Friday, October 26, 2018

DAY 88: Dressed to Ride

Riding habit by John Redfern & Sons, V&A Museum

If you intended to take on the field as a Victorian woman amidst the elite hunters of England and Ireland, much less parade the sedate sanded avenues of Rotten Row in Hyde Park, you had to look as elegant and effortless as though you were gliding across a ballroom. Which gives me the excuse to engage in an orgy of RIDING HABITS.

Jennie patronized the firm of John Redfern & Sons, which she discovered as a young woman in their original Cowes shop. In a matter of years, the business had expanded to London and elsewhere, and became the premier bespoke tailoring for equestrian women.  Here's another jacket from Redfern, at left. The attention to detail is fabulous, isn't it?

Habits were complex garments, involving a skirt with a special train that could drape over the saddle, a jacket with long tails that hid the drape fastenings, and trousers worn beneath the skirt itself to allow free movement of a woman's legs around the saddle pommel. Trousers also offered some protection for the skin, and a nod to modesty if a lady was thrown by her mount. You can see the fastenings for the drape in the picture of this forest-green habit. Dark colors made sense when riders were galloping across muddy hunting fields; Winston remembers his mother returning home from the hunt in Ireland, when he would have been about five years old, with her habit "beautifully spattered with mud."

A few more favorites: Scarlet...Purple with green velvet trimmings...

...and Basic Black. This one is also by Redfern.  

For more images from THAT CHURCHILL WOMAN, visit the  Pinterest board behind the novel.

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