Spring will be here in no time, and with it the U.K. will begin to celebrate the busiest season of the horse racing calendar. This is a big deal not only in sport, but also for those who enjoy high-end fashion. For many years now, prominent racecourses have been magnets for fashionistas, and high-profile races now include entire days devoted to the fashions popularly associated with horse racing culture. As we prepare for this festive time of year, here are a few things you should know about race day fashion.
Colour Depends On Atmosphere
If you’re new to horse racing festivals, particularly in the U.K., you may have it in your head that bright, warm-weather colours are part of the uniform. Indeed, this is the popular image for many races, and a search for race day fashion tips will certainly turn up a number of sundresses and accessories in colourful pastel and neon shades. And if the weather is agreeable, by all means embrace this aspect of racing style. But know also that in the U.K. in particular, weather and atmosphere can result in dimmer, more rustic attire. Consider a 2014 Guardian feature on the fashions of the Cheltenham Festival, one of the earliest on the UK calendar. In this feature you’ll find heavy overcoats, fur accessories, and a great deal of browns, blacks, and grays. Even the greens and pinks tend to be dimmer shades, all in keeping with what can often be cooler weather.
The Hat Trend Is Universal
If you’re reading about horse racing fashion, you’ve certainly seen and/or heard that fancy and often oversized or ornamented hats are part of the expected attire. In fact, they’re nearly a style requirement! We only mean to reiterate this, as well as to point out that it applies to virtually all major races—and men, too! Much of the focus on racecourse style is directed toward women. However, whether you’re a man looking for race day tips or a woman looking for fun ideas for a date, it’s worth noting that men also opt for stylish hats that are often vintage. One of the early previews on Betfair of the Cheltenham Festival offers a nice glimpse of the trend’s application among men. It shows not just a fan but legendary trainer Paul Nicholls himself wearing a delightful fedora at the tracks. Any men reading this may want to follow his lead.
High Heels Aren’t Necessary
It’s part of the popular image often associated with race day fashion: the big oversized hat; the bright and colourful sundress; and high heels. But the fact is that heels aren’t always the most practical footwear options for a day at the races. Sure, you’ll be happily seated at the tracks or at restaurant tables for much of the day, but you’ll also be walking the tracks and mingling on foot with other spectators. For this reason, some women prefer to opt for flats simply for the sake of comfort. However, stylish alternatives to ordinary heels often seen at the races include boots (if appropriate with the weather) and platforms. Platform heels in particular—some of them almost boot-like themselves—are popular options at many races, as displayed in the Daily Mail’s recap of 2014’s Grand National fashion.
Accessories Win The Day
Horse racing fashion is largely about putting together as bold a look as possible without venturing into tacky territory. Much of that has to do with finding the right accessories. Pins and brooches, ribbons and bows, jewellery and watches, handbags and umbrellas… all of it is fair game for a day at the races. The right combination of noteworthy accessories can take a standard race day look and turn it into something recognisable. This is certainly one of the main points worth keeping in mind as you set about designing a racecourse wardrobe.