For those who like to pay attention to event fashion—rather than just fashion events—the spring horse racing season in the UK can be a fascinating time. Granted, at smaller races, fashion generally takes a back seat and people often dress relatively casually. However, at the major events—namely the Cheltenham Festival, the Grand National, and the Royal Ascot—fashion is emphasised almost as heavily as the competitions themselves!
This makes prestigious races great sources for fashion inspiration for the warm weather seasons that are just beginning to settle in. So here’s a look at some of the styles we’ve seen and expect to see for the remainder of the 2015 racing season.
We’ll begin with the Cheltenham Festival, which is the only one of the three major races that’s already taken place. Known to many spectators as an event that’s as much a party as a cluster of prestigious horse races, Cheltenham may just emphasise fashion more than any of its counterparts, and as such it’s always fascinating to take a look at. However, because Cheltenham happens earlier in the year, it’s actually best as a last look at cool weather styles, as opposed to a glimpse of spring fashion.
This year, the festival was essentially one long exhibition of fun, attractive outerwear. Wales Online’s recap of the festival’s Ladies Day shows the ladies of Cheltenham in fur hats, scarves, and coats, with others wearing rustic tweeds. Several women even found ways to embrace the bright colours often associated with race day fashion in the form of bright pink or shimmering blue knee-length coats. And then of course, there was a delightful range of quirky but irresistible hats, which is a common trend at races.
Next up on the UK’s slate of major races is the Grand National, soon to take place at the Aintree Racecourse just outside of Liverpool. If Cheltenham is a party, the Grand National is perhaps better known for its signature race, which dominates the attention at the event and serves as one of the most glamorous titles in racing. Betfair’s page on the Grand National competition is brimming with tips and odds listings for the competition, and there will be thousands upon thousands of racing fans taking careful note. Betting activity, live spectatorship, and viewing from abroad keep the main race of the Grand National at centre stage, so to speak.
That all being said, people still get into the fashion side of racing at Aintree. And in some cases, the excitement over the races yields an even more whimsical and inventive lineup of styles. You’ll see the same intriguing array of race day hats, but at Aintree the ladies will offer some of the first glimpses of summer dresses and warm weather outfits. This is also a great event to look to for inspiration on warm weather footwear, and you’re even likely to see a lot of options resembling selections from our Summer Sandals Makeover a year ago! High heels are probably the most popular choices at the races, but rugged terrain around the tracks inspires a lot of women to opt for platforms as well.
Finally, there’s the Royal Ascot, which has something of a reputation as the fanciest of the three major racing events. Indeed, the Royal Ascot is more exclusive from a fashion standpoint, because it is actually run with a fairly comprehensive dress code. However, if this doesn’t bother you, the event may just offer the best glimpse of high-end fashion of any of the three.
While Cheltenham and the Grand National embrace the fun side of horse racing style, the Royal Ascot tends to feature more spectators in outfits that look as if they’re fresh off of seasonal fashion runways. Vogue did a write-up of the event’s best style trends a year ago, and it’s positively overflowing with chic looks that, frankly, should be just as appropriate this year! Because of examples like those shown in Vogue, the Royal Ascot may be the best race to keep an eye on if you’re looking for high-end style inspiration.
When it’s all said and done, it’s a lot to keep straight! But for those seeking ideas for dresses, footwear, and stylish accessories for the seasons to come, these events can be as valuable as watching a fashion show, flipping through a magazine, or visiting your favourite fashion blog.
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