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Riding Habits throughout History

  Miss Crawford’s enjoyment of riding was such that she did not know how to leave off.–Mansfield Park Ladies’ clothing specifically for riding was not introduced until the second half of the sixteenth century, when protective overskirts or ‘safeguards’ were worn, together with cloaks, hats, boots, and masks to guard the complexion. Before that, women wore their everyday dresses on horseback. In the 1640s Queen Henrietta Maria was painted wearing a hunting dress and by the early eighteenth century the riding costume was established. Dates of costumes, left to right: 1715 and 1790 The first habits followed the fashion of men’s attire, quite often adopting styles of military uniforms, and as equitation was considered an art and a courtly pastime, elaborate trimmings and materials were used, such as the brocades of the Restoration period and beyond. Designs were heavily influenced by the French court, but as the eighteenth century progressed, the English hunting country gentleman was a major inspiration, and habits became plainer cut and more functional. 1770 Colonial habit This eighteenth-century reproduction habit was made in red wool from the 1770 Colonial habit dressmaking pattern available from Side Saddle Lady (P8). Instead of the closure shown in the pattern, Side Saddle Lady cut 1 inch or so off the front, faced it, and folded it back from neck to waistline (top and bottom seams of the foldback were angled to match the line of the jacket), and added gold rope trimming and buttons, in a style similar to an

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