When it comes to fashionable events in the sporting calendar, it doesn’t get much more glamorous than Ladies Day. Whilst we tend to only think of Royal Ascot as holding this occasion, people are often surprised to hear that most racecourses hold at least one a year. If you’re thinking of dusting off your fascinator and donning your high heels, then here’s all you need to know about the fashion of Ladies Day.
First, A Little History
The first time the term Ladies Day was used to describe the Gold Cup Day at Royal Ascot was all the way back in 1823, when an unknown poet described the day as ‘Ladies’ Day… when the women, like angels, look sweetly divine.’ After the popularity of this turn of phrase, the name began to be used colloquially and, although this racecourse doesn’t use it any longer, it is used by many other courses. At its inception, Ladies Day was free or discounted for ladies in attendance, but nowadays it is so popular that neither gender benefit from a ticket deduction.
Although it holds the most famous Ladies Day, Ascot is one of the only courses not to offer prizes for best dressed. However, this certainly doesn’t stop people from really going to town on flamboyant outfits. It’s understandable why of course; the Queen is in attendance and if you’re going to want to look your best for anyone, it’s surely her. If you’re after a racecourse that will give you some (cash) recognition for your efforts, then Kelso is a good option, with prizes for Best Dressed Lady, Best Dressed Couple and the much sought after, Best Hat.
How Does the Day Pan Out?
Ladies Day combines the thrills of horse racing with the height of fashion setting; the perfect stage for a day out of the normal routine. Having a bet on the racing is all part of the fun of the competition; although the focus sometimes tends to be on the fashion, it’s important not to forget that most people are there for the horses. Following the latest results and statistics in the main online bookmakers’ sites can help those bettors who want to take wagers on each race by gathering the information needed for the competition.
On the other hand, if you’re a more casual participant, then there are a number of different ways to settle on which horse to back. On-site bookmakers display the odds on their blackboards, which gives a good indication of which horses have a chance of winning. If you consider yourself a good judge of fitness, then going to the parade ring and picking the horse in the best condition could be the way to find your winner. Whichever way you choose to do it, having a horse to cheer on at the finish line makes the whole day a lot more exciting.
Onto the Fashion
The wonderful thing about Ladies Day is that it allows us to dress up in a way that in our ‘dress down’ culture, we simply don’t get to do very often. If you’re more reserved in your style then a simple black cocktail dress can look truly special with just the addition of a few carefully chosen accessories. An oversized hat – think Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s – a dainty clutch bag and some shoes (with heel stoppers for that turf) can take your outfit to another level of sophistication.
If you’re not afraid of a bit of the wow factor then there are plenty of looks through the ages to take inspiration from. The wonderful thing about this sort of fashion is that looks can be reinterpreted through the years. Bohemian florals of the 70s can bring a whimsical feel to your outfit and lend themselves to the addition of a straw hat, which is perfect for protecting you from the sun. If you prefer the loud colours of the 80s, then find yourself a stand-out fascinator and prepare to wow the crowds. The bottom line is to find a dress that you love and accessorise just a little bit more than you normally would. Everyone is there to, above all, have a fun day out at the races. The joy of the sport is what it’s all about.