The crowd cheered as the muscular stallion and his eventer strode gracefully into the racecourse…who knew Zara Phillips and Mike Tindall would cause such a stir. They were not the only things to create photographic attention either. From fascinators to terrify-ers, it was a great day with a varied costume. Next year, Ladies Day at Cheltenham should be re-named Animal Day however, because most women spend the entire time watching horses, listening to the cat-calls of the fans whilst wearing birds on their heads. As a female originally purely in it for the fashion, it was difficult to stay impartial to the racing and I ended up having a few cheeky punts. £27.50 was won on Finian’s Rainbow in The Queen Mother’s race – enough to buy a new bird for my head you shout? No, for I had already bet more than this on previous races and am now £5 down. All in the fun of it I suppose!
After losing my lunch money for the next week, winning it back and then spending it on Champagne I decided it was time to turn my head towards the fashion at the Festival. I have come up with a few conclusions – you may like them, you may not. I believe Cheltenham Ladies Day is the top of the Ladies Day’s around the country (in accordance with the class and wealth of the area) and therefore dresses and skirts above the knee should be banned. Anything skin tight also. Yesterday was a day where us ladies could legitimately dress up like a princess (bravo to those of you ladies channelling Kate Middleton in shifts and dress coats) and not be told by partners, parents or jockeys that we are overdressed or look a bit OTT. My friend and I took this opportunity like one takes a horse by the reins. Floor sweeping maxi dresses – myself in a purple and white floral number from Nordstrom and my friend in a layered coral chiffon piece from Cache (both American stores) – with a black Marc Jacobs blazer for me, a faux fur coat for her and both of us in heels that will no doubt cause us to be in chiropractors offices from the age of 30 onwards. Just think, if you have to question whether or not this is that dress that you wore out clubbing that time your friend made you drink absinthe and you started telling everyone you were Cameron Diaz’s body double…don’t wear it. Embrace your femininity, grab yourself a 50s floral printed housewife dress and don a pheasant on your barnet!
I must say that although some people left me wanting more….more fabric that is…there was a gaggle of glamorous girls that left a trail of devastation behind them that even Wishful Thinking failed to achieve. Purple, turquoise, coral and monochrome ruled the day showing up in everything from dresses to outerwear to headpieces. Note to everyone: please do not wear top to toe of one colour – tights, shoes, skirt, top, coat, bag and headpiece all in the same colour (unless it is black and even then) is TOO much. The women that wore these colours best mixed them up with block coloured dresses, accessories or outerwear of varying designs and palettes. My absolute favourite ensemble of the day was a Dior New Look length (mid-calf) winter white chiffon dress with large skirt worn underneath a black chintz/dull satin buttoned up dress-coat that flowed over the top of the full skirt and stopped just below the hips where the white carried on; the most beautiful 50s shape was created. This lady had done her hair in a vintage side swept chignon and wore a gorgeous tilted hat with feathers. All in all vintage glamour at its finest. The female that won the Best Dressed competition also exuded vintage elegance wearing a dark cherry coloured felt sailor type hat worn on an angle with a side swept up-do, which contrasted her cream dress and off-white fur coat.
If vintage isn’t your thing, there were a host of on trend outfits, with animal print dresses worn with contrasting accessories and a gorgeous pair of peep-toe, leopard print platforms that won the Best Accessory title. Monochrome striped dresses, highly embellished numbers, gold/silver coats and chunky black footwear all made it into the mix, showing that many women wanted to be the front runner of the fashion stakes. For those with old money or a Topshop store card, real and faux fur was seen paired with every outfit as far as the eye could see; jackets, stoles, bags, earmuffs, trims and hats all caused yesterday to resemble winter time in Russia. Mix in a few diamonds and it was a winter time in Russia, in a Bond film.
For those of you with more classic tastes, tweed was the Barry Geraghty of fabrics – always a winner. My style crush was on a couple who had co-ordinated their ensembles wearing the exact same check tweed in different coloured/different length coats. There is really no need to separate the Club, Tattersall and Best Mate stands with barriers (which remind me of the Titanic, because you can only mingle with your class or lower – at least a few woman were wearing head pieces big enough to float on if we sunk though) because all the security staff need to do is look at the outfit worn: those in Club were in tweeds and flat Ralph Lauren looking brown knee boots, Tattersall were in chic dresses from Karen Millen, Best Mate gentlemen were in jeans and the Guinness village…well quite a few men were in mother-of-the-bride hats…need I say more.
Accessories of the day were a triumph – long sharp feathers, big colourful bows, crystals and even corsages made out of crisp packets (Livia Firth would have been proud) were seen and that was all just in the hair. Shiny clutches, quilted Chanel bags and more Mulberry Bayswaters than even I could dream of were used to keep hold of all those winnings – or in my case, losing betting slips. Black chunky heels were the main choice for the ladies, but some gorgeous heeled brogues, patent courts and ballerina flats in a host of colours – matching the bag, headpiece and backed horse of course – were also worn. All in all a good show by the ladies, but there were a lot of tired hooves after the end of a long day in heels.
As a day that is still dominated by 90% males, it would be in bad taste to not mention some of the gentlemen’s attire. Tweeds, cords and brogues as always top my list. Some gorgeous maroons, mustards and khaki colours were seen underneath enough flat-caps to cause any farmers within a 10 mile radius to have a heart-attack. One man also appeared to have made a flat-cap out of many other flat-caps: interesting. Highlight of the day was proof that men still do wear the trousers in the relationship – as we saw one man lifting his no doubt £500 pair of maroon cords so they would not get muddy; in all likelihood doing this so his wife wouldn’t shout at him. You guys may still wear the trousers but we are the ones who have to wash them.
If all else fails, next year I’ll just wear a yellow scarf and drink 15 pints of Guinness– if you can’t beat them…