by HoofPrints owner Gina Keesling
February 9, 2021
"Here, put this on. It'll solve everything." 3 reasons why vests are best.
First, a vest gives you so much more freedom about the arms than a regular sweatshirt or jacket. Paired with the Sweatshirt or Longsleeve T of your choice, you've got more options for climate control, too. If you start to overheat (as often is the case with me) you can take off the vest without getting chilled until you cool down. This is not really an option with a heavy coat as then you get too cold.
My vests are a wardrobe staple that are with me almost year 'round. This soft sweater fleece vest is one of my all time faves.
First - the fabric is the best of both worlds as far as utility and comfort. The outside is a textured tweed knit that's smooth, so stuff doesn't stick to it like it does to fleece. And what does end up sticking, mostly disappears. I have both a black and a white dog, so am somewhat of an expert at being covered in highly visible dog hair, no matter what I'm wearing.
Inside, it's the traditional fuzzy fleece that we all love so much for softness and warmth.
It's shown above with the Heartbeat for Horses embroidered sweatshirt. This is a discontinued style and some sizes are already sold out, so if you've been coveting one, don't wait. They're 50% OFF while supplies last here.
Second - has to do with the pockets. These days when we all need to keep our phone on our person, pockets are a big help, and they're part of the reason that I love my vests so much. The pockets on this one are done right. They're NOT made of the same fleece fabric as the vest. The manufacturer could've saved time and money by slapping a patch version on and calling it good. But then you'd have pockets (while warm) that would also serve as a fleecy repository for all the crud and crumbs we animal lovers encounter on a daily basis.
Instead, these pockets are smooth taffeta. They don't add bulk, and they readily invert to eject hay chaff, dog treat pieces, etc, from every last corner. The only downside is they do not have zippers.
This grey vest pairs well with any color, as evidenced here with our cheery red Oh What Fun it is to RIDE longsleeve T-shirt. These Ts are a winter favorite; the preshrunk cotton fabric is just the right weight and super soft/comfortable. That's available here.
Third - they've solved an armhole problem that I hate by finishing the edges with contrasting chambray fabric, instead of folding the fleece on itself and sewing it all into a bulky, uncomfortable ridge.

That same chambray is also utilized inside below the back collar; a decorative patch that adds a nice detail that keeps the neckline and shoulders from stretching out.

I like to fancy up my vests with a zipper pull. Shown here is the Western Cross version. The black enameling combined with the engraved silver tooling really looks sharp against the grey tweed. There are 4 different zipper pulls to choose from here.
When it's chilly and the Great Thermostat Debate is imminent, I grab one of these and throw it everyone in the house; "Here, put this on. It'll solve everything." and it does.
Vests are a better solution than piling on another long-sleeve layer. The biggie for me is the collar. If my neck is cold then the whole rest of me is cold. But, at my age - wearing a turtleneck is not the answer. Because in 5 minutes I may be overheated. This radical temperature fluctuation is easily solved with the stand-up (or not) vest collar and zipper. In two seconds I can be wearing a turtleneck of sorts - or a v-neck - depending on whether I am chilling or sweating. This fleece vest might seem a little pricey at $49.95, but that's pretty cheap, really, for personal climate control.
We're a reclusive bunch anyway; and we took our governor's plea for folks to stay home & refrain from unnecessary public outings to heart
When it wasn't fit to do outside projects here on the farm, I parked my butt in my most comfortable recliner, wearing my most comfortable lounge pants. These stretchy, silk-like lounge pants are a HoofPrints exclusive. They're printed all over with a super detailed horseshoe photo pattern. The 100% polyester machine washes and dries with no special coddling.
Unlike most "novelty" products that are, well, a novelty - and not much else as far as utilitarian sturdiness, these are loaded with good details that you'd expect to see in a more expensive product.

Not only do they have a covered elastic waist for a neat look (who doesn't want that in their lounge pants?) they've also got a built-in drawstring - great news for those of us whose tummy is a little (lot) bigger than we'd like it to be. And it's not just any drawstring - this one's a chevron-woven, FLAT, cotton blend. Unlike their round counterparts, these drawstrings actually stay tied like they're supposed to.

And... they have POCKETS! How can one devote complete brainpower to serious lounging, when you've got no place to stash your phone on long trips to the fridge? Or if, (heaven forbid) you're feeling puny and need to keep a fistful of tissues on hand at all times?
At only $29.95, these are a tri-fecta of uniqueness, comfort and utility.
Hoarding pays off!
Who could have guessed that components I'd hoarded in 2010 for failed products would take on an entirely new purpose in 2020?
2010 saw numerous new additions to the HoofPrints product line; embroidered garments utilizing fabric appliqué technique, beautiful, locally made Vera Bradley style purses, and custom made dog treat pouches. I'd learned the hard way on previous endeavors - not to trust that manufacturers will continue to produce specialty items - and I'd definitely put fabrics printed with horseshoes and dog treats in that category. So I hoarded up a bunch of it.

Sadly, the resulting products did not sell as well as expected. I packed all that sweet fabric away in a huge box, and put that in the "wtf-do-I-do-with-this?" section of shelving in the warehouse - which happens to be right outside my office door - so I get to experience a nice dose of guilt/frustration when I pass by and look at the ever accumulating reminders of failed products and things that didn't go as planned.

Then, COVID-19 happened.
Never in a million years would I have imagined a HoofPrints catalog with face masks. But, 2020 saw me sourcing that very thing from a couple artisan makers who'd adapted their businesses to producing these. I found a nice selection of likely horse and dog themed masks; settled on one in particular for the catalog that had horseshoes on it.
Thankfully, the retail gods were merciful this time - and I found out before catalog went to print that the black horseshoe fabric was no longer available.

Another stroke of luck happened when I remembered that I might have some horseshoe print fabric of my own in that big box that had been tormenting me daily for 10 years. I was pleasantly surprised to see that I did have some; a LOT of it, and several other patterns that I had completely forgotten about:
And... not only did I have multiple cool fabric options for horse and dog lover masks; I had coordinating fabrics that would work great for the new reversible option that I'd just brought on board.
I sent the fabrics off to the artisans, and the ladies got right to work on the first batch. They turned out great, as evidenced here by the new Horseshoes and Hay Bales reversible pattern. This style includes a removable/replaceable PM2.5 filter, and has an a moldable metal strip inside that lets you snug the mask up close to the bridge of your nose - a definite must for those of us struggling with fogged up glasses.
And, for once, my hoarding has paid off!
Gina Keesling started HoofPrints in 1986 to provide helpful promotional materials for farrier husband Rob. Along the way she added a fun selection of horse and dog products geared toward women of a certain age. This newsletter is emailed to subscribers a few times a month. Watch for sales, stories and more.
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