“Do people ever think you wear those ironically?” the chiropractor asked as I lay on her table.
I was rocking a pair of navy riding pants and a t-shirt. The ensemble was still clean, yet to be coated in their latest cycle of dirt, sweat, and horsehair. I didn’t need to be a biological terrorist in the dear doctor’s office; although she has put me back together after so many stupid horse injuries at this point, I don’t think she would bat an eyelash.
Despite the chiropractor’s assumption, the outfit choice was for practicality. Upon leaving her office, I went straight to the barn. After that, I changed into slacks and went to work. This costume change is my standard for most weekdays; get up, put on barn clothes, drive, ride, drive some more, change into business casual attire, work, and drive home.
However, the desire to change one less time a day is only part of why I muck about in my barn clothes. Riding clothes now are pretty cute.
Gone are the days when all breeches were that god-awful shade of beige, the fabric so thick and stiff it was no wonder Europe colonized half the world in search of more breathable material. Today we have choices: silicon seats, stain resistant fabric, four-way-stretch, compression, and in every hue of the rainbow.
One of my favorite pairs is bright fuchsia and has Lululemon-esque mesh vents on the calves. Move aside, athleisure wear at the grocery store. I buy my Greek yogurt in breeches.
Every week at least three pairs of my breeches go through the wash and then are hung up to dry like knee-patched flags proclaiming, “Here lives an equestrian! Hear her roar!” My downstairs neighbor even refers to the look as “Horsey Cosplay,” and he isn’t wrong.
As a plus-size person, my newer riding clothes have made me prouder to live in my own body. Riding attire brands were among the many clothing lines that sang in the chorus of shame for a long time. Options were limited. If I could find something, I was often the biggest size brands carried; anything larger simply didn’t exist or was so expensive that one pair cost the same as half a month of rent.
It felt as if the tags were screaming, “Don’t get any fatter, Gretchen. Otherwise, you don’t deserve to do the things you love.”
Today, brands like Sticky Seat, Sync Equestrian, Muirneen, Kerrits and more come in many sizes. With so many choices, it is now easier to live by the rule that if I am the biggest size a brand offers, they don’t need me as a customer. Some more inclusive brand can have my hard-earned cash instead.
“Those give you such a juicy booty,” a non-horsey friend told me when I took her to the barn recently. She reminded me that I, too, am allowed to feel desirable and have clothes that fit.
When I pull on a pair of riding pants, I am reminded of how lucky I am to have a hobby that I love and a body that allows me to do it. So, of course I should wear the brightest breeches I can find.