Tag Archive: equestrian style

  1. Rosie van Cutsem reveals how to look good in the saddle

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    “Check your ears for mud,” Rosie van Cutsem states firmly. “My mother told me that the first time I went hunting in Ireland, and she’s quite right. It’s extraordinary how mud gets everywhere, and if you’re going straight from the saddle to a dancefloor you don’t want to take half an Irish bog with you!”

    Founder of luxury clothing company TROY London and private members’ club Riding Club London (RCL), van Cutsem has long experience of looking good both in and out of the saddle.

    The lack of equestrian opportunities and horsey conversation for people living and working in the capital was the inspiration behind the RCL. Since it was founded in 2008 by van Cutsem and fellow rider Ashley Parasram, the club has outstripped expectations, offering everything from showjumping and polo lessons to hacks in Windsor Great Park and riding holidays in France and Ireland. Similarly TROY, which van Cutsem launched with her sister Lucia Ruck Keene in the autumn of 2014, fulfils the need for outdoor clothes that are both practical and elegant, using the finest materials to create pieces that can be worn in country and city alike.

    There are all kinds of high-tech riding gear on the market now, much of it excellent, but for long days out riding, van Cutsem prefers natural wool. “Vintage wool coats are naturally water-repellent,” she explains. “Old-fashioned wool jodhpurs are the same, and undoubtedly elegant. Don’t dry clean them, though, as that will destroy the waterproofing — just leave them to dry and then brush the mud off with wire wool.”

    She particularly likes TROY’s luxe jodhpurs, which look as good in London as on horseback: “They look elegant, with real-leather detailing, and the stretch Italian wool easily stands up to five hours in the saddle.”

    For a point-to-point or a blustery walk in Battersea Park, she loves the TROY parka, with its raccoon-fur-trimmed hood and quilted lining that will stand up against unseasonable snow, or the wax parka, made off 100% cotton milled in England and given a dry-wax finish to protect against showers.

    For the little touches, van Cutsem recommends scouring antique fairs for stock pins, whips, flasks and gloves. “I have a beautiful stock pin with a handbag on it that is great fun.” Fortunately, van Cutsem’s friend, Sarah Byrne has recently founded Open for Vintage, which stocks a delightful range of pre-loved jewellery and designer pieces — perfect for a day’s racing, too.

    Van Cutsem has recently started riding side-saddle, the most elegant — and increasingly popular — style for ladies to adopt. Indeed, as well as looking beautiful, many women say it feels more secure. But if you want to do it properly, there is a whole new wardrobe involved, such as traditional kidskin gloves, which can take some putting together.

    However, it’s what lies underneath the elegant, close-fitting jacket and sweeping skirt that often makes a side-saddle habit look and feel perfect. “Wear tights under your breeches to stop them rubbing on the leaping head,” advises van Cutsem. “A back brace will support your lower back and keep your back straight — just like a corset!”

    She has a thought for the gentlemen, too: “Don’t wear super-tight britches. A bit of wiggle room makes all the difference!”

    Above all, though, remember that, however exhausted or muddy you may be, you will still look terrific if you’re smiling. Van Cutsem even managed to look good on a soaking-wet day in Ireland, despite half a boot-sole hanging off after she tripped on a paving stone — which just shows that if you at least make sure you’re clean and neat when you step out of the door, whatever happens afterwards just adds character. Confidence, especially assisted by well-made clothes, is the most stylish thing of all.

    Top image: courtesy of Octavia Pollock and Rosie van Cutsem

  2. From catwalk to yard: a semi-serious take on London Fashion Week

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    London Fashion Week has drawn to a close, having brought a whiff of summer to this grey start of the autumn. So what’s in store for the fashion-conscious rider?

    Not much that’s wearable in the yard, to be absolutely honest. Country-inspired gilets, such as those seen at the House of Holland show, are perhaps the most useful pieces — you can accessorise them with a belt for extra pizzazz (although the glittery bugs sported by the models may be a little too much).

    “Ladies, riding-hat hair has just become fashionable!”

    Monograms, which Burberry plastered on its nylon rucksacks, are also ideal for the livery yard — beats naming your gear with a permanent marker anyway. And if you like your competition wear on the formal, military side, with plenty of piping and gold buttons, know that you’ll be bang on trend: Burberry’s latest collection is finished with gold trimmings by Hand & Lock, the embroiderers who supply goldwork to Prince William, the Royal Scots Dragoons Guard and the Queen’s bodyguard, among others.

    Beyond that, designers went big (and slightly crazy) on sleeves, which ranged from Roksanda Ilincic’s elegant bells to Erdem’s 18th-century-style’s tiered ruffles — fancy a leg o’mutton riding shirt, anyone?

    Following on from this autumn’s Neo-Victorian style, Victorian and Edwardian dresses, more than a little reminiscent of Downton Abbey, also made an appearance on the spring and summer catwalks — giving you the perfect opportunity to recycle that side-saddle habit you bought on a whim and never used.

    Colours were bold or black, prints dramatic and hairdos nothing short of crazy—not recommended if your horse spooks easily.

    However, another top hair trend — the tousled, ‘just-woken-up’ look complete with pillow kinks, as seen at the Holly Fulton’s catwalk show and on Paloma Faith’s head — is brilliant news. Ladies, hat hair has just become fashionable!

    Perhaps more interesting, though, was the footwear trend spotted both on the catwalks and among celebrity guests and fashion bloggers. Guess what? This is going to be a hot season for boots, particularly those of the humble paddock variety. Ankle boots were everywhere, which means that, once suitably de-mucked, your pair of Ariat, Toggi or Dubarry can strut their stuff with pride in the office or at a stylish party. MTV presenter Laura Whitmore even went one step further, turning up at the ‘Belstaff presents Outlaws’ after-party in what looked suspiciously like breeches and riding boots (but probably weren’t). Could be an idea next time you are short of an outfit!