The arrival of fall brings not only the colors of the leaves but of the fashions as well. In the world of foxhunting, fashion plays a role in both tradition and fun.
Foxhunters are beautifully “turned out,” or at least they should be. Representing their hunt in manner, mount and attire is incredibly important. While there are many specifics regarding what is appropriate for dress, ranging from the number of buttons, to whether a coat should sport square or rounded corners, here is a look at the main elements of typical foxhunting attire.
There are two parts to a hunting season and therefore two different styles of dress. Cubbing season is a pre-game, so to speak, of the formal season. Younger hounds are just starting their hunting careers, and the veterans are getting back into the swing of things. During cub season, from September to October, the dress is more universal and offers a chance for flexibility and fun with an outfit.
Traditionally, tweed coats or “hacking jackets” are worn, as well as lighter-weight coats in earth tones. Marion Maggiolo, owner of Horse Country Saddlery in Warrenton, Virginia, travels to England and Scotland every year to acquire the best of the best for her patrons. Her store offers a wide variety of equestrian products, tack, gifts, antique books, clothing and the largest selection of foxhunting attire and equipment. Having carefully chosen fabrics from select mills in the United Kingdom, Marion carries a range of coat weights to accommodate the changing seasons and temperatures in the United States. All her coats are beautifully hand cut and sewn.
Another bonus to owning a sharp-looking tweed is the versatility of the piece. Not only can a rider wear it in the hunt field, but when worn with slacks or a great pair of jeans, the jacket makes for a perfect outfit to attend the fall races, tailgates, and other country social events. “We are not style conscious,” says Maggiolo, who keeps her tweeds the same length in keeping with the tradition of wearing the coat in the hunt field. “Our first loyalty is to the foxhunters versus the street fashion.”
Under the coat, a person will have a dress shirt that is of the pastel family or muted colors paired with a stock or neck tie. Ordain the neck with a beautiful properly pressed
stock tie. “Putting on a stock tie is like putting on a piece of jewelry,” said Maggiolo. Secure the tie with a beautiful gold pin, and there you have it.
Tattersall vests are proper to wear under the coat during cubbing season. They act as both an additional layer for warmth and as an attractive way to tuck in the stock tie. The vest should barely peek out from under the coat, revealing a subtle pop of color and pattern. To round out the outfit, a velvet brown or black hunting style helmet, brown field boots (boots with laces), and shades of brown gloves are appropriate. Black boots are always acceptable if brown is not available.
Rita Kaseman, member of the Loudoun Fairfax Hunt and the Loudoun Hunt, who is known for her impeccable dress and gleaming boots, has quite the collection of both cubbing and formal attire. In addition to her home hunts, Kaseman travels all over the county to hunt with different clubs during the year. Some hunts will require a formal dress only on the weekends and “rat catcher” during the week. “Cubbing is fun because your personality can come out with different patterns and colors,” says Kaseman. However, she adds, “There is nothing more sleek and impressive than an entire field dressed in their formal attire.”
Formal season marks the start of the time of year when hunting is at its peak, and hounds should now be hunting well, having been through their fall preseason. As far as the fashion goes, we now move from fall colors and patterns to classic, elegant and almost business-like attire. For serious foxhunters, this is the time for serious business, after all.
The hunt field moves from the warm glow of neutral tones with pops of color to an elegant show of black, navy and crimson scarlet. The huntsman is always a spectacle of timeless attire, adorned in his or her scarlet coat, white breeches (typically) and top boots. Masters, staff and gentleman members who have their colors, depending on the traditions of the particular hunt club, may also be in scarlet coats. Black and dark navy coats are always proper for both ladies and gentleman. Like the tweed, the formal coat also comes in three different weights.
If you’re not familiar with foxhunting, one thing to notice when looking at the field of horses and riders is for the colored collar on some coats. This honor means that member has earned the right to wear the colors of the hunt. Colors are awarded by the Masters to deserving members who have shown devotion to the hunt.
A white shirt, crisp stock tie that is white or cream, secured with a plain gold pin, is an appropriate combination. Over the shirt riders may have a canary vest as a second layer. Light or dark brown gloves as well as white or buff string gloves are also correct. Dress boots should be plain, black and polished!
Great Outfit For Great Sport
Berk Lee, owner of the Tack Box, in Middleburg, Virginia, has been in business since 1947. In the heart of hunt country, the Tack Box offers a generous selection of clothing, supplies and tack. Lee comes from a foxhunting family and knows exactly what a hunter, both horse and human, needs. She keeps her store well stocked with a vast array of clothing and necessities. “Foxhunters want it today, not next week,” said Lee. One misconception about foxhunting is that one has to be wealthy to enjoy it. As with any sport, there are expenses, but a rider doesn’t have to spend a fortune on attire to be properly outfitted. The Tack Exchange in Middleburg takes items on consignment and offers new items from the United Kingdom for sale.
There are many moving parts to preparing for a day’s hunting. If you’re new to the sport or new to the hunt club, always check with the Masters on requirements for the dress code. Most importantly, have great sport, great fun, and have a great outfit to enjoy it in!
By Erin Bozdan
Photos by Joanne Maisano
This article first appeared in the September 2018 Issue.