Guest Post by Katelyn Woodburn - Co-founder / Designer at Street & Saddle
When mesh started appearing in riding shirts and show jackets, I hated it. An American-Canadian who fancies herself of British sensibilities, I always looked back on quirky, tweedy riding attire of decades and centuries past for inspiration. Dandy florals. Plaids. Natural cottons and linens. Mesh was the definite antithesis of this, and I always turned my nose up at it.
Last year, I caved to the requests of my customers and ordered a bolt of black mesh - the best mesh I could find, soft and durable, intended for figure skating costumes. When the fabric arrived, I stared at it reproachfully. I couldn’t think of any original way to work it into a show shirt design. To practice sewing with the slippery, slinky fabric, I made a simple long sleeved shirt, with a double layer of mesh over the front for a little more coverage. Instead of using a combination of mesh and thicker, opaque fabric, I made the whole thing out of the see-through fabric.
After it was finished, I tried it on over the black sports bra I was wearing. I put my hands on my hips and stared into the mirror. I hated to admit it, but I kind of loved it. It was soft, airy, and sort of sexy in a very simple way. Later that day, I self-consciously wore it to the barn - I still felt half naked wearing it. I was expecting some raised eyebrows, but instead my coach nodded appreciatively and asked “Did you make this?” When I nodded she replied “Perfect. I want one.” And so, the Afterparty Shirt was born.
Begrudgingly, I wore my slinky mesh shirt everywhere. On Friday, I put it over my bathing suit to go paddle boarding and ocean swimming. On Saturday, I wore it over a lacy bralette to a fancy dress party. On the hungover, blistering hot Sunday morning, I picked it up off the floor and wore it again to the barn. That night, I sniffed it suspiciously. I smelt like nothing - no briny sea stink, no boozy fumes, no lingering horse smell, and no body odour. I think I forgot to wash it before I wore it again.
And so I betrayed my traditional ideals and became a lover of mesh. The Afterparty Shirt scandalized even show jumpers - by far the boldest of the equestrian world in their sartorial choices. It was cheeky; the wearer was simultaneously covered up and exposed. However, a courageous few tried them, wearing them over black tank tops for a more conservative look - and loved them. I got raving Instagram messages about the now somewhat famous Afterparty Shirts.
When Liv (yes, of Livin’ Eventing fame) came for a Canadian visit, she tried one on and promptly decided to steal it. “Everyone back in the UK will think I’m crazy,” she laughed. She explained that British riders thought the mesh shirt trend was So American, and I smiled because from what I knew of Brits, the statement was a polite substitute for So Terribly Tacky.
“Well,” I replied, “That’s because they haven’t tried it yet.”
PS: If you’re considering coming to the “dark side” and trying out mesh riding shirts, keep in mind that the transparent fabric lets in more UV rays than its’ thicker counterparts. This can be of great advantage in the war against Farmer’s Tans, but you should use sunscreen as you would on bare skin.
- Katie Woodburn
How I Wear (& Love) The 'Mesh Shirt' Trend
When I first tried my Afterparty Shirt on I couldn't get over how simple & comfortable the design is, I'd never think of wearing one riding but once I did - I didn't want to take it off!
I like wearing my Afterparty Shirt with a black tank top underneath on a hot Summer day or on a nice Spring day I'll wear it under a vest - or 'gilet' as the Brits would say ;)
We got super lucky with the weather last week in the UK, so I got to pull out my mesh shirt for the first time this year - pairing it with a hunter green vest/gilet and a pair of grey breeches.
A couple of girls at the yard noticed and asked about it, hinting that maybe the UK is ready to start rocking mesh just as much as their Canadian/American neighbours! I felt super confident rocking this unique style. I seriously recommend ordering yourself one from S&S - you'll want to wear it everywhere as soon as the sun comes out! -Liv
Order yourself an Afterparty Shirt and check out the rest of the amazing clothes on S&S's website here: https://www.streetandsaddle.com/