Horse racing and fashion go hand in hand. Events like Royal Ascot and Glorious Goodwood are attended by celebrities and socialites from around the world, all sporting the latest seasonal garments.
Many will assume that, when the mud starts flying during the National Hunt racing season, that fashion becomes less important. On the contrary, selecting the right outfit for the Cheltenham Festival is vital.
Known as “the greatest show on turf”, the Cheltenham Festival is the flagship event in British National Hunt racing. The best hurdlers and chasers from around the world make the trip annual pilgrimage to Gloucestershire in March. Punters and party goers join them in their droves, and four days spent at the Cheltenham Festival is truly unforgettable.
Obviously, in March, the British weather can be rather inclement. The weather forecast plays a huge role in what outfit racegoers will wear each day, so practically should be at the forefront of your thoughts when planning your ensemble.
The stands at the Cheltenham Festival often look like a sea of tweed. Tweed is the chosen material of most racegoers, as it’s warm, traditional and aesthetically pleasing. Men tend to combine a three-piece tweed suit with either a paddock coat or a cashmere jumper. Women usually opt for softer woollen tweed, brocade or crepe. Some form of scarf is a must if the weather takes a turn for the worst.
Hats are an important accessory for female racegoers during the summer, and it’s no different at the Cheltenham Festival. Percher and Pill Box are the most popular selections during the week, and many add either a feather or a veil to their chosen headwear. Cossack hats are also a popular choice, especially if temperatures are due to be low during at the week, while fashion conscious men often opt for a sophisticated trilby.
If you plan on spending most of the afternoon outside, then a pair of gloves are an essential accessory. Those lucky enough to hold entry into one of Cheltenham’s many luxury boxes will want to layer up, combining a stylish coat with a lighter outfit geared more towards comfort.
When it comes to footwear, over-the-knee boots are very fashionable, while heeled shoes are worn with skirt and tights. Brogues are the most popular footwear with men, with stylish loafers another common sight in recent years.
So, when it comes to fashion at the Cheltenham Festival, traditional and practical is the order of the day. The exception is Ladies’ Day – day two of the meeting – where guests are encouraged to wear more colourful outfits, and prizes are handed out to the attendees who turn the most heads.