The Looks We’ll See At The Cheltenham Festival


For those who enjoy trend-spotting and general observation at fashion events, professional horse racing can offer some unique opportunities. There are plenty of worldwide sporting events that demand a certain sense of style among their spectators. For example, many will dress up for big grand prix races while tennis tournaments like Wimbledon are famous for attracting stylish fans. But none of these events compares, from a fashion perspective, to the world’s greatest horse races. And the Cheltenham Festival just west of London is the first major one we’ll see in 2015.

Set to get started on March 10 and last for its traditional four days of racing, the Cheltenham Festival is already exciting fans of the sport all over the world. Entries have been made for the headline races of the festival, and Betfair’s tipsters and race analysts are thoroughly on the case. Early odds are in place, and you can view a wide range of Cheltenham tips here, with more analysis to come in the next two months as the festival grows ever closer. While the competition will demand the bulk of attention this far in advance, many fans fortunate enough to attend the races are also planning their outfits for what is always a stylish occasion.

For those whose interest in horse racing festivals is more about the fashion than the races themselves, here’s a preview of some of the looks we should see at Cheltenham this March.

It begins with the big hats, of course, and it’s foolish to point to any other feature as being more closely linked to a horse racing event! Horse races are always associated with oversized and unique hats with intricate designs. Check out this My Daily slideshow of some of the best hats seen at Cheltenham in 2013 for an idea of what you’ll see this year.

Speaking of hats, Cheltenham can sometimes be unique among horse races in that its selection of “derby hats” can include a great deal of fur. Fur accessories (scarves, coats) and heavy outerwear (tweed and wool coats) are sometimes spotted in abundance at the Cheltenham Festival because of the cooler temperatures. The UK’s Met Office actually has a Cheltenham weather alert page specifically for this reason. If it looks as if things will stay chilly, expect some bulkier looks.

Next, get ready for accessories galore. The primary focus in horse racing fashion may be on the hats and outfits, but Cheltenham has been packed with stylish accessories over the years as well, perhaps in part because the cold weather can allow for additional options. But from worn pieces like jewelry and watches, to carried accessories like handbags and umbrellas, the folks at Cheltenham tend to overdo things somewhat. And it’s done in a way that makes it fun for the rest of us to observe and note particularly appealing pieces.

Finally, you’ll also see plenty of bright and beautiful dresses. Talking of the weather and the need for fur pieces can make Cheltenham seem somewhat drab. The bottom line, though, is that this is still a major horse race, which means its spectators want to show up in colorful fashion! Irish Times recently pointed to powder blue and hot pink as some of its key trends to wear in the spring of 2015. It’s likely many attending the Cheltenham Festival will be well aware of the coming popular period for such colors, so there should be plenty of blues, pinks, and other bright hues.

These are the trends and looks we can predict for this early cluster of horse races. It’s also worth mentioning that perhaps the defining feature of horse race fashion (beyond big hats) is inventiveness. Spectators can be full of surprises, so above all else expect to see some wild and creative looks!

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