A day at the races is about so much more than the excitement of watching the horses, the thrill of trying to back a winner, and sourcing the best lunch option from the burger vans. So many other elements combine to make a trip to the races special, and one of those elements is fashion. Some race days, like Ladies Day at Cheltenham, demand as much of a focus upon what racegoers actually wear as which horse they put their money on when they get to the course.
With this year’s Cheltenham Festival just weeks away, and the Cheltenham Ladies Day odds in particular starting to draw in early punters online – those who favoured long-odds winners were lucky last year when they backed fancy-named Party Rock and Buveur D’Air – what exactly will the Cheltenham look be for 2017?
What’s the Official Stance?
Strange as it may seem, there isn’t actually an official dress code at Cheltenham, even for the week of the festival. The only official guidance focuses on fancy dress not being permitted in the Club Enclosure.
— Powder Cashmere (@PowderCashmere) March 16, 2016
Freedom is, therefore, the name of the game when it comes to picking out an outfit suitable for Cheltenham this spring. In 2016, floral designs were overtly on-trend. A floral-themed outfit was worn by Miss Cheltenham 2016, Sophie Lydia Smith, whose eye-catching red floral headwear also gave a nod to the importance of hats and headwear in the context of last year’s Cheltenham fashion.
Keeping on Trend In 2017
2016 also put a heavy emphasis on bright colours, especially for those who opted not to go down the floral route. If the weather forecast for this year’s festival is good, bright colours could yet again be the order of the day. Just remember to avoid colour clashes (and remember that stripes going in different directions just don’t work well!).
In terms of headwear, some of the best designs from 2016 focused on classic looks injected with a twist, with uniquely styled veils, for instance, making their owners stand out from the crowd. It does always pay to be practical with headwear, though, with some of the quirkier headwear ideas from last year ending up on the dreaded “worst dressed” lists, so perhaps avoid the overly ‘feathered’ look of some of 2016’s incarnations this year.
Keeping It Practical
Bright colours, veils, and feathers aside, the best way to obtain a classy look is to avoid clashing your outfit with the environment in which you’ll be spending your day. Six-inch heels from Kurt Geiger might well lend you a look of sophistication as you enter the racecourse, but as soon as you start to sink into the mud by the track, you’ll end up with somewhat of a less classy look.
Don’t Forget the Men!
Fashion is, of course, not exclusive to the ladies. Men may not have to worry quite so much about the practicality of their footwear, but the choice of what to wear can still be a huge challenge. This year, although there will still be some racegoers who can’t let go of the fluorescent pink suits, men are recommended to keep it simple with classic styles like tweed.
Whatever you wear, remember that racing is not just about what you see out on the track, but all about being seen as well, so if you feel like you can set the next style trend, there are few better places to strut your stuff than Cheltenham.