Ten Tips on Dressing for the Races (The Right Way)
‘The Fall of the Damned’ by Lydia Blakely (2019)
Ah, a trip to the races. A jam-packed day of placing a few bets, drinking a little too much champagne and even the chance of getting so wasted a snapshot of your bare ass makes its way to the pages of every major tabloid newspaper across the country… Royal Ascot and the Grand National may be worlds apart – or three hours and 41 minutes by car to be exact – but what they share is a promise of delivering front page gold and serious fashions like no other. There is yet to be a sporting competition which is able to topple the tabloid fixation both annual occasions nab each year. Though comparatively speaking, both racing events couldn’t be more different.
At Ascot you can expect a chorus of prim-and-proper dresses, fascinators at OTT proportions and maybe the chance of spotting a member of the Royal Family. However, it’s at the Grand National’s three-day racing spectacular each April where Merseyside’s fashion darlings really pull out all the stops. Hailing from Liverpool myself, it’s difficult to put all bias aside when weighing up which group of ladies take the crown for the most memorable looks each year. But it’s undoubtedly the spray-tanned glamazons who make the voyage to Aintree Racecourse, no matter blistering winds or torrential downpours, each ladies day in six-inch stilettos who take the cake.
The late, great Diana Vreeland was once quoted as saying, “it’s not about the dress you wear, but it’s about the life you lead in the dress.” Such wise words can be applied to the lasses who let loose each racing season. These girls know how to party hard, and look great doing it. They’re not about designer labels, nor four-figure price tags. Often multiple girls can be spotted sporting the same frock pulled from a Pretty Little Thing sale, yet no squabbling occurs. With a handbag-sized bottle of Moët in one hand, and a Sterling fresh-burst in the other, these women are armed for a good time only – with a day of bets, booze, and the occasional bulging boob making an appearance.
Kiko Kostadinov SS20
Standout work from the 2019 Goldsmith MFA Fine Art courtesy of Lydia Blakeley captured the essence of the Grand National brilliantly. Amidst a collection of toppling horses and brawling punters, the women of the Grand National are painted as celestials. In a sort of pseudo-renaissance glory, Blakeley paints the group of girls sprawled on the floor surrounded by their heels they have taken off and the Poundworld flip-flops they’ve put on instead, comforting one another out of a drunken slump. Blakely also depicts jockeys in their finest stripes. The glossy satin jerseys jockeys sport on the field formed a large chunk of the latest Kiko Kostadinov collection. The Bulgarian designer paid homage to the signature diamonds and swirls which often douse the technicolored racing uniforms, pairing them with flat-cap riding hoods and knee-high riding boots in a poetic ode to the Grand National.
Kiko wasn’t the only fashion wonder placing all their bets on channeling the racing spirit. Miuccia Prada staged the latest Miu Miu cruise collection at the Hippodrome d’Auteuil, kicking off the course of events with a proper horse race. The designer did a day at the races – city girl style. Crisp white blouses with pillowy sleeves and clown size lapels brushed up against Easter-sunday bonnets and mini dresses swimming in dainty horse cartoons. The aforementioned jockey uniforms were reimagined into polos finished in a boyish cut – clashing teal checkerboard with a striking red collar which will nab your attention quicker than spotting the horse you placed your bet on in its final hurdle.
Miu Miu Cruise 2020
If you’re headed to the races anytime in the near future, take a leaf out of Miuccia’s book and wear a hat at Philip Tracy levels of madness. Or equally, just grab a Topshop cocktail dress gathering dust at the back of your wardrobe. You may be donning a fascinator like Princess Beatrice, but remember, the perfect accessory for a day at the races will always be a bottle of rosé.