Look stylish at the Cheltenham Festival with our fashion tips, straight from the catwalk
There is no official dress code for Cheltenham race goers and considering the weather can be unpredictable at this time of year, the renowned racecourse welcomes a more casual approach. They recommend that you ‘dress to impress’, which is a cue for our imaginations to take over without limitation. After all, a life with limits can be a tad dull!
I for one embrace the more understated approach as I prefer to opt for casual equestrian chic when attending the races. Women should look stylish and effortlessly fabulous, rather than try too hard with fascinators, oversized obscure millinery creations and matching dresses. It is not that I don’t appreciate women going to all that trouble to be in with a chance to win at Ladies Day, or get recognized for their imagination, but looking funky and imaginative, whilst being functional and comfortable is surely a better alternative when cheering for your favorite steed.
As we are currently experiencing a transitional phase between seasons, dressing for an outdoor occasion presents us with a challenge. Whilst it is difficult to decide what to wear, layering should be of primary importance. Start from the inside and work out; this way, if the weather picks up, or you get a flush of excitement during the festivities, you can simply remove your pashmina, coat, cashmere sweater or cardigan.
Having the liberty to dress either formally or otherwise at Cheltenham is welcomed, but we must not forget the fundamental components of equestrian style. The words chic, classic and traditional should be at the fore of your mind. History repeats and the classic equestrian look is one that will never go out of fashion. Such inspired fashion was a major feature on the fall 2012 catwalks, so you can follow the lead of some wonderful designers when creating your festival outfit.
Ralph Lauren, Gucci and Hermes are the established fashion houses that spring to mind when I think of creating an elegant horsey look, or classic preppy style. Ralph Lauren brought English tweeds, traditional plaids and three-piece suits to the catwalk. Top hats and walking sticks also featured to showcase looks that you can interpret for racing season. However, it was Tommy Hilfiger who won the equestrian edge by a furlong. His summary of the collection spoke volumes; ‘There’s an equestrian and military influence, mixed with a rock ’n’ roll edge.’ He was referring to the tweeds, riding coats and the pièces de résistance, namely the riding hat, which concluded the imaginative looks.
Victoria Beckham used a more subtle equestrian elegance that was perhaps less intimidating for the masses. She showed us that adding a double wrapped leather belt around the waist brings emphasis to a lady’s shape when layering. This is a trick that really works when you combine different textures and is a useful tip for Cheltenham.
Michael Kors opted for a rural elegance with cosy blanket coats and ponchos, mixed with the softness of lace and satin. He used a variety of fabrics that would be welcomed at Cheltenham this year, such as leather, tweeds and wools that were elegantly worn.
No equestrian themed fashion feature would be complete without a mention of the classic British heritage brand, Burberry. Their timeless trench coats are ideal for the spring climate and the new collection also boasts chic tailoring. Try a tweed pencil skirt, leather jacket or opt for our favorite woven wicker or stripe cap, which is wonderfully reminiscent of a riding hat.
Finally, a classic Hermes riding boot is guaranteed to go down well in the Cotswolds and will help you channel your inner Kate Middleton. If you leave Cheltenham inspired by the jockeys and fancy a go yourself, then Hermes allows the true stars of the show to look just as stylish as us. The brand offers specialist riding equipment and saddles for your horse. Check out this emerald crocodile creation; who said fashion is just for people?!