In Defense of Treating Myself

There are two main schools of equestrians that I follow on Instagram: those with seemingly bottomless pockets who are always wearing the newest trends and have impeccable matching tack, and those who don’t give a rat’s ass about all that and pride themselves on riding well instead of relying on appearance.

I don’t think I have the necessary qualifications to join either group.

When it comes to the first group, I simply don’t have the funds to keep up. I don’t have a groom to hold my horse so my whites stay white, I can’t show at WEF for 12 weeks every winter, and I’ve never spent more than $100 on a bridle.

And when it comes to the second group, I care too much about my appearance. And not gonna lie, I don’t ride well enough to outshine any untidiness in my dress. Many people do. I am not one of them.

So I’m basically stuck in no-man’s land: vain enough to want all the pretty things, but unable to justify the expense when I have rent due at the end of the month.

I think we can all agree that buying expensive tack or riding clothes does NOT make you a better rider. Something about turning a sow’s ear into a silk purse and all that. And there are plenty of options that are budget-friendly, neat, coordinated, and are perfectly serviceable. So why do I keep lusting over the $200 pants, when a $70 pair of pants serve the purpose just as well?

We could delve into a deep analysis of my inner psyche and how society has conditioned us to seek approval and blah blah blah, but let’s not. It’s really simple: I don’t just ride because I love horses.

Of course, I love horses. That part is obvious. But there’s another reason that I love this sport so much. It’s the aesthetic. And I think this is what makes it hard for me to identify with the second group: they have a love for the sport that is based more purely on their love for riding, and that’s wonderful! I love it too! But my love for this sport has another facet, for better or for worse.

I LOVE the look. Matching leather, sleek show coats that coordinate perfectly with the horse you’re on, subtle monograms, having every hair in place. There’s a reason the equestrian look has been in style for literally centuries- it’s the perfect mix of elegant and functional, classy and sporty.

So to the person who says, “if you didn’t buy that show coat, you could show in an extra division” I say this:

You’re right. I could go for the budget-friendly options and then I’d be able to show more often and probably I’d become a better competitor and maybe even a better rider. There is no denying that.

But I’ve made a lot of sacrifices to be able to afford this sport. All willingly and eagerly made, but sacrifices nonetheless. My sense of style and delight in high-quality leather will not go on that list of sacrifices.

Someday maybe I’ll have the luxury of a budget that allows me to have it all. But in the meantime, I will continue to work my butt off to be the absolute best rider I can be and progress at home and at shows. I will sweat through everything I own, I will tromp through mud without hesitation, I will wipe horsey eye boogers on my jacket, I will rest muddy hooves on my pants.

You can bet your boots that I’m gonna feel gorgeous doing it.

What’s your favorite way to treat yourself?

My (Momma’s) Closet

I love pretty clothes. Pretty things in general make me happy, but I loooove pretty clothes. Whether it’s perfect Tailored Sportsmans or an embroidered blouse or a flattering dress, it makes me happy to see. Even happier to touch.

I also love comfortable clothes. Comfortable rooms and soft blankets too, but I loooove comfy clothes. Leggings aren’t really my comfy jam, but I can’t resist those fleece-lined baggy sweatpants and oversized sweatshirts.

This poses a bit of a dilemma for me: every time I go shopping- regardless of what I walked in there to buy- I walk out of the store with (a) a dress (b) sweats or (c) both. My closet has a whole wall of dresses (arranged from casual to formal rather than by color), and a whole rack of sweats.

Clothes that are actually appropriate for my casual office? Those take up about half a rack in the back.

The only reason I even have any appropriate clothes to wear to work is because of my mother. Half of my everyday clothes are hand-me-downs, and the other half were gifts from her. Without her I would be the best dressed hobo lady at work.

So this post is really two things: it’s a lament about my own inability to buy my own darn clothes, and it’s an ode to my ever-providing mother.

I try so hard, Reader, I really do. I make lists of needed purchases- a solid cardigan, a nice blouse- and I march into the outlets ready to buy. I grab all those necessaries and I head to the changing room, and I make sure it fits. And then I put it all on the rack because booooooring.

But that dress over there? It has sequins! Never mind that I don’t have any formal events in the next foreseeable future, I’m sure something will come up. I could always plan my own gala, right?

And if there’s a loungewear/pajama section, I’m gone. I know I don’t need another hoodie, but do we as humans really need anything besides food, water, and shelter? Why should I deprive myself of that hoodie? Don’t you want me to be happy?!

Afterwards I walk out of the store whistling, sequined dress and XXL sweatshirt in tow. Can’t even feel bad about it because sparkles and cozy!

To a certain extent, my momma totally encourages this. We love dress shopping together, and she sometimes will see something “that would just look perfect” and I get a lovely package a few days later (be jealous, my mom is the best ever). In fact, most of my dresses came from her. She also knows my adoration of comfy clothes and regularly gifts me with VS gift cards. In total, she keeps me well stocked in my favorite duds.

Dress: Mom’s. Jewelry: Mom’s. Purse: Mom’s. Good looks: Mom’s.

But thank goodness she has more sense than I do. All but two of my cardigans were hers at one point, and all of my blouses and sweaters were bought with her. Using her mom voice to say that we are only looking at sweaters that day is always necessary. She has the self control so I don’t have to. How will I ever learn?!

Shoes: the same. All either came direct from her closet or were bought with her approval. Thank goodness for a momma with fantastic style and the same shoe size. We can share everything except pants and short dresses- she’s a tiny little Greek woman and I’m 5’9 in flats.

So much fashion in such a beautiful tiny package.

I’m (very) slowly starting to even out. My one fashion rule is to not wear sweatpants out of the house, and I’ve stuck with that for long enough that I don’t want to break it. Even if it’s just jeans and a fleece, I will not wear sweatpants out. This means I need those “middle” clothes for every day, and it’s turned into a bit of a uniform.

Boots, jeans, tee, fleece quarter zip. I have those fleeces in 5 colors now (and before you ask, yes, they all came from my momma) and I make an appearance at Target whenever they do sales on basic tees.

collection of fleeces
One for each day of the work week!

Is it glamorous? Nope. Do I look like a mom from an LL Bean catalog? Totally. Do I still clean up nice when needed? You bet your butt I do.

But only because Mom is there to compensate for my terrible shopping skills.

Do you and your mom share clothes? Or would you never be caught dead in anything from her closet?