Jeans Addiction

I currently have what I’m calling iPhone neck. I can barely move my head side to side as every neck muscle is constricted from endless hours of me looking at or working on my iPhone here at the show! I have also had my head bent over the plethora of fashion and gossip magazines I purchased.

I love thumbing through the model and actress clad pages to see how the lure and romance of the equestrian lifestyle still manages to infiltrate mainstream fashion.

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These days it seems the rustic country western girl in her worn-in tight jeans is quite popular.

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Models are dressed in head to toe denim and of course flaunting that pouty “don’t mess with a girl on a horse” kinda vibe.

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I am definitely a jeans girl myself, mostly Lucky Brand. I have so many kinds of them and know the line so well the Manager once asked me if I wanted a job when I was in there outfitting a friend! Every time I go in she says the offer still stands…despite the fact that I own a business and work almost everyday, that employee discount does get quite tempting! But I digress…

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Slap a pair of full length leather chaps on this model and this is what every rider wore at my barn in the 90’s. I envied the jumpers in their totally bitchin fringe chaps!

Today the full chaps over your Levi’s has been replaced with fitted half chaps or tall boots over the ever popular jean riding breech.

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Goode Rider hands down brought the jean breech to life with a softer stretchy denim, wide waist band, and designer pockets.

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And now almost every line has their own version of this timeless look…

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Animo’s fun and playful jean breech this spring had pretty lace on the front and back pockets.

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But jean breeches are not just for jumpers anymore! A lot of brands carry awesome full seat styles for us Dressage ladies!

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Kentucky, USG, and Pikeur are some of my personal favorites.

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And you don’t always need to go for the low rider jeans. Get more of a classic look and fit with the higher waisted Candella Jean breech…

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Whatever your preference or style choice when it comes to jean breeches, my recommendation is to pair them with a crisp button down shirt or flitted polo and chunky leather belt…and for goodness sake tuck that shirt in!!!

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Don’t Push My Buttons!

I almost made it through the entire opening ceremonies last night…I think I dosed off somewhere between Italy and Peru! But I managed to keep my eyes open to see the infamous USA Olympic outfits (will get to those in a minute) First I was thrilled to see two Equestrian flag bearers in the parade!

Rodrigo Pessoa representing Brazil.

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And Sweden’s Rolf-Goran Bengtsson.

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I also loved the vibrant colors both of these countries displayed in their Olympic attire. It was leaps and bounds better that the snoozefest the US Team had on…our colors are not red, white, and dark navy people! They are red, white, and BLUE!!! I didn’t realize Ralph Lauren was taking bribes from uptight Hunter trainers when he came up with this uninspired and bland ensemble…

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I mean let’s set aside any feelings about where they were made and talk about why they are so darn boring! For a country that prides itself on our individuality and freedom to express ourselves we should have been in beautiful bright reds and blues instead of all looking like the professor on Giligan’s Island.

Hats off to Germany who came out with a bang in their sporty and cheerful outfits! I love their tagline “Born to Walk Wild!”

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That should have been us…alas I cannot say I am surprised after I had yet another trainer forbid a young rider from wearing this simple navy Animo coat in the hunter arena…because of the buttons.

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I had a leisurely breakfast this morning at the lovely Sonoma Show Park, and watched a hunter equitation flat class. I was admiring the ladies positions, the horses frame, gait and general attitude, and it was me, so I was checking out the one pretty pink shirt, the girl with the subtle piping on her coat, and the helmets that looked a bit too big! But not once did I look at the riders buttons. I guess if they had been neon pink or flashing buttons then yes I could see how that would be distracting. But really this button from several feet away is what makes you say “no way that is unacceptable.”?????

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Really? I mean really!? I need to drown my sorrows in more wine tonight!

It’s not just about the socks…

A few years ago at the American Equestrian Trade Show I somehow managed to buy over $2000 in socks for LA Saddlery! Basically every vendor had socks to go with their collection of apparel, and they were all just so darn cute I couldn’t help myself. The girls at my store always laugh at me too because every few days I will pass our sock display and say “wow I need to order more again!” Particularly with the Sox Trot brand which we sell thousands of every year!!!

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I myself have three drawers full of socks that are dispersed around my house…my personal favorites are Dansko and Gersemi socks!

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But when it comes to socks I usually don’t discriminate…and the more fun colored and patterned ones the better!

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So where does this crazy obsession with socks come from exactly!? Well don’t ask this question to my mom or sister because they will simply roll their eyes and say in a dramatic exasperated tone “Oi vay! Renee and The socks!”

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Not to totally bore you with the details of my dysfunctional childhood…here’s the abbreviated version.

I have already mentioned I was a very shy girl growing up. I also went to a very small private school that had a strict uniform, in which the girls had to wear grey or light blue pleated skirts. Of course we all had the skirts hemmed or rolled up as short as we could get away with! Since our legs were the only thing we could show off, the socks had to be the perfect length and thickness to get just the right scrunch to make your legs look long and shapely. This is what teenage girls with insecurities think about on a daily basis!

Anyway…I had finally found the perfect white socks, and had just enough pairs for each school day. So when I would go to get dressed on Monday morning and open my coveted sock drawer to find it void of my perfect white scrunchie socks, I would literally have a full blown panic attack and cry bloody murder at the culprit…my older sister of course!

After many years of psycho therapy I finally discovered my early morning break downs had nothing to do with socks and everything to do with feeling like I had no control over my life. But even though I have made amends with that period in my life, to this day I have hoarded socks!

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And it’s not such a bad addiction! Especially since I am a barn girl to the core, it is still imperative that I have comfy socks for my boots that aren’t too thick, have padding on the ball and heel, and look cute if I am just in my breeches and clogs.

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Or if you prefer breeches with stiletto’s!

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Whatever your preference of footwear, I encourage you to have a little fun when you dress your feet! And please don’t tell me that any of these socks are not acceptable for the hunter arena!

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LA Saddlery in Sonoma

Northern California rocks! This is my first time up here at Sonoma Show Park which is a relative baby to the hunter jumper show circuit. But I have to say I am already impressed with the facilities and the friendly staff. Not to mention the awesome tacos and strawberry smoothies!

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But the best part is I see lots of colored coats and shirts and my very first customer was all about the bling! In fact most of my customers have been extremely open minded about the Animo selection I have on display and are thrilled to see more innovation and style available to riders. So yes No Cal girls rock!

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Everyone is also thrilled to see Samshield and Tucci with me…

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The Harley Boots are getting the most attention…most likely because they are simply fabulous. They are the only off the rack boots that fit my little stubby legs, and they feel like I am walking on plush Italian pillows!

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The other company I am showcasing to the very chic, modern and open minded Northern ladies is Cheval Polo which has been a favorite of LA Saddlery customers since we first started designing them a few years ago.

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This year we even designed our own logo for what we hope turns into a full line of equestrian apparel.

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Fabiano & Green will be an eclectic and fashion forward mix of classic German style and flashy Italian details.

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I will try and blog more about my time here in Sonoma…but I can’t make any promises about how coherent they will be as I am definitely indulging in all of the fabulous local wines!

The Tale of a T-Shirt

My husband thinks it’s hilarious that anytime someone rings our doorbell when I am home, I quickly duck, take cover, and hide! I usually then creep towards a window, navy seal style, and check to make sure it’s not a delivery or neighbor. There are two very good reasons I do this…first, I hate saying no to people who are trying to sell me something, whether it’s steaks, public policy, or religion. And second, I hate that they are putting me in a position in the comfort and safety of my home to have to say no! It’s the same reason I never answer my home phone when I don’t recognize the number. I really don’t need that “free” monthly credit report that is going to eventually cost me $11.99 a month for the rest of my life. So because I have a hard time saying no, or I can’t take the look or sound of disappointment when I do say no, I have learned it’s best to just avoid those situations!

Being a retail owner I am faced with the same dilemma. Luckily over the years I have developed better business skills to turn people down when I really don’t believe in a product, because in the end I have to take the product and try and sell it to other people. I honestly have a hard time selling something if I wouldn’t use it or wear it myself. Yes, we do carry items at LA Saddlery that I don’t personally like, but there are many people in the Equestrian world who do like them, and I have to honor their tastes and preferences. But I have been known to tell customers in my own store, “No, you don’t want that…try these instead!” For example I am a bit of full seat snob. Some of the inexpensive full seat breeches are made with the most hideous synthetic full seat fabric. It literally doesn’t allow you to move and it feels like you are riding on cardboard. My butt is just too sensitive for cheap breeches.

I am the exact same way with t-shirts. I hate a stiff over-sized t-shirt that basically makes you feel like you are wearing a burlap sack! I am also not a big fan of crewneck…I just feel like I am being unnecessarily suffocated. But t-shirts are definitely a staple for any eqgirl’s wardrobe, and I always encourage my customers to buy ones that are more form flattering so that you and your trainer can actually see your position when you ride. And I have mentioned before, a huge pet peeve of mind is ladies who come to ride in a gigantic ugly t-shirt, with the excuse that they don’t want to mess up their regular clothes. I will never understand this mentality because for me going to the barn has always been such a “regular’ and integral part of my life, and riding is one of the most aesthetically beautiful sports to participate in…not to mention the importance of being disciplined in your approach. And how you look when you come to ride is such a big part of that discipline. Ok..enough of the lecturing…back to my story…

Now we get lots of people “ringing our bell” at LA Saddlery, and sometimes my instinct to flee takes over. But like I have said before, I have to stay open-minded as a small business owner because you never know, the person at the door may just have the next big thing to hit the equestrian fashion market! I of course am also a huge supporter of other small businesses, especially those started by women.

So when Kate approached me at my mobile store in San Juan Capistrano I gave her my full attention as she presented me with her story and her darling little line of t-shirts.

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I loved that her approach to the Equestrian t-shirt market was simple, soft, and fitted to the body.

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I was thrilled that the shirts were printed here in Southern California, and happily surprised that $1 for every t-shirt sale goes to the non-profit children’s organization, Compton Jr. Posse, which provides inner-city kids the opportunity to get involved with horses.

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Now sometimes you really like a product, but the person who is behind the product is what ends up making the sale. This was true for Kate. She was just as sweet and lovely as her shirts, and it was my pleasure to ask her if we could have some of her shirts to sell on our website. So for a limited time www.lasaddery.com will have her line of t-shirts available for our wonderfully fashionable customers!

The Ultimate Barn Coat

Every time we get a seasonal shipment of apparel in from one of our vendors we immediately ransack the boxes like 4 year olds hopped up on candy canes on Christmas morning. The running joke at LA Saddlery is inevitably we get to a piece of clothing, or sometimes several pieces, where I or my business and buying partner, look rather perplexed and shout “we didn’t buy this!” This burst of denial is usually followed by a confused contemplative silence and then a baffled…”did we?”

The girls always have a good laugh at us, especially when they witness the same reaction from both of us on totally different days! And the reason for these humorous senior moments is that we have to order the collections at least 8 months in advance. When you couple that with the fact that we have dozens of vendors, are hounded daily by new ones, and are still doing our regular weekly fill in orders, it is no wonder we can’t remember the long black fabulous winter trench coat and belt that appears at the end of August and it’s 110 degrees outside!

Every time we go into a new season of buying we come up with all kinds of new fangled ways to permanently imprint into our memory the images of clothing that we select…but once the racks of clothes are in front of us all that planning goes out the window because our obsession and love for jackets, sweater, scarves and handbags completely take over the rational budgeting center of our brains.

So yesterday we did our order for Barbour Spring 2013

…yes that’s right…the wonderful pieces we picked out won’t be here until February of next year! Luckily everything from Barbour is spectacular so we usually don’t have a “did we buy this?” moment. Instead, when opening the boxes from Barbour we usually say “why didn’t we buy this for ourselves!”

I have personally bought several pieces from Barbour, and have loved and worn them all!

I bought this Military Cardigan from them last fall, and it kept me from freezing my butt off during the first two weeks of my San Juan Capistrano trip!

But while Barbour makes fantastic knitwear and shirts…

…they are especially known for their fantastic jackets. In fact every real horsewoman should own a Barbour waxed or quilted barn coat!

I know I know they can be on the expensive side. But honestly they are worth it! Not only are they durable for all of the shenanigans at the barn, most of them are wind and or water proof, have plenty of utilitarian pockets to store all of your barn necessities, they literally last forever, and of course they are totally chic and cool.

They also make fabulous bags…I of course have one of those too!

These two items from this past season are now up on www.lasaddlery.com! Check them out and other great items featured from my blog!

Best Day Ever at LA Saddlery!

Ok I am soooo excited right now! And it’s not just because I got to counsel my favorite customer’s son today on college admissions and essays, which was ridiculously fun, and made me miss my old life a bit. Oh and I had a much needed massage today too, also extremely enjoyable but still not why I am still grinning with glee!

In fact there were three very exciting things that have happened at LA Saddlery in the last two days leading up to this current state of elation…

First, one of our very fabulous customers, the Queen of glam and vintage fashion, Dita Von Teese came in to pick up her two pairs of beautiful custom Tucci boots, and she gave me permission to write about her in an upcoming eqgirl blog!

Incidently this picture was taken outside of our store awhile back by Paparazzi that must have been following her. Gotta love that blue dress! For now, I am just waiting for her to send me some pictures with her in the new boots, so stay tuned as that blog will be coming shortly!

Second, we had a lovely customer from the Bay area come in with her daughters to buy some essentials and a few goodies as well. I was busying myself at the counter while one of my extremely competent and attentive sales girls was assisting them (I am very proud of my LA Saddlery girls…mostly because they put up with me and my anal retentive tendencies!) Anyway, I couldn’t help overhearing the customer say she worked or had worked for Dover Saddlery, and that it is so refreshing to shop at a store with knowledgeable staff! My response was “AMEN to that!!!” She went on to explain that she ends up returning almost 90% of what she buys online. Which confirms what I have been saying all along, there is just no substitution for shopping local! Especially when you are buying specialty items such as tall boots or helmets. I feel bad for customers who don’t have a local tack shop to go to, or their tack shop is too conservative in their buying and doesn’t offer a wider variety of apparel options…which brings up my final and most exciting thing that happened today…

Miss Candace Bushnell came back to shop at LA Saddlery! And luckily, thanks again to one of my loyal and wonderful sales girls who quickly came into my office to tell me the good news, I was there to meet her this time! Mental note to self “praise LA Saddlery girls more often…”

Miss Bushnell was extremely gracious enough to let me take this picture with her…I was very close to asking permission to style her up and do a full fledge photo shoot, but I didn’t want to scare her off! Plus she has exceptional taste, and really doesn’t need any fashion advice from me.

If you are a woman, and do not know who Candace Bushnell is…then shame on you! Here is a little clue…

My entire twenties revolved around “Sex and the City.” I even had three girlfriends who totally fit the bill for Carrie, Samantha, and Miranda. I of course was Charlotte, always the romantic idealist, a little more conservative on the outside but secrelty wild at heart. As I got older I became more like Carrie…meaning, and excuse my French, I got more and more fucked up! One of my favorite episodes is “Ex and the City” where Carrie explains her theory about curly haired girls vs. straight haired girls. I have naturally crazy wavy hair, so I totally get this!

In this one scene Carrie is referring to the movie “The Way We Were…”

Robert Redford is madly in love with Barbara Streisand.

-Katie. -K-k-k-katie.

K-k-k-katie, right!

But he can’t be with her because she’s too complicated…and she has wild, curly hair.

Hello? C-c-c-curly.

He leaves her and marries this…simple girl with straight hair.

Ladies, I am having an epiphany.

The world is made of two types of women:

The ”simple” girls and the ”Katie” girls.

I’m a ”Katie” girl and where are our drinks?

At the end of the episode she says…

“Maybe some women aren’t meant to be tamed. Maybe they just need to run free ‘til they find someone just as wild to run with them.”

And it’s this idea, this feeling that I wish more of my customers would embrace! Let their curly-girl selves out a bit more often and wear something at the barn that shakes things up a bit, makes a statement!

That’s why I love that Candace Bushnell bought that beautiful vibrant blue coat I mentioned in a previous blog. And she’s a dressage rider! We were just so meant to be best friends…

But the best part of the whole experience was that she told me LA Saddlery was her number one tack shop destination because unlike the majority of tack shops she has frequented, we have the best selection of quality riding apparel and of course all of the fun options as well! She’s from the East Coast, where there are a plethora of tack shops to choose from so it is even more complimentary to LA Saddlery and our out-of-the-box style buying, that the woman who is responsible for creating the most fashionable TV series ever, loves our store the best! Haha, eat that Dover Saddlery!

I know I sound like a giddy teenager…and that’s because I am!

So the big question is what did she buy this time? Well my favorite purchase she made was a black Animo Lou coat…or as it has been dubbed by my Assistant Manager “the Vegas coat.” I think it’s another bold statement for the Dressage arena without being too over the top. And she will style it with a classy show shirt and sleek breeches, so I have no doubt she will be the envy of all the Dressage Divas at her next show.

The coat also looks fantastic in this color as well!

She also loves Goode Rider breeches, and who can blame her, those ladies know fashion and how to put together a perfectly styled collection of quality riding apparel.


She opted for the full seat Pro Riders in navy, as well as the white ones, which she plans to use for schooling breeches. Did I mention I love her! White breeches at the barn for everyday riding…yes we were definitely destined to be great friends!

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