Equestrian...So hot right now

by Daisy Freund | 10/27/06 5:00am

I could tell something was up a few weeks into the term when I walked into Collis and didn't get so much as a glance. Why? Because usually I turn a few heads. "Who does this girl think she is?" you're probably asking. Well let me add that on this day, as is the case at least five out of seven days a week, I was dressed to ride. I am an Equestrian. A member of that varsity team which so effortlessly combines athletics, animal intuition and now, thanks to the fashion tides of fall 2006, high style. If you follow fashion you know that the equestrian "look" is majorly in, and not just in Paris, Milan and New York. It's officially hit Hanover. That day that I strode into Collis, ready to grab some food before I drove to the barn, I was decked out in my usual uniform during riding season: breeches, half chaps and paddock boots. But I wasn't alone and the other person sporting the "look" was not on my team. In fact, I realized, the reason I wasn't getting any stares was because my uniform was played out in a few variations on at least four people in Collis. Some had high leather boots over jeans, others had them over leggings, and I almost choked on my stir fry as I saw what looked like knee patches on the suspiciously breeches-like pants of another.

It's not that I am shocked to see horsey-gear in fashion because that's nothing new. Riding, despite my abhorrence of this image, is an elitist sport. Some of the most powerful, elegant women of our time have hunted and showed horses and in doing so, made the equestrian outfit synonymous with style. English royals always loved polo and hunting as did America's own royalty, Jackie Kennedy. Some labels are famous just for having that Equestrian accent. Herms, for example, first started business making harnesses, saddles and blankets. They next moved on jockey silks and by the 1920s they were dressing the general public for riding and more. So the look enters and exits the runways, like everything else, in cycles.

What started this resurgence? Well, there's a new line of royal blood hanging out at the barns. Charlotte Casiraghi, the daughter of Princess Caroline, granddaughter of Grace Kelly, is a show jumper in Monaco. Athina De Miranda, the daughter of Aristotle Onassis (note the connection to Jackie O), is a top show jumper and married to one of the best Brazilian riders. And then there's Georgina Bloomberg, the daughter of New York's mayor, who I grew up riding with and is now working hard to get to the Olympics. These girls grace the pages of fashion magazines on a daily basis so it was only a matter of time before their favorite hobbies became inspiration for the designers who dress them.

The equestrian silhouette reared its head in fall 2005 and then came on strong a year later in the lines of DSquared, Balenciaga, Chanel and of course, Herms. The look is classic: fitted jackets, breeches or skinny jeans, tall elegant boots up to the knee and in some extreme cases, gloves and a hunt cap.

Even so, I was surprised to see Dartmouth, a place I don't consider particularly in tune with the less practical side of style, pulling out the riding look right and left. It seems with each day, more Dartmouth girls are pulling on leather boots and striding off to class. It's all summed up by what I heard a girl say as I walked by the other day: "Equestrian is hot right now." Yes, yes it is.