I found it one winter when I was cross country skiing at Royal Gorge in Soda Springs, California. I had sweaters and jackets with me, but the jackets were just too warm for all the activity I was doing, and the sweaters left me still a bit chilled. After spotting the vest in a sporting goods shop, it was love at first sight. It fit snugly and comfortably, the shaggy pile was soft and all I had to do was wear my merino wool Icebreaker hoody (which I also carry on all my trips), and top it with the vest and I was warm without becoming overheated once I hit the trails hard.
But, for me, the vest plays many roles when I travel. It also works as a pillow or a lumbar support on the plane.
Yet, despite my love affair with this vest, I somehow never explored the other products that Horny Toad manufactured, until this summer. That's when I found out they had some cute dresses and I decided to test out three of them.
First off, Horny Toad is a company that's in keeping with my world view and politics. They try to be as eco-friendly as possible, using sustainable fibers, and they also get involved with good social causes. (Among their "do good" activities, they partner with a company (which is involved with providing all sorts of opportunities to developmentally-impaired adults) that does their web order fulfillment, and they also donate clothing to homeless shelters.)
Second, the clothes are simple, fun and functional. Two of the three dresses I tried -- the SKA
and the Double Helix dress -- combine organic cotton with other eco-friendly fibers allowing the dresses to dry relatively quickly when wet and to remain if not wrinkle free after I unpack them, at least the wrinkles didn't hang around long once I wore the dresses around town.
Both of them felt so comfortable that, despite the 100-degree weather here in New York City, I wore them most of the summer, washing them frequently, and wearing them day and night.
Since I wore them all the time, they were bound to become stained with ketchup, mustard and even curry sauce. All I did in each case -- and I was in restaurants so there was no chance to take the dress off and launder it -- was run into the ladies room, and quickly wash out the stain while I was still wearing the dress. And, then I went back to my meal or I raced around the city to my appointments. Both dresses dried quickly while I was walking about. And, no one even seemed to notice my little incident.
Both the SKA and Double Helix were perfect for informal summer afternoons where I would go to Williamsburg, Brooklyn to check out new ice cream shops. But they also worked well when I had to go into meetings in Midtown as well as when I was checking out new bars and restaurants at night. To go from day to night, all I did was add a scarf or a cardigan. In fact, my business banker at Chase admired these two dresses and said she wished she could dress so casually fashionable at work.
I did mention that I tried three dresses and the third is the Dizzie. And, while it is constructed solely of organic cotton -- which means it does wrinkle and doesn't dry all that quickly -- I still found myself bringing it on some of my trips because it just looked so great (it had an unusual plaid pattern) and wore well. Since I felt it has a country charm type of style, I took it with me when I did my rails-to-trails trip this summer in the Midwest and the south. I wore it during the day in Little Rock, Arkansas when the temperatures soared into the 100s and at night when we visited wine bars. Again, I received plenty of complements.
Another thing I loved about all three dresses is that it got me away from my all-blank color palette that I perpetually wear in Manhattan.
So, now I have more than a love affair with the Tomboy Vest. My love affair extends to Horny Toad.