This week's Cheltenham Festival signalled the first of many prestigious horse races that will take place in England over the coming months, with the next one up being the Grand National. And while the Cheltenham event is widely regarded as offering a spectacular experience for fans, those who attend or regard these races with an eye toward fashion interests may prefer the Grand National as a more traditional experience.
This is because despite the fun and festivity of Cheltenham, the weather in western England in early March can still be rather difficult when it comes to managing traditional race day attire. The Grand National, meanwhile, takes place in early April, and the extra month often allows for warmer (though not quite toasty) weather conditions and, as a result, the chance to engage in the fun and frivolous styles associated with horse racing fashion!
Now, horse racing fashion is actually a pretty broad category. One can have entire discussions on footwear, outfitting, accessories, etc. that would go well with the common looks one sees at the tracks of prestigious races. But within this broader conversation, there are a few absolute must-have items when it comes to race day fashion. So if the Grand National is something you've marked on your calendar—either to attend, or simply to keep an eye on for style interests—here are the items that will highlight the event.
Fancy HatsThere's no sense starting with anything else. A day at the races is all about the hat you find to complement your outfit! And basically, there are no limits or restrictions as to how creative you should get with your hat selection. ITV News has a recap from the 2012 Grand National Ladies Day that shows a nice range of ladies' race day hats, some of which may provide inspiration for your selection. Just make sure to have something picked out, because race day hats are the most important elements of equestrian fashion. In a series of previews for the Grand National races, Betfair's look ahead at some of trainer Willie Mullins' horses even shows off the trainer's participation in this common trend! It's not a festooned, wide-brimmed extravaganza like many ladies' hats, but it's nevertheless a fashion statement even by a man competing in the races that you can view here.
Stylish BootsThis selection may surprise you, if you're in the camp that believes high heels represent the gold standard of horse race fashion footwear. In some cases, you'd be exactly right. Specifically at the warm and sunny Triple Crown races in the U.S., heels are popular choices. But at the Grand National, you may find you're ultimately more comfortable in something sturdier and more rugged, both because the temperature can be mild and because terrain around the tracks is less than ideal for heels. In fact, the Daily Mail even did a full write-up a year ago focusing on ladies struggling to stay comfortable at the event due to heels! For a stylish alternative, we'd refer you right back to our recent peek at paisley leggings and knee-high boots!
Trendy JewelleryJewellery and accessories can be somewhat unpredictable at any major horse race, including the Grand National, simply because people like to use accessories to show some individuality. In fact, this is arguably even truer at the Grand National than at most races, because this occasion lends itself to flashier, more inventive styles. For this reason, rather than pointing to prevailing items or ideas from years past, we'd argue the best way to pick jewellery or accessories for the 2015 races is simply to keep an eye on the current trends for inspiration. Vogue has a nice start for anyone interested in spring jewellery collections, including ring stacks, mismatched earrings, and a number of other subtle but interesting touches ideally suited for Ladies Day fashion at the tracks.