now what I would like to see is a Tolkien-themed riding clothes collection. Tall boots like Aragorn's, smart Elven tunics, a warm cloak for winter, stuff like that. When will someone make this stuff?

Laura Crum said...

White Horse Pilgrim--I would buy the Tolkien themed riding clothes for sure. That sounds like fun. I currently ride in fleece lined leather boots, cropped cotton pants and some sort of peasant blouse with a quilted vest for warmth--my husband once suggested I looked like a character from "The Hobbit", so I have a start on it.

Francesca Prescott said...

Aarene, yes to Goretex! It's freezing in the arena at my stables, so I bought a pair of Pikeur jodpurs with a wind-proof coating, probably Goretex or something like that. They're also fleece lined, and I love them.

Purple and black, hey? How imperial!! Thanks for reading :)

Francesca Prescott said...

Cassie, you sound like me when it comes to dressing up your horses. Love the idea of your TB wearing your favourite team's colours! I'm not into any particular football team here, nor any other sports' colours...Bummer!

Francesca Prescott said...

1stHorse: I really like those Navajo patterns on Western tack, they look really pretty. When I visited the US last summer I was very tempted to buy some of your Native American patterned stuff, but it just doesn't fit over here, especially not on the dressage scene. I do love it though.

Francesca Prescott said...

White Horse Pilgrim: my grandmother's sister (my great-aunt) had a lingerie shop just down the road from my grandmothers! She had all sorts of lovely things, but like you I was too young to appreciate any of them at the time. But I do remember that she sent me my very first teeny-tiny bras!!!

Tolkien themed wear sounds very cinematographic; I bet you could buy things like from professional costume people who work on movies. Very cool idea!

horsegenes said...

Clothes.... I must confess that I am on a first name basis with Eddie Bauer. He sends me an email almost everyday.
I love the jewel tones and you will often see Mr. Semper dressed in a royal purple or burgundy. Since he is mostly white I can pretty much get away with anything. His favorite turn out sheet only comes in black. Sigh. And no plaid for us - at all every.

My husband should be estactic that I have chose to ride working cow horse and ranch versatility. They kind of frown on the fru-fru stuff. A nicely matched saddle blanket and outfit with no bling is about as exciting as we get.

He did accuse me of wearing teenager jeans a while back because they had a few rhinestones on them. Instead of taking offense I decided to take it as a compliment on my butt and not the fact that he thought I was dressed inappropriately for my age. :)

Funder said...

I'm so far behind, but I gotta say, Francesca, I'm really glad you're half a world away from me. You'd cry if you saw my tack and the clothes I choose to ride in! You and Qrac look absolutely amazing :)