February 4, 2023
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Hot! Beating the style stakes at the horse races


Loved for centuries by many, from presidents to folks like you and me, there’s really nothing like the collective roar of a crowd at the races to bring people from all walks of life together.

Despite being dubbed the sport of kings, over the years Americans have developed a lax attitude towards the kind of attire befitting a day at the races. For us, race day is an opportunity to wear our comfiest pair of jeans, catch up with friends and throw back a few beers – while hopefully making a buck or two!

But across the pond, dressing for the occasion is still an integral part of any horse racing event – and none take it more seriously than our British friends.

There’s no place better to show off one’s wardrobe than Aintree’s Grand National Festival. Though no official dress code exists, all 150,000 racegoers take the opportunity to showcase their very best outfits in a bid to stand out from the crowd. So synonymous are the races and fashion, in fact, that the second day of the event – known as Ladies Day – invites women to partake in some friendly competition and don their most show-stopping outfits.

To be in with a chance of winning the coveted Ladies Day Style Award, women spend months painstakingly planning their outfits. This year’s prize? A Range Rover Evoque – so you see, there’s a lot at stake…

So, you’re focused and have your eyes on the prize, but what kind of outfit, exactly, is appropriate for a day at the races?

To begin with, a bright, colorful dress is an absolute must – Brits have to offset that gloomy weather somehow, right? The races are the place to see and be seen, so put the LBD down.

To combat the horror of duplicate dresses, many women will opt for a custom design, whilst a more budget-friendly vintage number is also sure to turn heads and create an effortlessly glamorous look. For those wanting to make a statement, an elegant pantsuit also works, whilst also protecting racegoers from unpredictable gusts of wind – be that from the weather or the rush as Tiger Roll flies past, who won this year’s Grand National as the odds-on favorite at +550.00 with Oddschecker.

Also essential to a race day outfit is a statement hat, headpiece or fascinator. The bigger, the better – no matter whether the crowd behind you can’t see, because who’s really here for the horses, anyway?

Crucial to any race day outfit is accessories, and there’s none more crucial to a Brit’s outfit than an umbrella! Any self-respecting lady will color-coordinate her outfit and umbrella, or even better, opt for a transparent ‘brolly so the crowds can continue to admire her from head to toe.

Finally, there’s the shoes. As comfort doesn’t tend to factor highly when planning a day at the races, any gal who knows what’s good for her will ensure there’s a pair of flip-flops stashed in her purse for the walk home! Or, if she’s expressed enough flair when planning her outfit, maybe she’ll just drive right out of there in those hot new wheels…

That’s exactly what Sue Moon, winner of the 2019 Aintree Style Award did. Sticking with simple accessories, Sue let her elegant yellow number from ASOS do all the talking and looked a million bucks.

But Aintree isn’t the only highlight of the racing calendar. At other festivals, racegoers must adhere to elaborate dress codes. The Royal Ascot, for example – a favorite of Queen Elizabeth – insists a woman’s dress straps must be one inch wide or greater, whilst a headpiece must have a solid base of four inches to be an acceptable alternative for a hat.

It’s not just royalty and fellow racegoers the women are keen to impress. The paparazzi come out in full force during races in order to showcase the country’s best dressed, and for the duration of festivals flipping through newspapers to admire outfit choices becomes a national pastime.

Whether she spends a month’s paycheck on a custom outfit or grabs something right off the rack at Forever 21, you can bet a British woman will totally rock whatever she’s got to work with – and that’s a skill money can’t buy.

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