Sometimes, a break from routine is really quite nice. The departure from the norm can just be for some of the “little things” in life. And by that I mean wearing a different color, pattern or style that you like…nothing so extreme as changing your hair color.
I’m pretty set in my preferences for the most part, even right down to the little details and features of my breeches. Over time, I’ve learned to be completely open to breeches that don’t fit into my normal profile in terms of style and/or features, because those pairs can turn out to be among my favorites.
So while I’ve always tended to be a front-zip or pull-on full seat breeches kind of girl, that’s not something that is set in stone. An area that I’ve never really ventured far into is the land of side zip breeches.
I think that part of the reason that lives in my mind is that I remember trying on a pair or two back in my early days of riding, and just not being super thrilled with them. But nothing more specific. I don’t even remember what it was that I didn’t like at those particular pairs of breeches.
I just remember that they were side zip. So I’ve had a bit of a stigma attached to all side zip breeches in my mind for the past decade or so. Which looking back, I think has been pretty unfair…because opinions and preferences change, and there have been many advances in fits and fabrics over the past decade.
When the chance came up for me to try out a pair of ladies side-zip breeches from Shire’s Equestrian, I was pretty excited. Actually, I was very interested in trying out my first pair of side zip breeches in…well, ever!
I was not familiar with Shire’s line of breeches prior to trying out a pair of their ladies Berkeley Wide Waist breeches. After they arrived, I immediately felt the need to pull them out of their packaging, so that I could try them on.
My first impression after pulling the Berkeley breeches on was one of pleasant surprise: the breeches pulled on nicely, and I found the side zip to work smoothly, and I didn’t have a problem with catching it on my skin. The hook and loop closure was easy to fasten, and offered extra security for the closure.
When I stepped over to look in a mirror, I was definitely happy with the appearance of the breeches as well. Thanks to the subtle appearance of the side zip, I was left with a crisp appearance with nice clean lines from the front. And, it just gave me a different look then a pair of my normal front zips!
The fit of the Berkeley breeches felt quite comfortable, which I feel is due to the 2” wide waistband. In addition to being comfortable, the wide waistband also fit my waist in a flattering manner (without leaving any unsightly gaps!).
And I appreciated the mid-rise styling of the breeches because with my build and curvy hips, I never fare well with a low or ultra-low styling. The wide waistband and the mid-rise, combined with the Euroseat styling help to make the Berkeley breeches fit well and look flattering during wear.
When I took notice of the fabric, it offered me a comfortable feel against the skin. I was also happy to learn that it is a performance wicking fabric, that features a Teflon coating to make them stain and water resistant.
And while the fabric stretched nicely and had a comfortable feel, I also got the initial impression that it would be tough enough to stand up to wear in the saddle and around the barn. Some of the other features that I took notice of are the Clarino knee patches, the slant front pockets, and the hook and loop ankle closures.
After finding the fabric and fit to be comfortable, I was pretty excited to start riding in the Berkeley breeches. Every time that I pulled on the Berkeley breeches to ride in, I was happy to find that they were not bulky, and that my tall boots zipped nicely over them.
In the saddle, I found that the Berkeley breeches offered me just as comfortable of a fit in the saddle as they did on the ground. And, I was also happy to find that the slant front pockets are generously sized, and offered me enough space to tuck my large smartphone into while I rode.
The feature that really took me by surprise was the Clarino knee patches, which I found to offer a nice amount of grip and functionality. And on hot days, I had a chance to find out for myself that the performance wicking fabric of the breeches does a nice job at pulling moisture away from my skin to keep me comfortable.
And I was pretty happy to find that while doing some post-ride barn work that hay, dust and dirt are easy to brush off of the breeches…because nothing is worse than hay and dirt sticking all over the place. The breeches are also machine washable, and they have come through the wash beautifully for me.
The Ladies Berkeley Side-Zip Breeches from Shires are available in Black, Tan, Olive and Chocolate (pictured). They have a retail price of $119.99, and you can find them here.
Go Finding Comfortable and Functional Breeches (While Changing it up). Go Shires Equestrian. Go Eventing.