Do you ever look back through your old riding photos and think, What was I wearing? Whether you’re wondering how your mom ever let you out of the house dressed that way—or are pondering the fact that you’re still wearing the exact same thing today—it’s always fun to search through the archives of old riding albums.

Although equestrian style is pretty much timeless, let’s face it—inside the riding community, trends change quickly, and it’s almost impossible to keep up with all of them. One of the most impossible (and expensive) pieces of equipment to stay on-trend with? The riding helmet.

Yes, it’s a no-brainer to always wear a helmet, even while training at home, but technology and safety regulations are improving at such an astonishing rate, we now have a new helmet trend almost every season. From elegant black velvet to the spur-of-the-moment racing stripes, NF Style has compiled a list of five helmet trends that make us nostalgic just thinking about them.

1. The Velvet Charles Owen

Growing up riding ponies in the late 1990s and early 2000s, the classic, velvet Charles Owen helmet was atop every little girl and boy’s wishlist. Sure, the original models may have made your head look two-times larger than it was in reality, but the Charles Owen velvet was my first helmet, and I stand by the fact that its classic look will never be forgotten. (Case and point: Luciana Diniz looks amazing in hers! See above). In fact, we think the velvet Charles Owen may be ready to make a widespread comeback.


2. GPA Stripes

The GPA striping kit was a hot topic in the early and mid-2000s. The stripes took off once Big Eq superstar Brianne Goutal sported the trend on Animal Planet’s Horse Power: Road to Maclay. With an endless amount of color combinations, the GPA striping kit was one of the first examples of personalized riding apparel. Although it was disliked by some judges, this is one trend that’s definitely missed.


3. The Classic Dressage Top Hat

Today, dressage riders are encouraged to wear helmets that comply with national safety standards, and even longtime holdouts like Steffen Peters have made the switch. First and foremost, we believe in safety, and we applaud those leading the charge to champion head protection in the show ring. But there is something slightly nostalgic about a gorgeously turned out dressage horse, shiny tall boots, and a sleek, old-school top-hat. Our hope? Someday there will be head protection that can achieve both aims.


4. “Stuffing” Your Helmet to Fit Verch

Have you ever bought a helmet that was a tad too big, but you still needed it that instant? As a kid, the solution to this problem (compounded by the hope that you’d one day “grow into it”) often involved stuffing your helmet with hand towels, toilet paper, stolen foam from other helmets, or any number of puffy, substitute padding materials which, in hindsight, can seem a bit insane. Still, even then, we knew the importance of keeping a helmet secure and not falling over your eyes. Even though this wasn’t the safest trend to partake in, per say, let’s all just agree that it’s a good thing there are so many more adjustable and better-fitting helmet options on the market today.


5. The Clear Helmet Harness

Sunday mood😆

A post shared by Jessica Springsteen (@jessicaspringsteen) on

From the beginner level to the Olympic Team, most helmets or hunt caps came with a clear, detachable harness in the 1980s and 1990s. A step up from the harness-less hunt cap, this trend attempted to satisfy the popular but concussion-prone style with an extra “safety” harness (Jessica Springsteen looks adorable riding ponies in hers, above). Although its legacy as protective headgear is questionable, the clear harness definitely earned its place in helmet style history.

-Featured photo credits: Thomas Reiner; Erin Gilmore; Shannon Brinkman.