Wylie-tested and bunny-approved, we’re a big fan of the new house-brand breeches from SmartPak. Here’s the full report:
I have expensive taste in breeches. Seriously. I can smell a pair of Pikeurs from a mile away. I like the way they fit, I like the way they feel, I like everything about them… except the price tag. The price tag makes me throw up in my mouth a little.
When SmartPak introduced a reasonably priced house-brand breech earlier this year, I felt a little flutter of hope in my heart. Everything SmartPak makes is great quality, and if they worked out, my days of robbing a convenience store every time I needed a new pair of pants could be over.
You mean I could buy three pairs of Bradley Breeches by SmartPak for the same price as…
…one pair of Pikeurs?
Pulling them out of the package, I felt a little weak in the knees. Have you ever gone out on a date where the guy picks you up in a sportscar (or late-model dually–I know how you horsegirls roll), and he’s holding flowers and he looks like Will Coleman, and everything seems perfect but deep down inside you wonder if he’s actually a homicidal creeper like that guy Julia Roberts married in Sleeping with the Enemy?
Yeah, I’ve never actually been on a date like that myself. But that’s what it felt like to get these breeches in the mail. They looked fantastic (omg adorable floral pattern inside the waistband omg!), but with a pricetag of $87.95, I wondered if they were maybe too good to be true.
Let me preface the part where I race into my bedroom to try them on with: My lower body does not resemble the lower body of that SmartPak model wearing Bradleys in the catalogue. As far as clotheshorses go, if that lady’s a thoroughbred, I’m a quarter horse. I’m 5’1″ on a tall day, my inner thighs could crush a small pony, and I have what we refer to here in the South as a “honkey-tonk badonkadonk.” So, yeah. It can be tough to find a pair of britches that can handle all the woman I have to offer without coming up to my armpits.
Wiggling into a size 26 Bradleys, I breathed a sigh of relief. They fit! Of course, had they not fit, SmartPak offers free return shipping.
Immediately, I was struck by the nice feel of the fabric, an 82% Nylon, 12% Coolmax, 6% Lycra blend that’s flexible but also has some structure to it–I didn’t feel like I was wearing yoga pants like I do in some summer breeches. The low-rise fit and wide waistband seemed hip and flattering, and I LOVED the soft, stretchy sock fabric around the lower-leg–I could already tell that they were going to feel great under my tall boots. Also, call me a superficial snob (wait, I already called myself a superficial snob at the beginning of this review) but I liked the little SmartPak medallion hanging from the waist–from a distance, it looks just like Pikeur’s!
Now for the real deal: a test-drive in the heat of a miserable, muggy Tennessee afternoon. Again, the Bradleys passed with flying colors–they’ve got that moisture-wicking Coolmax that pulls hot, nasty sweat away from your skin so you stay fresh and dry. The fabric had plenty of stretch; I never felt at all restricted in the saddle. My one initial concern was that the synthetic full-seat seemed a tad slick for my taste–I like my breeches so sticky that I feel like if I fell off my pants would stay in the saddle. But my worries were allayed as the breeches got significantly more tacky after a couple rides and washes.
In any case, it didn’t take long before I just kind of forgot I was wearing them, which I think is ultimately what you want from a pair of breeches.
They should just fade into the background, allowing you to get to work on what you’re out there to do–ride–not fuss with your clothes.
One last thing I ought to mention: care. It’s easy. You just turn them inside out and throw them in the washer. And then you let them tumble dry. For me, this is great news, because I can destroy a pair of breeches like nobody’s business. (Don’t ask me about my last pair of FITS, I’ll start crying again.)
Overall, I’d say that the Bradleys are about the best bang for your buck you can get. Which is good because, now that I’ve got the tan ones, I’m going to need them in chocolate and navy, too!
Check out the Bradley Breech by SmartPak here. Also available in a knee-patch style.