Who needs a fascinator? Alternative racing outfits to impress this season
Since attending race days became de rigeur for the fashion set, racecourse style has been synonymous with refined and rather conservative fashion.
The unwritten rules dictate that hats, gloves and long hemlines are prerequisites but back in 1962 these rules were all but torn asunder by “the most beautiful girl in the world.”
It was the Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival, and British beauty Jean Shrimpton was eagerly anticipated as an international guest to the four-day festival, injecting some European finesse into the biggest event on Melbourne’s social calendar.
With an Antipodean springtime sun that would have more felt like English high summer beating down on the racecourse, society darlings would have been feeling the heat in their pantyhose, felt hats and matching gloves. With the press poised at the ready, Shrimpton appeared on the course in a simple white shift dress, bare legged and entirely care free. With a hemline four inches above the knee and not a hat or glove in sight her ensemble shocked the nation and remains the most memorable fashion scandal to hit Australian shores.
It may not have been the European finesse they were hoping for but Shrimpton certainly turned heads and most importantly, changed minds about how women are expected to dress. This racing season why not make like The Shrimp, as the Australians so fondly dubbed her, and raise your own style stakes at the races with an outfit that breaks from the mould.
Go Granny Chic
If Gucci can do it, so can you. Take the lead from creative director Alessandro Michele, who redefined the house’s take on sexy with his debut collection featuring pussy bow blouses, spectacles, clashing prints, frilled tea dresses and chintzy printed two-pieces. The addition of lady like handbags and coloured gloves is perfectly suited to the races, but once you’ve added some bolshie floral prints and perhaps a flash of lurex you are guaranteed to stand out from the crowd.
Blouse: Oasis, €49, Shoes Faith at Debenhams €51 (were €68), Skirt Mango €25.95 (was €35.95)
Frocks are fab and all that, but there’s nothing quite like donning a perfectly tailored suit. With just a hint of masculinity, a suit is an empowering and completely on point choice for your race wear. There are plenty of options on the high street now, from floppy Jagger-inspired velvet, to rich jacquard ensembles and minimalist colour blocking. If you’re lucky enough to have sunshine forecast for the day, why not going for a chic short suit, or play up to the pastel trend for summer with this baby blue suit from Reiss. Adorn your feet with a pair of pastel heels like these embellished metallic pair from Asos and getting ready to take race day in your perfectly tailored stride.
Suit jacket €345 and trousers, €190 at Reiss; shoes at Asos, €63.38
Ruffle Some Feathers
Frills may not scream chic, but this season ruffles have gotten a make-under and are on the arms and hemlines of every It Girl. Small and dainty these are not; the new season ruffle is gloriously gathered and billows from the garment in unashamedly huge waves. This sleek dress from Cos is a conceptual take on the trend, finished in a smooth scuba fabric. Add some oversized earrings and bright heels for a show stopping ensemble.
Dress Cos, €79, Earrings Mango €15.95, Shoes Asos €56.34
Cool in Culottes
Not quite a skirt, not quite trousers, culottes are a chic option for race day dressing. Go bold with a super wide leg that is as swishy as a full skirt, with the comfort of trousers. This pleated pair by Victoria Beckham fit the bill perfectly, with large box pleats adding some a-line flair. Eschew the heels and choose a statement pair of flats like these fringed slingbacks and add a delicate gold cuff to add some subtle shine to your perfectly polished look.
Culottes Victoria Beckham, €1250 at BT2, shoes Mango €69.95, blouse River Island €45, pearl cuff & Other Stories €55