Can you spot the green coat?

Ok…so I took this little video of one of the hunter equitation classes. And to be perfectly honest I was a little depressed by the parade of bland, boring, totally indistinguishable white shirt and navy coat uniform. I was about to give up hope on breathing life back into this sport with a little style and color, when this radiant green coat flashed by! My iPhone video does not do the color justice, but it looked stunning on the lovely chestnut horse. If you watch closely you can see me stay on the rider for a longer shot. And it proves that it only takes one independent spirit to incite change. I say bravo to this young woman for showing some individuality! And my quest will continue to eliminate the word “can’t” from the hunters vocabulary when they are looking at anything that isn’t navy or white!

Blast from the Past!

These past few days have, by far, been my best week spent in Laguna Beach since I arrived more than three weeks ago! The difference…my very best friend coming to stay with me for a few days, to soak up some sun, relax with a little wine, and of course shop, shop, and then shop a little more. My big purchase this week was a gorgeous orange bikini (I was in desperate need of a bathing suit that was more age appropriate… basically one that didn’t have strawberries or pok- a-dots on it!)

I also broke down and bought a pair of those feather earrings I have been thinking about since my blog on Green Cube! My girlfriend of course bought some too. I can always count on her to support my “gotta have that just because I want it” shopping addiction!

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But the best part of our time together was simply catching up, reminiscing about our crazy twenties, ex-boyfriends, and how we can move forward and learn from our mistakes.

And there is no better place to do that then Crystal Cove Beach, my favorite destination spot in Orange County. The beach itself has a rich history of its own and has been a popular vacation place for friends and family since the 1920’s.

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I especially love the quaint cottages that are nestled in all along the Pacific coastline.

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Some of them have been restored and can be enjoyed by families throughout the year, while others are patiently waiting, hanging onto their hinges for dear life. But I love those dilapidated ones because they are evidence of the past fun that was had here, and they are the promise of what fun will be had for future generations to come!

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Which of course got me to thinking about how far the Equestrian sport has come, particularly in regards to advances in riding apparel. But looking back on images from ladies riding long before techie show jackets and butt hugging breeches, I’m struck by the beauty and glamour that we associate with horses.

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For me this picture of Jackie O’ speaks volumes of the class and style we should strive to emulate when we get dressed for a competition.

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I adore her tailored tweed coat and as the hunter rule book still stands that tweed is one of the acceptable styles to wear in the show arena, I’m going to be a full fledged tweed backer from now on!

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And to me all the beautiful color variations of tweed just make more sense then a stark solid navy coat. When my friend asked me how you can tell the difference between a jumper and a hunter class, I told her to look at the aesthetics of the jumps. While the jumper courses are bright, flashy, borderline distracting, the hunter fences are meant to be more rustic, as if naturally blending into a rolling countryside. And to me that is why tweed is such a better fit as its colors are a complimentary blend of natural shades of brown, gray, and green.

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These coats are from an English line of custom jackets which LA Saddlery has been researching to possibly purchase for the store.

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But most companies such as Grand Prix and Marigold have access to tweed fabrics and all it takes is for you to step outside of your navy box and into a world full of color, texture, and good old fashion style!

Cut From the Same Cloth

It’s been almost a week since my last blog…and I can honestly say the loneliness of being on my own has gotten the best of me and drained a lot of my creative spirit! Having been an emotionally neglected child still has its residual effects on me, especially when I am on my own for an extended period of time. The unlovable feeling kicks in like clockwork, and then the inevitable anxiety finds me, and I am almost paralyzed with worry and a sense of abandonment…( I know a bit heavy for an equestrian fashion blog, but bare with me, it will get better!)

When I was a little girl, I was morbidly shy and awkward, always clinging to whatever body part of my mother’s was available, burying myself in books, and living out most of my life inside of my imagination. Luckily I was fortunate enough to have discovered horses, and it was at the barn that I finally found some peace from my nervous and insecure world, and riding became my religion. The ponies were my best friends and most trusted confidantes and over the next 15 years that I rode and competed, I became more and more confident and comfortable in my own skin, slowly prying me from my closed off shell.

Even though I became a competent and functioning adolescent and young adult, I still always felt a bit out-of-place or misunderstood outside of the Dressage arena. However, in my early twenties, I took my first trip to Italy, and I can honestly say I immediately felt at home, as if the very fabric of my genetic code was realized, and I truly saw myself for the first time. My great grandparents on both sides came over from Southern Italy and Sicily and set up shop in New York. So my love for Italy, its vibrant history, colorful people, and breath-taking landscapes are literally part of who I am and who I want to become.

The Italians are quite a fun bunch. Very unapologetic for who they are and how they live their lives, which is full of passion, joy, drama, art, and of course food! They embrace beauty with a vengeance, challenge the conventional, and are casually chic and effortlessly sexy. And boy can they make clothes!!! Which is why I am always so excited when I find a new Italian Equestrian Clothing line.

Last year at the trade show, we just happened to walk into a far back corner of the convention center. Tucked away like an undiscovered secret, sat two of the most beautiful men sitting behind racks of the most stunning riding apparel I have ever seen.

One of the fine-looking gentleman could have been a dead ringer for an Italian Hugh Jackman, and I would have happily bought rocks from him if that’s all he was selling! But fortunately what he had to offer was an exquisite line of Italian riding apparel.

Every piece had sleek clean lines, fabulous details, amazing fabrics, and emanated a worldly elegance.

I would have packed my suitcase full of breeches, coats, and shirts if they let me!

Luckily LA Saddlery customers won’t have to wait much longer, as we have some of the line coming this summer and fall!

The clothing honestly speaks for itself….you can see from the Cavalleria Toscana collection how high the bar should be set for the best in Equestrian Fashion….

Picture Perfect

Week two in Laguna Beach and I have been feeling a bit lonely, aimlessly walking around and indulging in excessive amounts of retail therapy!

I finally decided to walk into this store I had been passing by for some time…mainly because I couldn’t help looking at this dress, knowing if I got a closer look I would be compelled to try it on!

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But something other than this exquisite dress was luring me in…and as soon as I walked into Green Cube I knew what had been calling out to my subconscious.

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Finally some art I can get on board with! Don’t get me wrong, I love going to museums and galleries, but I have no clue about art. I usually find a piece that draws me in, that makes me feel happy on a deeper level, and then I just stare at it for awhile. Trying to absorb its meaning, and why it affects me so much.

For obvious and maybe some not so obvious reasons these pieces overwhelmed me.

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Something about them was very familiar to me. Almost as if I knew the artist personally. I wasn’t sure if they were paintings or photographs. Either way they captivated my heart and I felt that familiar ache and longing to buy another horse!

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This one officially stole my heart…

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I struck up a friendly conversation with the lovely sales woman, and told her about my blog and asked permission to take these photos. She happily let me shoot away and directed me to a trunk full of horse t-shirts by the same artist whom she called Kim.

“You mean Kimerlee Curl!?” I asked even though I knew I was correct. Realizing I do actually know the artist personally!

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The trunk was of course filled with the special Horseworship shirts that Kimerlee had introduced to LA Saddlery!

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They truly are wearable art! And I am so happy to help promote her cause Return To Freedom!

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I was elated at my discovery of this little shop with reminders of home to distract me from my loneliness. I also found some fantastic equestrian inspired jewelry!

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The feathers earrings were so fantastic!

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Each set unique and stunning..

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But the best find of the day were these awesome horse rings!

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Don’t worry I got the designers name so we may have them at LA Saddlery very soon!!!

And I of course had to buy a little something for myself! I was intrigued by these wrap bracelets that looked like very cool abstract versions of Shrinky Dinks!

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I did not however try that amazing dress on…but I did get a look at it from behind on my way out….WOW!!!

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What’s Hot at the Oaks

The one thing that isn’t hot is me! I’m freezing my little tail off out here! I thought, great a month at the beach, and happily packed my flirty sundresses and flip flips. Yeah, I’m wearing a full length alpaca coat!!!

So while I shiver under my little tent I have been studiously taking notes on what riders are wearing to the show.

The great news is I am seeing a lot of fun color collars and piping details on coats. And lots of four button coats too! Unfortunately most of them are still navy and black, but I have spotted a few brown plaids and one pretty green coat.

The breeches I am seeing most are Tailored Sportsman Trophy Hunter and Equine Couture. And sadly the dirty saggy bottom breeches are still in abundance!

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As for helmets, I see a ton of GPA Speed Airs! So apparently people are much less worried about their helmets looking more modern!

I am also excited to see a good amount of the very cool and techie Guarnieri boots, the fun and sporty red Ariat Volant boots, and a ton of custom boots with flashy patent, crystal, and exotic skin details. So footwear seems to be a safe place to go all out too!

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Of course there are lots and lots of white show shirts. But I have seen a good amount of FITS shirts, which is a nice change. The Equi in Style shirts are also a big hit. And as soon as I put out my beautiful Cheval Fashions shirt, I was undressing mannequins!

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Of course all of my Animo pieces are getting lots of attention…and I may sell out of the breeches before I leave. Even this outrageous pair is getting touched and swooned over! Frankly it’s making the plain tan ones a bit jealous.

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A Little Bit of aMUSEment

TGIT! Thank goodness it’s Tuesday! I love Tuesdays, as they are the one day I’m not bookkeeping or working our mobile unit down here at the Oaks in beautiful San Juan Capistrano! Though I did take a few minutes to drop off all of the new goodies I brought back down with me from LA Saddlery. I was surprised to see most of the vendors open…until I remembered they are a little bit on the crazy side! Plus if I didn’t take Tuesdays off to explore Laguna Beach, how would I find all of these amazing shops to write about!

So after a leisurely lunch at one of my new favorite spots, The Lumber Yard, I hit the streets in hopes of finding some stand out equestrian inspired apparel to share with you all!

After a few blocks of bikini and surf shops, I began to worry that I may have exhausted the possibilities down here. Fortunately I spied a little dress shop just in time to pull me out of my gloom and doom reverie. The store was aptly named Muse, and so I popped in with hopes of finding some inspirational pieces that might give birth to a fresh idea in my OCD head!

I was immediately drawn to this darling little cowgirl hat with its soft vintagesque embroidered leather band.

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It spurred me into musing, that so far I have focused mainly on English Riding Apparel, while the Western fashion market is quite prolific. Even my blog picture has a hint of an urban cowgirl feel to it.

After admiring the hats, I moved on to admire the lovely leather and canvas handbags.

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They were an eclectic mix of Texan and Santa Fe Style. I particularly liked this little colorful satchel…

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Feather jewelry was also in abundance at Muse…and it took every inch of my will power not to by these awesome earrings! What can I say, they tapped into early childhood longings of being Pocahontas, galloping bareback across the west!

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On a similar note, I instantly fell in love with this bright orange hand embroidered skirt which would look equally great with flip flops or sassy cowboy boots! Incidentally I have both!

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Finally the dresses…the reason I was inspired to drop into this pretty boutique. I’m not going to lie…I did try some on…this one in particular caught my eye.

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It was very alluring in a demure sexy saloon girl kind of way…a prairie princess if you will!

But my absolute favorite Western inspired piece, was this stunning Sex and the City meets Dances with Wolves print dress. I really love the soft knitted detail on the bodice of this one of a kind casually chic beach dress…

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Luckily for my wallet the only thing I left Muse with was a bag full of fresh ideas! But who knows…if the show goes well down here I may be back for one of those dresses! Stay tuned!

Hats on!

When I was a little girl, after having just been bitten by the horse bug, my family took a day trip to Santa Anita to watch the races.  I was so excited to see the famed thoroughbreds racing to the finish line! However it didn’t take long before I had to hold back the large lump in my throat from exploding into full blown tears as I watched the jockeys vehemently whip and whip and whip the horses around the track. I was absolutely mortified and to this day have not visited a race track.  I still am squeamish about using a crop on a horse…although now having read “Fifty Shades of Grey” I have a whole new respect for them!

Luckily after I grew up, learned the ways of the horse world, and of course watched Seabisquit my loathing of horse racing dwindled. Don’t get me wrong, I still get riled up when I hear stories of horses being raced too young and too hard, and the inherent abuse that comes with a competitive money driven sport.  But now I can embrace the tradition of a day at the races, the thrilling speed and beauty of the horses, and particularly the elegant ladies and their fabulous hats!

 

I happened to pass a little boutique, Duet, on one of my many shopping walks around Laguna Beach, and saw these awesome hats in the window.

 

I of course had to go in and peruse this quaint gem of a shop, and was pleasantly surprised by the all of the wearable art!

I learned from the owner, that most of the items were crafted by him and his wife, local artisans, and many of the items, like this lovely sweater I purchased, came from small boutique lines in France. 

 

The store had a very Parisian bohemian feel to it, with some Santa Fe Saloon girl mixed in. 

The leather jackets were sumptuous and fit perfectly to my shape.  And the dresses were fun and flirty with a bit of a Moulin Rouge flare to them.

 

I particularly fell in love with the hand crafted chairs, upholstered with what I believe is vintage fabrics from abroad.

 

And the scarves….oh, my! Haha! That silly book has gotten under my skin!  It’s probably time I confessed that I have an extremely unhealthy addiction to scarves. These particular ones were exquisite and tapped into the heart of my obsession. The owner dies all of the fabrics himself, each scarf a completely one-of-a-kind piece.  I of course bought one…

 

And the hats…I wanted to buy every one of those too!

Perfect for tomorrow’s Belmont Stakes!

 I am not really a normal hat kinda girl, but for whatever reason, the over the top ones suit me…

 

Well I hope that everyone enjoys watching the big race! Oh and one more thing…here is a picture of a very lovely HUNTER rider, wearing a very lovely PLAID Le Fash shirt she purchased from me yesterday, that she wore in the HUNTER arena…

Yeah! I finally feel like I have some closure…phew!

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