First things first. Why the love of racing for me?
I’ve been going racing with my family since I was a small child. I can’t even remember the first time, as I was so young. What I do know is that by the time I was 10 years old I was semi-proficient in tic-tac ( the sign language used by bookmakers to communicate the betting odds) and could give you a potted biography of Lester Piggott. For me, you see, there is no pass time more exhilarating than witnessing the magnificent thunder of hoof to the finishing post and the energetic roar from the crowds as the race winner sprints in.
Wicklow Bloodstock, who train their horses with Willie Mullins over in Co Wicklow, belongs to a member of my family. In racing speak owners and trainers are known as ‘connections’. Because of my connection to connections I get to many of the major race meetings and sometimes have the privilege of being in the owners and trainers enclosures and stepping into the paddock to chat to the jockey before the race. My love of racing has even taken me abroad as a guest of the Japanese Racing Association to watch the Japan Cup in Tokyo in 2013.
Now to the second important question. Why the love of racing fashion?
Dressing up is a major part of the experience. It can be quite a challenge to find the right combination of fashion and comfort. Cheltenham in particular is tricky as it can be still freezing in March. It isn’t that easy finding a dress that sits on the knee, but with a modest neck-line for the Ascot Royal Enclosure in the summer either.
Then there are the hats for the big meetings. When I say hat I’m not talking fascinator, I mean a proper millenary creation with a base of minimum ten centimetres. Fascinators are banned in the Royal Enclosure at Royal Ascot in fact. I’m sure this will upset some people although I’m not afraid to say it …I enjoy the dress-code and formalities at Ascot and the quintessential British country style of Glorious Goodwood. Fake tans and short skirts just aren’t for me. Hit me over the head with a right-on placard, but I’ll happily sign up to a campaign for tasteful dressing any day of the week. And as you will see from the tlfw guide to racing fashion, this doesn’t mean you can’t wear high street. You just have to wear it with style.
Chloe’s Guide to Racing Style
My favourite milliner right now is Layla Leigh who made my Ascot hat this year at short notice to match a Herve Lerger dress from The Outnet that I wore with a trusty Top Shop blazer, accessorised with Hobbs shoes and a Jaeger handbag (pictured above). Leigh is lovely, and she chats through my outfit over the phone, looks at pictures of my clothes and offers sound advice on the hat shapes and styles. My Ascot hat is called ‘Ava’ and it’s the one I am wearing in the post feature image. The fine fella in the top hat is my Dad! Leigh has also made my hat for Glorious Goodwood Ladies’ Day this year, which I matched with an old faithful Sara Arnett dress. The hat is called ‘Lizzie’ and I absolutely love her. Even if I say so myself – it’s a complete show-stopper and I am sure I will get many wears from her.
Racing and dressing for the races need not be expensive and it’s accessible for everyone; you can buy a ticket for the Gordon’s enclosure for the season finale in the Autumn for around £25, sometimes less and there are other meetings at smaller tracks where you can get in for £10. I’ve rocked up to a Plumpton meeting before with a group of girlfriends armed with a picnic and wearing a high-street dress, cozy coat, no hat required. So there’s no need or pressure for racing fashion to be designer or cost a fortune.
However, as always, I do advise elegance.