When an invitation for a ladies-only dove shoot arrived two Octobers ago, Katherine Parker Clark didn’t worry about her aim. The Charleston, South Carolina, native is a crack shot who grew up hunting with her father and brothers. Instead, she faced a familiar dilemma that has long plagued women in the field: What could she wear that was both functional and feminine? Outdoor gear that fits that description makes for much tougher quarry than dove.
“I think any woman who hunts has at some point thought, ‘I should just make my own hunting pant,’” says Sloan McFadden, Clark’s then-hostess and current business partner in Covey Charleston, a custom line of women’s outdoor pants and clothing. “There is nothing attractive out there.” After trying and discarding countless big-name brands, McFadden—who didn’t grow up shooting but took up the sport when she married into a family of Lowcountry hunters—and her mother-in-law did just that. Instead of designing and sewing the pants from scratch, though, they took from their closets pairs that they already knew perfectly fit their particular shapes and transformed them into briarproof, water-resistant hunting pants. The result proved to be comfortable, serviceable, and figure flattering. And on a bright fall afternoon in a South Carolina dove field, Clark took note: “I told Sloan, ‘I want them. Other women will want them.’”
As of last August, they can have them. The field pants are available in two styles: Covey Original, with front and back panels made of thousand-denier Cordura (military-grade material that comes in twenty-two colors) and are meant to be worn over boots, and Covey Slim, which forgoes the back panel and thus some of the bulk so the pants can be neatly tucked into tall boots. Ordering is simple. You fill out an online form and send McFadden and Clark a favorite pair of pants. Based on your style selection, one of Covey’s three South Carolina–based master tailors will do a full seam-to-seam reconstruction, incorporating panels into the overall design before restitching the pants into something that will hold up on a horseback quail hunt or an amble through the dove field.
“We take the rise, stretch content, and the cut of the leg into account when making each individual pant,” McFadden says. “We place the Cordura at a high angle on the leg, thereby hugging the thigh and minimizing the hips. Women are built differently than men. We believe our field pants should reflect this.” You don’t have to be a hunter to appreciate the appeal of Covey pants, however. “They’re great for a day in the country or working in the garden,” Clark says.
This winter, the duo introduced two wool capes: The shell cape is shorter and fits more like a coat, with pockets that resemble shell bags; the shooting cape is inspired by McFadden’s husband’s great-grandmother’s vintage sporting duster and is longer and more dramatic. There’s a game vest in the works, too. “Our ideal would be to dress women from head to toe,” McFadden says. “We want them to go out in the field and feel like they’ve got the right gear and feel feminine at the same time.”