With no official dress codes, Cheltenham and Aintree used to be more about racing fun than chic fashion – but that is changing. Now the question of what to wear over the festival can be as challenging as other big society racing days.
I was thrilled that Lady Alice Manners featured a photograph of my grey ‘Alder’ alabaster felt fur cap with green pom-pom (£225) from my winter collection in her best of the Cheltenham fashion chic in her Daily Telegraph ‘Country Style‘ column. She said my fur hat strikes ‘the right balance of retro modernity’.
I love Cheltenham, especially the Festival Ladies’ Day which is in early spring when the English weather is erratic. I think the curb on excessive bar drinking this year at the Festival turned out to be a good thing. Cheltenham is a society event and is the great ‘classic’ meeting of the national hunt season. As a milliner, I’m glad the organisers want it to make the meeting more glamorous and less a laddish day out to tour the beer tents.
These days, Cheltenham is much more than just a day out. Wearing the right outfit, especially if you are lucky enough to be invited into a box for lunch is as important as wearing a top hat (silk, please gents) and a one-length skirt in the Royal Encosure at Ascot.
The festival is four days so there is a lot to think about. Being March, layering is crucial. If you are going for more than one day, I would suggest at least one outfit that is topped with fur and/or tweed, boucle or wool.
A chic top coat or warm suit is probably the best here. But with the erratic seasonal weather we’ve had this year you may need to keep a lighter coat in the car in case the weather is on the mild side.
If the Cheltenham weather is cold, you’ll want to stay away from lighter weight fabrics, although light or bold colours are always a lift in the run up to Spring. The festival’s “Colour Me March” Wednesday theme is definitely the day to make a splash with some added brights.
Stick to tights rather than bare legs and a closed shoe or boot with a wider heal is advised. If it is cold, don’t forget your gloves. If you want to add a touch of glamour, add a
fur collar or silk scarf – something that the Duchess of Cambridge often does so successfully in her winter outfits.
My favourite part of dressing up for Cheltenham is what to wear on one’s head. Millinery plays a critical part in getting your sporting Season outfits right seasonal right as hats are the way you complete or ‘finish’ your look.
A nice racing outfit without a hat is like perfectly cooked roast beef without Yorkshire pudding or the perfect horseradish sauce. Fur, felt and feather are the way to go for this
festival. Save your best outfit for Gold Cup day, your boldest hat for Ladies Day on Wednesday and wear a hint of green for the St Patrick’s Thursday. It’s time to peacock in the paddock…..
My latest Winter Collection (‘Into The Woods‘) is a quirky and modern twist on traditional racing going style. Straws and sinamays are best kept for your summer season diary.
My ‘Into the Woods’ collection is ready-to-wear and available to view and buy online. It can be custom coloured by order to compliment your wardrobe. Lead time for other colour ways approx two weeks.