HORSE racing is back to its pre-pandemic glory with thousands of punters this week descending on the Cheltenham Festival.
Reality star Georgia Toffolo went OTT in a tweed mini-dress with rah-rah skirt, pointed shoulders and voluminous cuffs
Penny Lancaster hit the racetrack in camel-coloured suede trousers and matching checked jacket, coordinating with husband Rod StewartCredit: INSTAGRAM/SIR RODNEY
A nod to equestrian style is fine, but you often see people dressing head to toe in tweed or wearing Peaky Blinders-style flat capsCredit: BackGrid
But many fall at the first fence.
If it’s not mesh naked dresses with embellishment that would give the Strictly dancers a run for their money, it’s tartan leggings or disastrous headwear.
Even celebs like Penny Lancaster got it wrong. She hit the racetrack in camel-coloured suede jodhpurs and matching checked jacket, coordinating with husband Rod Stewart.
While reality star Georgia Toffolo went OTT in a tweed mini-dress with rah-rah skirt, pointed shoulders and voluminous cuffs.
Years ago, gents would don their top hats and tails to hit the races while ladies would wear full-length dresses with hats big enough to be seen from space.
But now our idea of getting dressed up for the occasion has changed somewhat.
And the result on race day is one of two trends — toffy tweed or night on the town.
The morning will start off well with blow dries, gin in a tin on the train, giggling with the girls. We might even put on a fascinator.
But somewhere along the way, it often goes terribly wrong. Don’t forget, we are in March.
We are braving the British elements — in the middle of a field — and often fuelled by fizz.
A quick glance at the herd attending Cheltenham this week and you’ll see bare legs, boobs out and bum-grazing dresses.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve enjoyed many a happy day at racecourses — and I’m not saying don’t get dolled up.
We need every excuse we can get to put on a fancy frock after the past couple of years.
But more often than not, I’ll wear a long-sleeve knee-length dress, a midi-length coat in case the heavens open, and a small-heeled court shoe.
Oh, and I always take a sturdy brolly. It’s a fool-proof formula. And it has meant I’ve never been standing at the end of the day in battered flip-flops, in a rain and prosecco- soaked dress, with false eyelashes halfway down my cheeks.
It should go without saying that dresses must cover your bum — ideally knee-length or longer.
Coats should be tailored as a nod to the grandeur and smartness of the day.
And footwear should remain on your feet. All day. So make sure it’s comfortable.
Another rule of thumb is never wear white. Remember, you’ll be penned in with hundreds of people, and will need to eat and drink — that means ample opportunity for spillage.
I’ll never forget the images of a punter in 2019 who spilled red wine down her white jumpsuit.
Her pals got creative and decided to drench the entire PrettyLittleThing outfit with the bottle’s remains to create a tie-dye look.
Zara Tindall always gets it right, like with this year’s pair of black courts and slim-fit trousersCredit: Paul Edwards The Sun
A quick glance at the herd attending Cheltenham this week and you’ll see bare legs, boobs out and bum-grazing dressesCredit: Rex
Instead, just remember your coat — not only because of the unpredictable weather, but should you slop ketchup from a hamburger down your front you can cover yourself up, too.
When it comes to shoes, heeled sandals are a big no-no. They are great for giddy-up glamour but not suited to being outdoors all day. Try a wedged heel or closed-foot court shoe with a small, chunky heel for extra support and comfort under the balls of your feet.
Zara Tindall always gets it right, like with this year’s pair of black courts and slim-fit trousers.
COUNTRY BUMPKIN TRY-HARD
Also, don’t be one of those country bumpkin try-hards.
A nod to equestrian style is fine, but you often see people dressing head to toe in tweed or wearing Peaky Blinders-style flat caps.
Cases in point this year — TV presenter Richard Hammond in a tweed suit and singer Ronan Keating’s wife Storm sporting a cap. Ladies, leave that look to the lads and wear a sophisticated hat for the day.
The rules are simple: If you have a wide face, look for fascinators or hats with height.
For a slim or long face, try a wide hat to create balance.
Sophie Wessex always manages to get her headgear perfect, and she keeps the tweed toned down. The poshest of the posh, like royals, go for florals or bold check instead.
Lastly, the best-dressed at Ascot are always mindful of their boobs.
Listen, I get it. If you’ve got ’em, flaunt ’em. But just not too much.
Tastefully show the crease of a cleavage and leave everything else to the imagination. Showing off your entire bust is something that should be reserved for the comfort of your home or a night out on the pull.
While it’s too late for this year’s revellers at Cheltenham, there’s plenty of time to get it right for the rest of the racing year.
Many might sneer at Royal Ascot’s strict dress codes, but it does mean those horsey-couture howlers are avoided.
My advice, whether in the Royal Enclosure or the stands, celebrate getting dressed up.
But remember — keep your heels low and your standards high, you fine fillies.
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