Holiday Wish List Part 1: Clothes…

So it’s that time of year when we have very sweet well-intentioned boyfriends, husbands, dads, and granddads aimlessly wandering through our store looking for the perfect holiday gift for that special eqgirl in their lives. That’s you! And if you are like me then you will probably want new clothes!

There is nothing wrong with giving the man or woman in your life some tips about all the things that caught your fancy this year but couldn’t justify spending on yourself. And this time he is doing the buying and there will be no need for you to hide that new pair of boots in the trunk of your car, or swear to him that the stunning barn jacket you have on is from like years ago and you just found it when you cleaned out the closet!

If you can’t remember all the fabulous equestrian fashion that you saw this year, don’t worry I am here to help you. So today I have chosen my top 5 pics of some of the best pieces in Equestrian Fashion this season. And don’t forget to tell Santa what size you are!!

Pic #5 Best Sweater Vest: Pikeur. This one had me at the fur collar. It kind of has an old man chic quality about it and I love it!

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Pic #4: Best Warm and Cozy Jacket: PK Sportswear. Makes me want to plan a trip to Aspen and sit all day by the fire with a big fat cup of hot chocolate!

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Pic #3: Best Horsey Shirt: Joules. Normally I hate these kind of campy prints, but Joules really hit the mark on this one. It’s cut well and can be styled up with a cute scarf, leather belt and your favorite jeans.

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Pic #2: Best Barn Sweatshirt: Gersemi. I buy a Gersemi zip up every year because they truly are the most comfortable and fashionable sweatshirts to wear to the barn or just out and about.

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Pic #1: Best Sweater: Asmar Equestrian. If you haven’t been paying attention, cute fitted v-neck sweaters over polo’s and show shirts are definitely the in fashion trend at the barn, and lots of jumpers are wearing this look in the show arena too! This is by far my favorite look that has caught on among riders of all ages. And the Asmar sweater has been our biggest seller all year, and it’s really a no brainer as to why!

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Remember all of our sportswear at LA Saddlery is 25% off so send Santa’s little helpers in to buy you some new digs! And make sure to keep checking eqgirl for more great holiday gift ideas!

Riding in the Rain

Ok I have been über busy these past few weeks.  Not only did I have an unhealthy obsession with the election, I also have been moonlighting as a college counselor, working on putting in a new computer system at work and designing our new mobile unit!  Which I have to say I am very excited about since  LA Saddlery will be going to HITS for the first time next year, as well as returning to the Oaks, Sonoma, and Sacramento to name a few.  As much as I was ambivalent about being on the road, and suffered bouts of loneliness, I also met some great people, and really made a niche for myself on the show circuit.  Next year we will be traveling with Animo, Tucci, PK Sportswear, and our new line Winston Equestrian.  Basically we are going to be fabulous fashion on wheels!  And I will have air-conditioning and a couch!!! Needless to say I will be thoroughly spoiled in 2013.

And instead of downsizing, laying off employees, and whining about health care, LA Saddlery (who has provided our employees with full heath care benefits for years) will be moving forward, redoing our website, and broadening our customer base with the hopes of bringing new life to small business as well as becoming a job creator!   Oh yes and making everyone look fabulous in the process.

But what’s even more important right now is it’s finally  cold and wet in Southern California! However when it comes to being at the barn, or god forbid riding when it’s raining, we are all a bunch of babies.  I like to think it’s because we haven’t found the perfect rainy day outfit for the barn…until now of course!

Asmar Equestrian is relativity new to the Equestrian market, however it has already become a favorite boutique line among riders for both its technological advanced fabrics and chic design details. 

Their award-winning All Weather Riding Jacket is truly a must have for your fall wardrobe!  I am so in love with this coat, not only because it looks so damn good  on everyone, but because  it looks so damn cool when you are in the saddle! 

It has a sort of royal feel to it.  And who doesn’t want to look like a princess!

If you want something a bit more sporty, then check out their hunter jacket.

It’s made with the same fabric and like the longer All Weather Jacket, comes in a variety of fun colors and prints.

So if you wake up tomorrow and the raindrops are falling, don’t fret…just use it as an excuse to buy yourself a stylin new raincoat!

I’m Back!

Did you miss me?! I know it’s a been awhile….and I would like to say it’s because I have traveling the world, meeting fabulous people, and buying even more fabulous clothes..but alas that is not the reason. Although I did get away for three to days to go to Vegas! And I did buy 2 pairs of fantastic jeans…but other than that I have just been working. Working. And working some more. 

Quick update on my week at the Sacramento International Jumping Show. The participants were all jumpers. No hunters. Needless to say I had a fabulous time! Haha! Just kidding…I do have a special place in my heart for all the die hard hunters out there…it’s just somewhere deep down and I have a hard time accessing it when all I hear is complaints about stitching, and buttons, and navy coats, you know not being “navy enough.”  No really, I admire that you stick to your principles and have a clear idea of how you want to present yourself.  I just like to shake things up now and then. I am all about expressing and not repressing, and I don’t something about the conservativeness of the hunter community that screams repression to me.  I feel like it’s my mission in life to free you all from your navy constraints! But that doesn’t mean I don’t love you, I just don’t understand you!

But I am finally back just in time to tell you about a new line that we are SUPER excited about here at LA Saddlery.  And it’s actually really hunter friendly!  I promise it can be worn in the hunter arena. Cross my heart. Sincerely. It’s a beautiful line for both the hunter and jumper arena. There aren’t any crystally designs on the butts or anything!

Winston Equestrian is a boutique line of fine equestrian apparel that has clean classic lines and design details made with modern luxurious stretch fabrics from France and Italy.

Next year we will have an exclusive selection of their gorgeous show coats. And right now we are the first store to have, what I am calling “THE new white show shirt.”

That’s right hunter ladies, they are simple elegant WHITE show shirts! 

The only embellishment is the one crystal or pearl snap button on the collar.  It’s not over the top, it’s very pretty and neat.  It’s perfectly acceptable.   

The shirts are cut to beautifully contour your shape, need very little pressing, and also come in tall length for all you ladies with monkey arms!

Come by LA Saddlery during the Preview this weekend or next week during the International to check these out! Also all of the beautiful sportswear I have been bragging about for so long, will be 20% off the entire month of November. So come and treat yourself to an early holiday present!

Top o’ the mornin’ to ya!

This morning we are packing up the trailer and going to the Sacramento International Jumper show at the Murieta Equestrian Center. This will be my first time at this show and I am anxious to see what we have in store for us! That’s right I said we…this time I will be dragging my husband along, because really what else does he have to do then to let me boss him around for 8 days straight! I told him he needs to strictly talk with his perfected Irish accent because ladies seem to buy more from men with European accents. I mean how else do you explain the boom in French saddles sales that are not actually made in France!

Ok I digress. Saddles are a sore subject for me, as we are still in fact a saddlery and happen to carry the top selling saddles in the world, but at this point specialize in riding apparel over anything else. But let’s face it, that’s where all the fun is anyway! And fall is the most fun time of year for Equestrian Fashion, even though the 100 degree weather here in LA is sucking most of the fun right out of me, I am still hopeful that an autumn breeze is just around the corner.

Even though I am taking all of the fabulous Fall Animo, a lot of the PK Sportswear, and the custom Tucci boots with me to Sacramento, I am leaving behind a plethora of fall clothing and some awesome new coats at LA Saddlery. You will definitely be hearing from me while I am at the show…and I am hoping to have some fun anecdotes since I will be with Mike and working with your spouse is always bound to cause some drama!

But I wanted to share with you some of my favorite fall picks that I am sadly leaving behind in Burbank…actually two of the items will be coming with me because as you know I can’ t help but shop in my own store!

Awesome new coats from Iris Bayer, who Vogue named one the best German designers of Equestrian apparel…and that’s pretty huge!

This one is a great cross over show jacket…meaning you CAN wear it in hunters, jumpers or dressage.. YES YOU CAN! Just imagine me saying it with a thick French accent and it will sound more believable to you!

This one is a short little number that is probably best for the jumper arena…though I would wear it anywhere, anytime, any place.

Ok now the really important stuff…SWEATERS! One cannot have too many sweaters. Seriously you can’t. Sweaters are the benchmark of any good fall wardrobe and these are the two that I have purchased from LA Saddlery and I will be packing tonight with the hopes that the temperature will drop to the 60’s!!

Goode Rider really does make the best knitwear. This one is not too hot for So Cal winters, its soft and hugging to your body, and looks fantastic with jeans or riding breeches. I would have bought one in every color…but I showed some restraint. I know hard to believe, but I had to make room in my closet for my new gorgeous camel colored sweater from my 2nd favorite brand, Barbour.

Barbour didn’t really have any great fashion shots of this one, but let me tell you it is stunning on. I will make Mike take some pictures of me in it. That’s right I said make…it’s ok don’t feel bad for him, my ass still looks as good as the day we met…luckily for my sake he’s easy to please!

If you are more of a jacket or coat person, Goode Rider and Barbour also coincidently have my two favorite styles that just happen to be extremely hot in runway fashion this year as well. The pea coat and the trench coat. Again two staple items to a well-rounded fall wardrobe. It’s true I read it in Marie Clare…there were pictures and everything I swear!

This coat is adorable, ridiculously soft, like you want to wrap it around you and curl-up-to-the-fire soft, and it’s pretty darn sexy. Mad Men sexy but without the oppression and total objectification of women.

This one from Barbour is a show stopper. Corinne has it perfectly styled in our store with a brown plaid Le Fash shirt and jean breeches, but honestly this coat would look good over anything!

Finally something that we believe we ordered by accident. This blog alone is a testament to my craziness, so it should be no surprise that I would mistakenly order corduroy breeches for LA! Despite their unfortunate name Horze makes really fantastic breeches at great price points.

These brown corduroy ones are actually not as hot as you would think…and they literally feel like butter on your skin. But the reason I love them so much is they are a great fashion piece for your everyday wardrobe. I recently tried on some skinny corduroy pants at the mall and not only were they hideous on me, but they were pretty damn expensive. The Horze ones fit me perfectly and looked great with my Dankso boots (see blog “my little muses” in which I have Corinne styled in them).

Ok..I am exhausted and must pack a ridiculous amount of clothes for my trip…talk to y’all soon!

It’s personal to me…

I recently watched You’ve Got Mail…and while I wasn’t in love with the movie when it first came out, I really enjoyed it this time around, mostly because I now totally get Meg Ryan’s character.  Not only is she a die-hard Pride & Prejudice fan (I myself have read it about 5 times!) but she’s a small business owner trying to fight her odds against the big conglomerate super stores.  My favorite moment is when she’s talking about how everyone says “it’s not personal. It’s business.” And her reply is “well it was personal to me.” And of course it is! I feel the exact same way about our little business, because it’s the personal relationships you develop that make it worth getting up every day to do it all over again.  Well that and the shopping!

Despite my need to throw stuff away in my house because I can’t stand piles of junk lying around with the sole purpose of collecting dust, I am actually quite a sentimental person.  I have a very hard time letting go of things, particularly memories both good and bad, and also people, again both good and bad!  Last Saturday I had an urge to visit my childhood home in Lake Encino…yes I am a bona fide valley girl to the core!  As I was driving up the hill to my old neighborhood the lump in my throat was threatening to explode, and as I passed my best friends house, just a block away from mine, there was no holding back the waterfall of memories, feelings, and heartaches that I continue to relive and even reenact in my current relationships.

I sat in front of my old house for about twenty minutes, remembering the explosive family fights, the teenage angst and worse the lonely silences, but even more importantly I thought of my best girlfriends, late night giggling, Christmas mornings with presents overflowing into the next room, first kisses, and of course first loves.  All of the personal moments, personal relationships, personal hardships, that shaped the person I am today.  The sentimental, obsessive compulsive, controlling, unconditional loving, navy coat hating, shopping fiend, that you have gotten to know here at eqgirl!

Now because I am sentimental, I get attached to every piece of clothing we buy for LA Saddlery, and it literally tears at my soul to have to put these beautiful items on a sale rack, blemishing their pretty white tags with red slashes! But sales are such an important part of the fashion industry because they let consumers try out fantastic brands and styles that they usually turn down because of price point. But I know in my heart that each pair of Pikeur breeches, each Animo coat, each Joules polo shirt, will all go to good and loving homes, and when my customer comes into LA Saddlery looking her absolute best, I will be proud to have been a small part of her fabulousness!

LA Saddlery is having one of our biggest sidewalk sales this weekend, and I wanted to give all of the shoppers out there some tips on finding the best deals on Equestrian Fashion.  I have attached some pictures of the tantalizing sales racks currently at LA Saddlery to set the mood!

First, never buy something that doesn’t look that good just because it’s on sale!  If it just sits in your closet with the tags on it then it wasn’t worth the $100 you saved.  I see a lot of customers choose an item that is 50% off over an item that is 30% off simply because they perceive it as being a  better deal. It’s only a better deal if the more discounted item will get you more wears and good stares!

Second, on the other hand don’t pass up a great deal because at that moment you really don’t need a new hunt coat, show shirt, or pair of breeches.  Do we really ever need new clothes? Probably not…but sometimes in life doing what we want is much more satisfying and life affirming than doing things that we need.  It’s really ok to indulge in yourself every now and then, and because you are also saving money there should be absolutely no guilt attached to a “treat yourself” purchase!

On a third note, sales are also a great time to buy an out of the ordinary purchase. Or rather don’t walk into a sale and buy yet another navy hunt coat, white show shirt, or a plain saddle pad! How about a fun pair of fashion breeches for schooling, a cute pair of wellies to walk the dogs, or even better an awesome sweater or jacket that you can wear out to dinner!

Like this fabulous Pikeur knit with removable furry collar…

Or this versatile Barbour jacket that can be worn all year round…and if you are like me who doesn’t really have the energy to go out passed 8pm, it can still be worn to the barn!

Finally and most importantly don’t think that just because something is on sale there must be something wrong with it! Maybe the store owners are simply feeling extremely generous when they put Animo at an unheard of 40% off…or perhaps they are just that stupid!  Either way take advantage now before they come to their senses!!!

Why ponies are better than boys…

Horses and riding played a significant part in my emotional development.  In fact if my trainer hadn’t passed away when I was 15 I may have continued to pursue my dream of going to the Olympics.  Even though I continued to ride for the next couple of years, my spirit had been somewhat broken by her absence, and I traded in ponies for adolescent boys…which I must say was a big downgrade! For me my pony was the only boy I needed in my life, and I would probably have had much healthier relationships through out my twenties if I had kept riding. Unfortunately on my equine hiatus I engaged in many dysfunctional relationships with men and when I finally got back into riding and bought another horse, I chose a ridiculously handsome and fit, but completely stubborn, hard-headed, selfish, and totally emotionally unavailable Trakehner!  My choices in men somehow spilled over into my inability to choose a suitable horse.

Now I always tell parents that shop with me that riding is a sure-fire way to keep their little girls in line, as it gives them discipline, confidence, and even though it can be expensive it still may end up being cheaper than years of therapy…or worse rehab!

This past weekend I had the pleasure of outfitting four young ladies for a marketing campaign. I knew the girls were going to be younger, I figured 18 to 22 years old…and when they showed up all tall, curvy, and beautiful, I was absolutely shocked to find out they were only 14 and 15 year olds! WHAT!  Yeah they need to stay hidden in the barn for at least 4-5 more years!

But I had a great time dressing them up, each representing a different aspect of the Equestrian lifestyle.

First we have the lovely Lindsey who had been styled by LA Saddlery awhile back in head to toe Animo.  To me this is a perfect example of a refined but modern show look that can be easily worn in a jumper or hunter class.  She is polished, perfectly tailored, and guess what…is in tan, white and navy! But somehow she makes this color palette pop!

Next we have the adorable Danielle dressed in my take of what a true hunter girl should like!  She is wearing a soft white and light blue striped Le Fash shirt under a gorgeous brown plaid Grand Prix coat with a pop of dark tan and orange on the collar to brighten up her face. The natural and organic hues of the brown as well as the subtly of the collar details are a perfect match for her beautiful blond locks and light complexion.

This next one ended up being my personal favorite.  Emily is our everyday rider, but could easily wear this ensemble in one of her  jumper classes as well. The jumpers as you know have much less stringent rules regarding apparel in the show arena.  The navy, french blue, and white really contrast well together and look sharp with her stunning chocolate hair and olive skin.  The tuxedo top is from Cavalleria Toscana, the breeches are B//Vertigo, and the boots are Guarnieri.  All in all she looks spectacular!

Finally we have Willow…this one was a firecracker!  She was our lifestyle model and so I wanted her to look like she would be at home in the barn or hanging out with her friends.  Because you know I have an addiction to white breeches, I had to put her in Cavallo. And since the whole “plaid incident” I  also am quite attached to the Le Fash shirts, and wanted to show how incredible they look without a coat.  She has my favorite martingale belt over it and is sporting the GPA Lady fashion boots.  She pretty much owns this whole look despite her very young age!

If I could go back in time when I was these girls age, I would have a little sit down with myself and explain that while boys can be quite dreamy and very exciting they will rarely give you the same sense of security, confidence, and unconditional love that a pony can provide to a budding young woman.  Build a healthy relationship with your pony first and when you have successfully created a strong bond and established mutual trust and understanding with him, then you can move onto boys…well preferably men, though they may be near extinction at this point!

Bridle & Bridal

September 29th, 2007, Michael Lydon Connolly, against all better judgement and reasonable sanity, decided to marry me in Ojai, California.  

In a couple of weeks we will be celebrating our fifth year of marriage, and our tenth year as a couple.   And despite some ups and downs…and one pretty big landslide, we make a great team, and I can honestly say without a doubt that my wedding day was one of the happiest days of my life.

 In fact the 365 days of planning that wedding were also pretty damn good! In my next life I definitely want to come back as a wedding planner…I am obsessed with wedding stuff, from the flowers, to the place settings, and I would literally wear a wedding dress everyday if I could!  Plus I love to plan things, and any job that has the word “planner” in the title would suit me just fine!   

Two of my close friends will be planning their wedding this year, and one of them like me is a bona fide eqgirl! So I really wanted to dedicate a blog to them, and incorporate the two things I love most in this world…horses and weddings!  

I mean with the state of unrest in the world, this hideous election, the negativity that is running around like a rabid dog, the only thing that keeps me sane is focusing on fun and positive moments to come and looking at pretty girly things, especially beautiful dresses!

So for every horse loving woman out there who is in the process of planning their wedding, or for all those girls like me who just love sparkles and sunshine, here are some awesome equestrian inspired ideas to bring the bridle into your bridal!

Step one: The Invitations…

I love the simplicity and elegance of this invitation, it’s also very english and proper!  

But if you want to go with something a little more literal, I love the idea of using black and white photographs of horses like this one below. 

If you are more of a country girl, this one is a bit more personal and homey. I really like invitations that look almost handmade and crafty, you can almost feel the love on the paper!

Step Two:  The table settings…

This adorable centerpiece is not only playful and charming, it has a very organic feel to it.  I imagine the food would be light and the conversation joyful at this wedding!

LOVE!  This is probably one of the coolest and chic ways to use an equestrian detail in your table decor.  

This is such a fantastic and dynamically different place card.  Again its playful and sweet and if there are kids at the wedding a great way to keep them entertained!

This Hermes inspired place card table has the WOW factor!  The vibrant and rich orange is the perfect contrast to the rustic horseshoes.  And again another little great token your guests can take home and hang over their doors for good luck!

Step Three: The Cake…

They say the cake should be the centerpiece of your wedding decor, and I couldn’t agree more! Woop that rhymed! Just the thought of all that sugar gets me amped up…

Sometimes less is more when designing your wedding cake. I love the sole horse toppers in each of these two cakes. And while each cake is simple in its appearance they portray two very different perspectives.  

Step four: The Details…

Like in any marriage, it’s the little things that add up and count the most. The same is true for your wedding!  I firmly believe you don’t have to break the bank and throw an over the top lavish wedding to celebrate your union.  I prefer weddings that are personal and poignant, where couples write their own vows and put their own style and personality into the wedding decor.  

Take these lovely little flats. They tell me something about the bride, what her tastes are, and where her passions lie.  And they will make for a precious keepsake and a little reminder of her beautiful wedding day.

This is by far my favorite image I discovered when researching equestrian inspired weddings. Just looking at this photo I feel like I know this couple!  They clearly have a relaxed way of looking at life and “a bit” of a sense of humor.  Yeah, I definitely would hang out with these two!

Step Five…Wait for it…

THE DRESS!!!!

Whatever your current wedding dress budget is, I am telling you right now its too low! This is the one day in your life you will get to be the princess, the star, the most looked at woman in the room. Your man will be anticipating this moment the entire time leading up to your grand entrance, and everyone will be dying to see how radiant you look.  DO NOT SKIMP OUT ON YOUR WEDDING DRESS!!!  Seriously ladies its only money…and unless you are planning on several marriages, you can’t go back in time and redo your look.  And the only thing that looks better than you in your wedding dress, is you in your wedding dress next to a beautiful horse!

Which brings me to the second most important thing not to skimp on…your photographer!  Again you can’t go back in time and re-shoot your wedding if the photos don’t come out how you imagined.  Make sure you find someone who understands who you are as a couple and will take special care to really capture your personalities on this important day.

Each one of these pictures and dresses tells a different story…

So when choosing your dress…

When thinking about the feel of your wedding...

When deciding on the colors and details…

When choosing your photographer…

Make sure that in the end you tell your story…

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