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Besides price and color options, what’s the difference between the wide variety of “cooling” shirts available at every tack store under the sun? Does the cooling technology really work, or am I wearing a long sleeve shirt in 90 degree heat for nothing? R4WB investigates.
Equi In Style
EIS was the first brand to popularize the sun shirt, which came onto the market by the summer of 2012. I’ll never forget the mass hysteria they induced. My first thought was, “Why the @&!% would I voluntarily wear a long sleeve shirt when polos exist?” Then, I was drawn in by the pretty colors and the mesh under the arms, and quickly sold my soul to the sun shirt devil. Forget polos! Over the years, I’ve amassed quite a few shirts from EIS and appreciate the wide variety of color options and the air flow provided by the partial mesh sleeve. They may have fixed this problem, but in the beginning, fit varied widely from color to color and sizing was never consistent. Yes, the price may seem a bit steep, but my EIS shirts have held up exceptionally well, and most look great even after 4+ years of wear and tear.
For a while, I was a sun shirt purist and refused to give up my loyalty to EIS, despite the multitude of equestrian clothiers who joined the cooling shirt trend. But then I met Kastel. The first thing I noticed was how stretchy the fabric was, which is pretty important to us equestrians as we’re always on the move. The second thing I appreciated was the length, because there is absolutely NOTHING worse than a shirt that won’t stay tucked into my breeches. Of the five brands reviewed here, Kastel is probably the trendiest, given the signature embroidery on either the chest or the right sleeve. These are also popular among dressage queens thanks to the brand’s owner, Charlotte Jorst, who is a lovely rider at the FEI level (Seriously, she always has a huge smile on her face the whole time she’s in the sandbox. We could learn a thing or two from her!).
Tailored Sportsman has breech-making down to a science. When they hopped on the sun shirt bandwagon, I thought, “Careful, TS. Don’t let me down.” Despite the leaning tower of TS breeches sitting in my closet, I held off on purchasing a sun shirt from by beloved brand until January of this year. As soon as I put it on, I cursed myself for waiting so long. Folks, these babies are SOFT and the material feels the most lightweight of the five. Even better: the price point can’t be beat and the colors pair perfectly with your favorite TS pants.
Bette & Court
Originally designed for golfers, the Bette & Court Cool Elements shirt has also made it’s way into tack stores. As far as “cooling” technology goes, I think Bette & Court has it down–I truly feel the air flow when I wear mine. The fabric isn’t as soft as Tailored Sportsman or Kastel, but I’m willing to overlook that for the way they keep me cool. They offer both a mock collar and a polo collar in a variety of colors. Interested in buying a R4WB Bette & Court sun shirt? Shop them here!
Thanks to a very generous giveaway from Equine Journal, I received a $1,000 shopping spree to Noble Outfitters. Prior to winning the giveaway, I had no experience with NO’s clothing line. But, give me $1,000 to shop, and I’ll make the most of it. Noble Outfitters’ sun shirts vary from EIS, Kastel, and TS in that they are more tailored through both the torso and the sleeve. They also have a loop on the back of the neck for a stock tie, if you’re into the whole wearing-a-stock-with-a-sun-shirt look. In my experience, the cooling technology isn’t the best and I do feel a little toasty when I wear mine on a really hot day. But, they do offer options with printed mesh (exciting!) under the arms, which is unique and pretty darn cute.
DO THESE THINGS EVEN WORK?
The answer is, yes and no. If you’re conscious of the amount of sun you let your precious skin see, any of these five options would be great additions to your riding wardrobe. If you’re really sensitive to the heat and skeptical about the whole “cooling” technology thing, start with the Tailored Sportsman Ice Fil and go from there. And if you really want to get fancy, check out the Le Fash Paulo Alto, which comes in both short and long sleeve options and are at home in both the schooling ring and the show ring.
Stay cool out there.
– XOXO Kate