Nouvelle Habit: Handcrafted Riding Skirts for the Modern Equestrian

Dedicated horsewoman Odette Insoll’s recently launched brand, Nouvelle Habit, aims to bring elegance back to horseback, with a hand-tailored waxed cotton riding skirt based on the traditional riding habit. 

Odette started riding at the age of four and learnt alongside her mother and elder brother at The Veryan Riding Centre in Cornwall. It was here that her passion for riding grew - and, when she was just eleven, her grandmother bought her first horse, Oliver. Odette has owned a horse or two ever since. She subsequently trained in equine management and completed her BHS stage exams, AI & ABRS teaching qualifications, before studying to become a Parelli ‘natural horsemanship’ instructor – simultaneously working as an event groom, a riding school instructor, and a freelance coach travelling around the UK.

In 2014, Odette was involved in a serious horse riding accident and was critically injured. It was during this period that she decided to retrain and study traditional upholstery, and this was when her love of sewing and working with fabrics developed. The idea for Odette’s niche product started when she was asked by a friend to create a riding skirt for her. Due to Odette’s experience in upholstery, she was undaunted by the challenge. Moreover, she realised she would also be able to make one for herself.

During her years riding and working with horses, Odette has battled against the elements like every other horse owner. She has suffered from hypothermia, chilblains, and other unpleasant conditions brought on from working outside. She wanted to create a product that would keep both rider and horse warm and dry - and, in the Autumn of 2017, Nouvelle Habit was born.

Over her many years working with horses, Odette has gained a good idea of what a riding skirt needs to be – durable, waterproof, warm, comfortable, and easy to use. The midi length is ideal for learners and improvers, as it enables the instructor to see the students’ lower legs. After many prototypes, including setbacks when her horse Jester had surgery for a tumour, and she moved home, she finally created the perfect riding skirt. Each and every one is hand tailored by Odette in her Bristol based studio, where she cuts every pattern and individually sews each skirt. She uses traditional bone buttons and 100% real leather buckles, which she designs and makes herself.

We are pleased to have a small selection of exclusive Nouvelle Habit riding skirt designs at ShopCurious. Described as “beautiful apparel for the discerning equestrian,” these garments do not disappoint, in fact each one is curiously characterful, with distinctive vintage or retro fabric lining and its own unique personality. No one else will have the same riding skirt, but every wearer will stay warm and dry, and both horse and rider will be able to enjoy every minute of their time together.

By the way, do join us for our next post, where we’ll look at the symbolism behind Nouvelle Habit’s branding, and investigate the history of the riding habit. Will you?