Devon Horse Show

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.