From Saddle to Sundown

The equestrian look has always been coveted. One need look no further than the fashionable pages of Vogue or the glossy looks from Sex and the City or Gossip Girl as proof.

Equally fashion’s most prestigious French Maison Hermes began as a bridle maker for European elite and their cavalry in the 1800s. It wasn’t until 1922 that Hermes debuted a collection of women’s handbags. Before that it was known for saddle bags and stirrups - all items still sold today by the elite fashion house.

“When I was at Tatler I often took inspiration from country pursuits for our more grand fashion stories,” explains longtime stylist and founder of Disco Group Ailsa Miller. “There’s something about equestrian tailoring in a beautiful estate setting that will always ring true with their readers!” “Even now though, I can see elements of that style in a lot of my shoots. I take crisp white shirts on every job, especially if I’m styling a portrait of a celebrity - nobody ever looked bad in one.”

MIASUKIAnd it is for this reason that Mia S. Lei, designer of the eponymous Equestrian wear brand has released a collection of white button ups that seamlessly shift from riding ring to office, stables to city. The pleated Gloria shirt is hand-finished by Italian couturiers and its accented collar and cuff give it an unequivocal day-to-night appeal. Equally the crisp-collared Arabella made from cotton jersey with the buoyancy of a slight stretch and cotton poplin panels at its front is a modern-day classic. As stylist Miller attests, a fitted white shirt suits every style. “If you think back to the 80s Jilly Cooper style, the equestrian look has always been a classic chic approach. Riding boots have been in fashion favour since Princess Diana’s time. I think part of the reason it has such style staying power is that it suits any age.”

If you think back to the 80s Jilly Cooper style, the equestrian look has always been a classic chic approach.

Ailsa Miller

As well as being a classic style choice, the idea of wearing athletic wear as part of the every day is increasingly popular. In the United States, 24 percent of all apparel sales are now from athleisure - the intersection of sports and lifestyle clothing. This growing trend of choosing activewear for the everyday is a result of the growing acceptance of casual clothing in offices and for social occasions, this, married with the trend from fitness and athletic brands to release collections of fashion-forward, beautifully designed, aesthetically driven sports apparel.

MIASUKIFurthermore, young fashion-conscience consumers are also busy, time-poor individuals who need their clothing to work as hard as they do. “As much as I may have a wardrobe bursting with clothes after a decade in fashion, I still have a small flat, and I prefer every item of clothing to multitask!” describes Miller of her signature style. “A tailored jacket will take me everywhere - even smartening up denim shorts or slipped over the shoulders for evening. In an age when we invest more in quality pieces, it’s important to think differently about how you can repurpose them for your own style. A riding blouse can be tucked into this season’s floor-sweeping wide-legged trousers, under a dress for a fresh take on layering, or for its original intended purpose!”

Bridget Arsenault