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Kick your equestrian style up a notch (or what not to wear for a lesson)

SmartPak’s Creative Director, Sara Florin, gets
a style lesson from style guru Hannah Hassler

Like most equestrians, I put my horse’s needs first. It’s only the best for my OTTB, Carpe Diem (Diem for short). He doesn’t go a day without supplements, he gets $18 shampoo just to keep his socks sparkling, and he gets new shoes every seven weeks! Meanwhile, I’m three months overdue for a hair cut, and I’m crossing my fingers that I can get another few hundred miles out of my running sneakers.

With all the training, hard work and elbow grease I put into making Diem look top-notch, it’s only fair that a bring my ‘A’ game, too. After all, we’re in this together! I thought I was doing okay in the fashion department – after all, my “breeches drawer” is so full it won’t shut unless a few pairs are in the wash. But a quick glance through that overstuffed drawer and my bursting coat bag revealed that I was much farther away from equestrian chic than I thought.

Whether it’s putting together a winning look for all three phases of an event, or just trying to dress sharp for a lesson, I knew I couldn’t do it alone. So, I sought out the advice of SmartPak’s fashion guru Hannah Hassler (the brains behind our fashion look books).
Help! I’m a wrinkled mess.


Sara Florin: My typical lesson outfits consist of breeches I’ve found in discount bins paired with polo shirts that have seen dozens (make that hundreds) of washings. It’s not technically wrong, it just always feels frumpy. How can I look and feel great for a lesson?

Hannah Hassler: First of all, there is nothing wrong with discount bins. I’ve found my most prized pairs of jeans in the hodge podge aisles of Savers – you just can’t beat a bargain, and a girl’s gotta eat and pay rent, right? My trick to always looking polished, even when you’re wearing a hand-me-down, is to make sure it fits. It’s a shopping rule to live by. If something is proportioned to your body and fits snugly (not tight!), it will never look frumpy.

Second, consider a tall boot designed for looks and comfort. The fashion-forward Ariat Volant Boot elevates the entire look without sacrificing the comfort and convenience of half chaps. The stretch panels offer a custom-like fit, and you’ll be the envy of the entire barn.
Third, spruce up your bargains with nice accessories. Throwing on a funky belt or your favorite bracelet, tucking in your faded polo shirt and making sure even well-worn breeches fit properly are three great steps to looking great, and in turn feeling great, in your lesson. Sometimes just adding a touch of flare to any old outfit can and will put a little more bounce in your step.

Schooling gets cooler

Smart Shopping Lesson

By saving some green on the perfectly priced Bradley Breech, I can splurge on the funky Tailored Sportsman belt.

Pulled-together schooling look:

Gersemi Tyra Polo Shirt, SunShield Shirt by SmartPak, Bradley Breech by SmartPak, Ariat Volant Boots, Tailored Sportsman Lounge Lizard Belt

Trivia night, here I come!

…and the inevitable post-lesson trivia night.

SF: When my trainer invites me out to eat after my evening lessons, all I can think about is my helmet hair, dirty breeches and slobber-stained shirt. I can’t go home in between. What can I do to transition to the “real world”?

HH: I personally can’t pass up a good trivia night (post workout or not), so my advice for going from “not” to “hot” in a flash is make sure you always have a fully stocked styling/grooming kit for yourself (your horse shouldn’t get to have all the fun!). Essentials like face wipes, deodorant, and a hairbrush make post-ride clean-up a lot easier.

A versatile, waterproof boot can pull double-duty in the barn and on the town. They’ll save your tall boots from getting ruined in the wash rack, they clean up quickly, and they’re cute enough to start a conversation in the bar. I love the countryside style of the Dubarry Galway Boot. If you’re not ready to make a big investment, the synthetic, fully waterproof Bogs McKenna Boot has a ton of personality and goes with just about anything.

Another must for your kit is a stylish belt, hat or scarf to bring your outfit back to life. Layering with the SunShield Long Sleeve Shirt offers you another quick fix – just remove the top layer, and voila! You’re clean and ready to hit the town.

Smart Shopping Lesson:

A pair of stylish, leather-look boots mean I can have a polished look without all the..well, polishing!

Transition to trivia night:

Swap your tall boots for the Bogs McKenna Boots and throw on the Kerrits Horsin Around Hat.

Help! I’m swimming in my coat.


SF: Eventers often get a bad rap for their turnout, and I’m out to help turn this around. I think my current look gets the job done nicely, but it’s time for me to commit to some true dressage duds, like white breeches and dress boots. I’ve also had my eye on a navy coat. Any suggestions to update my look?

HH: A special occasion is a perfect reason to add investment pieces to your wardrobe. They’re items you will have and love forever. If I were you, I would aim to add one really nice piece each season (depending on how much I had in my piggy bank!). It could be a pair of custom boots, a well-tailored show coat or a new helmet.
Many manufacturers are rethinking show coats, so now is a great time to try something new. Technical, breathable, stain-resistant fabrics are catching on quickly – and the best part is, they’re often machine washable, so you can skip a trip to the dry cleaners. Plus, you’ll stay confidently cool in fabrics that wick-moisture and move with you. The Ariat Triumph Show Coat will really shine in the dressage ring.
If you’re ready to commit to custom, the options are endless. Create a head-to-toe look that’s all your own with a Custom Samshield Helmet, Equiline Italia XCool Custom Competition and DeNiro Boots.
The white breeches are something you can always scrimp on. They get dirty so fast, and there’s truly no good way to get them white again – I would plan to buy a new pair each year or two, depending on how often you show. The Tailored Sportsman Trophy Hunter Full Seat Breech is perfectly priced and hold its shape to keep you looking great in and out of the saddle.
If you’re not ready to invest, a few fun accessories can help add the extra polish you’re looking for. A new stock tie paired with matching jeweled stock pin and spur straps add subtle sparkle in the ring.

Look out, judge!

Smart Shopping Lesson:

Soft shell show coats are the wave of the future – no more dry cleaning!

Horse Trial Style

Ariat Triumph Coat, Kentucky Iva Show Shirt with Ribbon Collar, Vintage Stock Tie, Handmade Jewel Stock Pin, Heritage Tackified Pro-Air Show Gloves, Tailored Sportsman Trophy Hunter Full Seat Breech, Ariat Classic Reversible Belt, Ariat Westchester Dress Boot, Handmade Jewel Spur Straps

…and hanging out at the end of the day!

SF: Show days can be long, longer…or never ending. I’m often too excited and exhausted at the end of the day to realize the entire front of my shirt is covered in dirt, horse hair and grass stains. But I’d love a way to end the day in style and comfort. How can I make what I’m wearing look as good as I feel about a successful show day?
HH: Just like going from the barn to trivia night, it’s always good to pack ahead for a show day. A vest is a versatile option – you’ll stay warm on a chilly morning course walk, and it keeps your overall look tidy and pulled together at the end of the day (plus it covers any slobber stains).
Always have a change of footwear for the drive home – your feet will thank you at the end of a long day! I love the look of high socks or loosely cuffed breeches with a deck shoe like the Dubarry Barbados Deck Shoe or the Dubarry Menorca Deck Shoe.
A cute hat is always great to cover up helmet head. The sporty new Kingsland Pimlico Hat is perfect for summer. For a pulled-together, preppy look, try the Kingsland Scarf. It’ll be a great conversation piece when you’re standing around waiting for scores to be posted.

Smart Shopping Lesson:

The Ariat Classic Reversible Belt goes from black (to match my tall boots) to brown (to complement my deck shoes). It’s two belts in one!

That Winning Feeling

The Kingsland Scarf and Dubarry Menorca Deck Shoe are a perfect way to end the show day on a high note.

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One comment on “Kick your equestrian style up a notch (or what not to wear for a lesson)
  1. Lucinda says:

    You look gorgeous Sara!

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