Last time I was at Ascot, I didn’t really make much of an effort. A forties’ inspired dress with painful heels (these lasted literally 30 minutes) and cardigan. I thought I’d fit in – surely people don’t wear near ballgowns when they enjoy a day at the races? WRONG. I felt like I was heading to a corporate meeting based on what everyone else was wearing. I’m sure I saw a wedding dress or two, let alone the reams of bodycon, bandeau and well, boobs.
So the next trip, to the Shergar Race Day with friends to celebrate one of David’s best friends turning *gulp* 30, I knew I’d be doing things all differently. I found a gorgeous dress from JOY, a fascinator, and a pair of designer heels and bag to boot. If I felt a little overdressed on the Jubilee Line trekking from home to London in all my posh attire, that all changed when I got to Waterloo and spotted all the other racegoers dressed in their best and holding bottles of fizz in one hand. I felt positively well-to-do boarding the actually quite scummy train and sipping on tinned gin.
So. You’re thinking of Going All Out on a Posh Race Day. How do you do it?
Wear a dress. No, not THAT dress
After browsing JOY’s collection of summer dresses on sale, I chose an off-the-shoulder dress – the Louche Luxe Chance Bird dress, with an off-the-shoulder neckline with hidden shoulder straps (LIFESAVER), a skirt with box pleats front and back to add some glam to the proceedings. Duck egg blue and a gorgeous bird print looked so elegant and classical for what’s essentially a posh picnic. There was a heck of a lot of see-through lace and stretchy nylon on the day, and while that’s fine for rolling out of a bar at 4am with shoes in hand, it’s really not what Ascot is about. Think elegant and classical, something K-Mid would wear if she let her hair down. Made in Chelsea (I shudder writing this) is a great inspiration, one of the characters is bound to fit your own style.
Trust me. If you think it’s overdoing it, you’ve not done it far enough yet. You need to feel totally uncomfortable on the train to Waterloo because, by the time you board the train to Ascot, you’ll be surrounded by top hats and fascinators.
Wear a fascinator
I made an idiot move and realised I’d forgotten my fascinator at home after getting halfway to the station, but the effort was there. Whether cheap or expensive, flowy, flashy or fine fascinators abound at Ascot. They’re such fun to wear and I’m gutted I forgot mine!
Designer shoes are to be worn
I’m not a massive fan of heels. Not at all. But I did brave my Louboutins for the first part of the day. If yo have a pair that matches your dress definitely wear them. But remember, you’re on a field. So make sure you don’t mind them getting muddy if the British summer shows its face. And of course, most will sack off their shoes when the picnic blankets come out anyway. Don’t believe me? Check back on the photos above.
Take a picnic
Our first jaunt to Ascot was a bit more of a prestigious meet apparently. Some world-famous horses were trotting about and there was a clear distinction between those who had paid a pretty penny for the full experience and those of us who were happy to slum it on the grass. Some days, like the Shergar race day, are a LOT more casual. The horses come from far and wide but there aren’t the big names aficionados recognise. In fact, after a few tipples, most of us forgot about the racing completely and tucked into a picnic in the designated eating area catching up with old friends and meeting new ones. You can bring one bottle of fizzy wine or champers (no spirits, booze, red or white, fnar) as well as a bag of picnic nibbles to snack on. Well, when a fish and chips is £15, why wouldn’t you?
Oh and Pimm’s. Buy a jug. You won’t feel British unless you do.
I had a brilliant day. It wasn’t about the races. It was about the excitement of being with friends and the chatter about what we were going to wear and what food we were taking and whether we should plump for a bottle of Bolly or a cheap Cava. There is nothing better than being at a posh picnic in a fancy dress with friends. It’s something that just doesn’t happen unless you’re at a race day.
As the season now closes, die-hard racegoers will head to Cheltenham and others spots across the UK braving the rain. For me, I’m definitely a fair-weather (in duck egg blue) posh picnic fan. Thanks so my to JOY for making me feel super special!