Paris, New York and Milan have nothing on the Devon Horse Show.
For the fashion forward equestrian, Devon offers a mix of high fashion and serious “street” appeal from the promenade to the Dixon Oval. The largest outdoor horse show in the country since 1896, Devon has always been a fashion lover’s dream. The fact that there is amazing shopping, not just catwalk watching, almost rivals the top-quality riding.
Devon has seen many fashions come and go over the years. Spectators with corsets and top hats came to see the early beginnings of the show while mid-century riders wearing rust breeches, helmets with no straps and pull on boots took their spins around the Dixon. As the years went by the spectators’ dresses got shorter as the breeches waistlines got lower. Traditional collars were traded in for wrap around ones and monograms moved to the helmet instead of the neck. No part of this show is a casual affair, from the best horses in the country down to the trendiest clothes around.
From the elegant pillbox fascinator to lavish Derby hats replete with feathers, gems and mesh, the creative and unique women’s fashions are sported by even the very youngest caught up in what it is to be at Devon. A unique sight is seeing the light shift dresses and hats previously reserved for the wealthy now sported by so many women on Grand Prix night, in the Leadline ring and even other days throughout the show. With Devon taking place right at the end of the school year, it serves as the perfect place to see the latest trends for the coming summer show season.
I heard two words over and over again when discussing what riders look for when shopping: breathability and usability. Lightweight fabrics, mesh inserts, and moisture wicking fabrics help keep riders cool and dry. From Tailored Sportsman IceFil to EIS show shirts, this technology is fashionable and functional - my favorite cross over! Usability is key when picking out riding outfits for in and out of the show ring. Shirts, jackets, and pants that can be thrown in the washer are huge time savers. It poured on Sydney Coldren during Devon day nine and her Le Fash show shirt stayed “completely lovely”, illustrating why materials such as these are a must when shopping. Fabrics with enhanced abilities are also making a big splash and as Jessica Rose pointed out, what is most appreciated is “apparel that repels stains, because as we all know, it's never easy to stay clean when working around horses.”
At first glance, the average spectator might be confused as to how you can have individuality and your own fashion sense in a sea of tan pants, black boots, and neutral colored coats. Upon closer inspection you see the monograms adorning the back of the helmets, or a spur that sparkles with the hint of rhinestones. Occasionally, insides of coats are lined with colors meant to be seen by only the rider, matching a pinstripe running throughout the coat. Jumpers have more options, some riding with their collars undone to sneak in a little color by using the freedom that the less formal discipline gives them.
Piping on show jackets has become a hot button topic. Over the course of the show I saw riders in multiple rings with white piping on their blue or black jackets. Personally, I love it in the jumper ring but have mixed feelings about this style elsewhere. It is not overly distracting, but does draw the eye more than usual. Some riders were a big fan of this because it is “breaking the norm,” while others were against it for the very same reason.
Customization is key in attracting new customers. A sentiment echoed by many including Caitlyn Duzy is that “my favorite is the Charles Ancona jackets”. The Charles Ancona tent had a constant stream of people browsing and talking to the reps, proving that their completely customizable jackets are a hit. Mane Jane has also been on everyone’s list of favorite brands. Their reversible belts let you add a fun pop of color while you are warming up, and then with a flip of the belt you can be back to traditional and conservative for the show ring. People have also started matching their spurs to other parts of their outfit, “the spurs with colored threading are gorgeous because you can still rock them in the hunter and equitation ring,” according to Jessica Rose.
Leadline, while not usually a large part of most shows, is one of the largest events of Devon. It seems like every cute kid and tiny pony in the world descend upon the show. Every year the bows get bigger and the ponies get cuter. A large part of the class is what the handler is wearing. Trainers, parents and sometimes even older siblings will walk with the child and they are dressed to the nines. Strutting around the Dixon Oval as if it is their own personal catwalk, the hats are massive and the dresses are lavish. This year, two different military men took their tiny tots in Leadline, which seemed all the more appropriate as it took place over Memorial Day weekend. It can be hard to decide which is my favorite part of the Leadline fanfare.
Thousands of spectators pour in over the course of the ten day show; from parents and owners to local equestrians and people from the surrounding areas wanting to catch a glimpse of greatness. With this crop of people also comes more fashion. The Grand Prix is treated with great respect, and as such only the nicest and cutest of dresses are worn. It took me years to find the perfect balance between effortlessly casual and chic night out as I started attending Devon at a young (and fashion lacking) age. Within the sea of people, you can spot the usual florals, bow ties, and pastel colored dresses. Wedges are preferred to heels, and maxis are often avoided because, after all, it is still a horse show. My favorite this year was a tan jumpsuit. It was a deviation from the norm, yet it perfectly encapsulated the feel of the night-sophisticated, fun, and fashionable.
Style My Ride would like to thank Richelle for all her hard work covering the Devon Horse Show for us! Keep an eye out for more feature pieces by Richelle in the coming months.
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