I’ve worn my riding clothes out in the “real world” before, sure.
I’ve sported manure-stained breeches and clunky muck boots at the grocery store on the way home after a lesson. Or sometimes for a quick stop at the pharmacy or Dollar Store when I’m in need of last-minute minor (horse) medical supplies. There may have been an occasion or two where I’d gone to a restaurant still adorning my Tailored Sportsmans breeches and show shirt after a long day at a horse show. I was either with my entire college riding team (there’s power in numbers) or I was just too tired to care.
But for the most part, I’ve been too embarrassed to go out in my riding gear get up.
I’ve never been the kind of equestrian to gawk at celebrities who dipped their toes in our apparel world, wearing jodhpur look-a-likes in public, or paddock boots or what have you. But I’ve never felt comfortable in my own skin, erm riding clothes, when I’m out and about and not with a flock of other riders. Riding pants, for a long time, felt like they stood out for all the wrong reasons. It’s cute for a little girl to get away with it a restaurant or at a family event, like how her sibling counterpart could get away with wearing his soccer jersey, shin guards and cleats. But when it came to me, a (somewhat) functioning adult, I could feel people’s eyes on me, the bewildered thoughts in their head searing into mine: what the hell is she wearing?
A lot has changed over the years, though. Now that I’m a bit older, I care less about what people think. At 30, I tend to lean more toward ‘IDGAF’ than what I described earlier. But also, fashion is changing. Riding pants look a lot more like general athletic wear these days. Some of my breeches could easily be mistaken for yoga pants.
On a recent Friday afternoon, I rode my horse per usual after work. Then I was invited to meet some friends for a beer at a local brewery, which happened to be nearer to the barn than it was my home. Since I already had my two dogs with me, I had no excuse to go all the way home just to change and drive all the way back. I agreed I’d go, adorned in my sweaty rider get up and all.
I splashed some water on my face and pulled my damp and frizzy helmet hair into my Kentucky Three-Day Event ball cap. There was nothing I could do to mask the smell of sweat from my ride, but I picked the hay and the dirt off my clothes the best that I could. Luckily I had a pair of Vans in the back of the truck, so I rocked those babies with a pair of tall boot socks. And off we went.
The brewery was packed as the sun was setting, edging out of happy hour and into normal nighttime watering hole hours. Luckily I had my two very cute (and not at all well-behaved) dogs as a buffer. Most of the bar patrons’ eyes fell on them first, anyway. I drained a beer, and felt a little less self-conscious.
My friends and I grabbed a table outside in the bier garden. They all complained about the heat and humidity (it’s Florida in August, they SHOULD know better) but I felt surprisingly cool and comfortable. My ventilated Equi In Style sun shirt definitely helped. Later on, I had to wait in line for the bathroom sans dogs. A girl standing behind me tapped me on the shoulder while we hovered awkwardly by the restroom door. I spun around, fearful to get too close to her in the noisy brewery because I smelled like manure, sweat and horse — not exactly “refreshing” to the muggles who aren’t familiar with the musk.
I laughed under my breath and told her I got them at TJ Maxx.