The Cheltenham Festival (12-15 March) is fast becoming more than just the Olympics of National Hunt racing — what to wear for the four-day meeting is also a hot topic these days. So whether you’re happy to embrace the traditional hues of brown and green tweed, or want to turn heads as you walk through the racecourse turnstiles, here are 10 key looks to help inspire you.
1. Tweed will never go out of fashion and while there has been a move towards more contemporary coloured tweed for both men and women, the perennially popular earthy tones of brown and green (such as these from alanpaine.co.uk) cut a real dash — and protect against the unpredictable March weather.
2. Velvet coats could well be the hottest trend at Cheltenham this year. The Guinea Motcomb coat (£485, guinealondon.com) has a classic cut but comes in a range of colours from dark navy to green and vibrant pink, making for a for a perfect Festival look when teamed with a classic hat and boots.
3. “The finest racing outfits are always stylish in an elegant, minimalistic way and if you like to wear something unique, think traditional with an opulent twist,” says Anna Butler, founder and designer behind the British heritage tweed label Butler Stewart (butlerstewart.co.uk)
4. Feminine country jackets are few and far between — it may be worth the investment to get a bespoke or tailor made wool, cashmere or tweed coat to ensure that it’s the perfect fit (Leonora, £900, browneanddaughters.com).
5. For the all-important headwear, ladies are embracing not only the traditional trilby and fedora (hicksandbrown.com), but in recent years they have been tending towards more formal occasion hats, such as perches and cocktail hats (edwinaibbotson.co.uk).
6. Don’t be afraid to incorporate a splash of colour to your outfit, especially on ladies day when the annual #ColourMeMarch campaign encourages racegoers to battle it out in the style stakes for some fantastic prizes. The Burghley Coat from Moloh (£645, Moloh.com) will complete a very smart silhouette.
7. A faux fur trim complements any outfit and the luxurious berry coloured Sherwood scarf from Toggi (£30, Toggi.com) features a discreet magnet popper and velvet ribbon fastener.
8. If you are struggling to find a jacket to complement your dress, think about a wrap, cape or poncho (£215, timothyfoxx.co.uk and stand 30 in the Shopping Marquee at Cheltenham) as an alternative to a coat or jacket . You still get the warmth factor but they’ll add an elegant layer that cascades over the body without ruining the line of your dress.
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9. For a more relaxed look, try Emma Brown Tweed’s take on the classic tweed cape (£175, emmabrowntweed.co.uk) which is lined in paisley or gamebird print lining and bound with contrasting cotton binding.
10. And finally… thanks to the likes of ITV Racing’s Francesca Cumani, who debuted one at last year’s Royal Ascot, and the Duchess of Cambridge pioneering the look, headbands or hatbands (velvet knot, £85, fernandalewismillinery.com) are likely to be all the rage round the paddock at this year’s Festival. They’re flattering, affordable and can be worn for any occasion. “They are on every milliner’s lookbook this season,” says stylist Sarah Kate Byrne.
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