Research for an article sometimes takes me down a rabbit hole where the finish is far from the starting point. The original intent of this story was a simple report solely on the influence of equestrian style within Fall /Winter’20 designer fashion collections. Along the journey, I was introduced to the mainstream interpretation of the term “horse girl,” in this case by fashion journalists. I had no idea we are a cultural fascination complete with our own archetype.
Like most of you, I am proud that I have been called a horse girl since childhood. I always thought this description referred to my obsession with all thing’s horses. Instead I discovered there are multiple mainstream definitions describing our perceived attributes. I disagree with many of the stereotypes and will refrain from delving into this topic until a later date, but I find it fascinating that we are a cultural study.
In her article titled, Why Are Horse Girls Always Trending? CHARTING THE GIDDY-UP ENERGY FROM THE GIRL NEXT DOOR TO GUCCI, Whitney Mallett writes:
“Online chatter has coalesced into the archetype of an awkward outsider on the cusp of puberty, with long hair, glasses, and a packed lunch, blissful and unbothered by social norms…As the socially-awkward and introverted among us have proven themselves best prepared for quarantine’s self-isolation, the horse girl has emerged as an icon for these alienated times. But even before the stay-at-home orders, as we grew increasingly exhausted by aspirational influencers and their lifestyle porn, the horse girl’s clumsy unselfconscious spirit was being celebrated. Case in point: last New York Fashion Week, on the runway…”
Throughout the article, the author appears torn in her understanding of horse girls. There is a generalized perception of both privilege and awkward personalities, yet an acknowledgement of the value of our independent spirit and iconic influence. We will temporarily table this discussion to remain focused on the intent of this post, street fashion, but I will weigh in that a true horse girl has an unrelenting passion for the horse that influences all facets of our lifestyle for the better.
Equestrian themes rarely seem to lose influence in mainstream fashion, but rather just shift in expression. Somewhere between “fringe” and “opera gloves,” Elle Magazine calls out the term “horse girls” as part of their Complete Guide To The Biggest Fall Trends for 2020. The publication reported that they are seeing less western and more Westchester in designer collections. Think riding boots, velvet caps, and textiles printed with leather and snaffles.
Tapping into my horse girl independence, I am finding the opposite expression is reality as I feel a gravitational pull to my authentic experience of living a Western lifestyle. This year of upheaval has many of us craving familiarity through nostalgia. As the pandemic continues, I am currently decamping with my husband and border collie in the Arizona mountains. My go-to fashion is reminiscent of classic Western designs that I started wearing during a decade of my early adult years when I both lived and worked on an expansive, heritage-rich rural cattle ranch. This lifestyle introduces me to beaded Indian trimmings, cowboy boots, turquoise jewelry, sterling silver accessories, soft denim, embossed leather, and chunky tribal wool sweaters.
To this day, these elements play an important role in connecting me with fond memories of the past and this affinity translates to comfort in the present.
My fashion advice: Embrace your inner horse girl and allow your fondest memories to influence your daily wardrobe away from the stable. Think polished paddock boots paired with cuffed jeans, crisp white show shirts layered under cashmere sweaters, beautiful handmade leather totes and belts finished with equestrian inspired hardware…selections that make your feel good. As for wearing your knee-high boot socks with breeches on errands to and from the barn, go with it! After all, upon learning that horse girls have garnered a multi-faceted social perception, we almost have an expectation to be unique.
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