Win at racing style: ditch the crippling heels and sheath dresses

Instead look to soft shades, flowy florals and interesting silhouettes – and good shoes

Ladies’ Day at  Galway Racing Festival. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Ladies’ Day at Galway Racing Festival. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

 

With the Galway races concluding, and Dublin Horse show Ladies Day this week, we’re in the thick of racing season. As any race goer knows, away from the track and enclosures, the real competition is certainly a style one.

There’s also a lot to consider when getting ready for the races – the weather and dress codes for a start. Those codes make it tempting to stay traditional but this can sometimes mean monotonous dressing, a flattering shift dress teamed with statement fascinator is a safe bet. Exciting? Not so much.

Dressing for the races does not have to be falling into the body-hugging sheath dress/crippling heel brigade that often dominates trackside.

Instead look to soft shades, flowy florals and interesting silhouettes. Respect the dress code, but navigate it with considered pieces that push the style boundaries while not diverging too far from your own personal style. 

A mistake often made when trying to adhere to the style rules is panic-buying something we’d never wear again. Instead, opt for a chic midi dress in of-the-moment floral print, that you can recycle at a summer wedding too.

But, if you have dress fatigue, the new look summer suit in shades of pastels is a good alternative. Race wear doesn’t have to mean a full on frock – ditch the sheath dress and opt for sleek separates, a crisp white shirt worn with with an opulent midi skirt or wide-leg trouser will display a serious style game.

Tailored

A jumpsuit is equally an elegant substitute that won’t have you turned away at the turnstiles. Opt for a tailored one with cleverly covered shoulders that will give extra warmth.

Headgear may always be a perennial trend in race-wear circles but it’s also big news for autumn on the catwalks, so you can avoid buyers remorse by getting more wear out your hot-ticket hat.

Forget the fascinator and embrace straw boaters, jewelled hairbands and wide-brimmed hats worn with perfectly imperfect hair for an understated and chic look. Sinking into the grass should be a thing of the past, and so should hobbling trackside bare-foot. Opt for a mid-height platform, wedge or block heel that will save your feet on race day.

For men, the key to being front runner in the style stakes is a sharp suit worn with a tie if you’re aiming to look smart, or for the right side of formal a open collared shirt, with a little flourish of a pocket square.

Earthy toned suits like grey, or taupe feel a little bit more spring-like, but classic blue or navy are always a winner. For a current twist, opt for a blazer in a subtle check or stripe with a slim cut plain chino.

Trainers usually are a no-go, but if you want to loosen up your footwear, chose a structured loafer. And even if you’re not attending the races this year, the sartorial tips are worth considering for every summer event you have on your calendar.

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