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In just a couple of weeks, we’ll be in attendance at the glamorous Cheltenham Festival. Arguably the most fashionable sporting event in the British events calendar (although Wimbledon, the Royal Ascot and the York races are, depending on your own preference, usually pegged as equals), it’s therefore essential to look your best when you come to watch the races.
In order to help you look your very best, here’s The Vada Guide to Fashion at the Cheltenham Festival 2017. Maybe we’ll see you there?
Official Dress Code
Surprisingly, Cheltenham Festival doesn’t have a specific dress code and instead suggests that visitors dress appropriately for the weather. That’s unlike other events, where a fashion faux pas might see you relegated to watching the races on your phone in the car park. That’s great news for LGBT people, especially, as it gives us free rein to break the rules and mix it up.
The four-day jump racing extravaganza takes place in March, and thus spectators need to be prepared for whatever the British weather could throw at them. Which usually means that an umbrella is essential, even if it’s not an official requirement. Pick a stylish brolly, because then it can double as a parasol if we get sunshine or a gentleperson’s cane if we get neither sun nor rain.
Although there is leniency in the dress code, the event is known for luxurious, high-end attire that encompasses the sophisticated atmosphere. Make the most of it by exploring your decadent side – from a statement brooch to a tailored waistcoat, from a flamboyant hat to a florid weave, little flashes can brighten up an otherwise formal outfit and add personality.
Ladies Day Glamour
Even though fashion is a prominent part of all the events at Cheltenham, it’s arguably Ladies Day (15 March) that is the most spectacular showcase of style over the whole festival. In fact, Ladies Day is renowned for its glamour.
We’d be remiss at this point, however, if we didn’t point out that you don’t have to stick to rigid gender roles here – what counts as a ‘lady’ anyway? – so perhaps it’s best to see this as a chance to explore your inner femme (whether you’re cis or trans), or to show off the full spectrum of womanhood (we lesbians shouldn’t feel excluded if we choose to wear a tuxedo or a stylish dungaree pant suit).
Heavier materials, such as crepe and tweed are staples of the Ladies Day fashion parade, and a stark contrast to the delicate chiffon that we see when at the Royal Ascot. That makes it a butch’s delight – and shields you from the worst of the cold.
It’s all about layering when it comes to styling your ensemble; the right choice of garments and accessories can add finesse to your outfit whether it’s a dress or a suit.
Another popular trend is to wear a hat. In fact, most people remember Ladies Day mainly because of the extraordinary hats on display. We’d venture to extend this to well accessorised wigs and, if it’s more your style, the bowler hat and bycocket.
In fact, why not explore some of the more colourful hats from throughout history and wear one of those? Fascinators are a lightweight, miniature alternative. A well placed flower or sprig can also work. If you’re really feeling adventurous, consider a customised mohawk or bouffant.
Coats and suits
For those who like to keep it low-key, you can opt for rich tweed patterns and perhaps add a cashmere jumper for added warmth. Pinstripe looks good in any setting, although browns and greys might work better with tweed.
For a twist on the usual patterns, drop tweed for tartan and highlight your clan colours! Your legs might be too exposed if you wear a kilt in March, but tartan trousers and jackets work to keep you warm. Burberry, of course, always stays in fashion, although a small hint is usually better than head-to-toe colours.
Leather and fur may not be your thing, but fake fur is, thankfully, in again. You could always wear a Paddock coat – a less fitted form of the overcoat which has become a part of many people’s winter wardrobe – to keep you warm.
Trilbies make for more subtle headgear, but flatcaps and hair tied into a bun might also work. In addition, you can get plenty of mileage from a stylish waistcoat, a fob watch or some funky trousers. Vivienne Westwood pirate boots make a great addition here.
The BIG Four: Champion Day to the Gold Cup
It’s not all about the fashion, though. There is also excitement surrounding each day of jump racing, with Champion Day and the Gold Cup being seen as the two most important in regards to sporting action. Just as the event opens with a bang, it ends with one too.
You can check William Hill’s full Cheltenham Festival 2017 coverage or the BBC website for more information on the sporting side of things.
Hopefully we’ll see you there!