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How to win the style stakes at the races.

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Next week we’ll see Britain’s most valuable race meet, attracting many of the world’s finest racehorses to compete for more than £5.5million in prize money. It is, of course, Royal Ascot.

More than 300 years in the making, it is a meet I always look forward to attending. However, whilst everyone around me is watching the races, drinking a glass of outrageously overpriced Pimms or Champagne and screaming at their horse to ‘RUN QUICKER!’ or ‘GO ON MY SON’ (paternity test still pending presumably). My attention is focused elsewhere.

You see I attend this Royal occasion not to watch these finely tuned beasts, ridden by dwarfs. If I wanted to do that, I’d watch ‘The Hobbit’ at home, from the comfort of my sofa, in my onesie, eating cheese puffs. No, I attend for one reason alone.

You see, Royal Ascot is as well known for its fashion as it is horse racing, and it is for this precise reason that I like to attend. Sure there are other meetings at different times of the year and at different race tracks but none live up to the theatre, pageantry and general extravagance of Royal Ascot.

Dress Code

Before you attend any meet, especially if it is your first time at a particular event it is always advisable to check what dress code is in place. Depending on where you go you will find that the guidelines can differ, they can even differ on the day you go, or even the enclosure you are looking to enjoy your day at. Some are a bit dressier, some a bit more casual, so to get the anxiety out of the way it’s best to check their own fashion advice on what is and isn’t allowed.

Ascot has its own set of rules and indeed if you are really posh, you may find your options can be somewhat limited by the style Gestapo patrolling the Royal Enclosure. For the rest of us, in the grandstand, and at most meets the dress code tends to be more relaxed. A suit and tie with a pair of smart shoes is the minimum requirement. Other than that you can be as creative as you want.

 

 The Suit:

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As I have already mentioned, the most likely thing you’ll wear to a meet is a suit. But a suit doesn’t have to be boring. A day at the races should be fun, and you don’t want to look like the same as you do every day in the office, so you can wear something which is a little bolder or brighter than your usual black suit you may wear at work.

You can try different colours such as plum, light or dark blues, cream or beige colours will also work well in the summer and give you more of a lighter look. You can look at something patterned, rather than a plain grey colour, try a modern check pattern in a mid grey colour.

 

Blazer and trouser combinations:

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Wearing a different combination of trouser to your suit jacket or blazer has become increasingly popular and is a trend I personally love, especially for the summer seasons. For me, it suggests a rebellious sense of individuality and confidence and can very well set you apart from the rest of the crowd.

For this to work you have to make sure that you are wearing trousers, a shirt and a jacket which compliment each other well, which is not always an easy task.

The easiest way to pull this look off is to stick to core colours. Dark blue or navy trousers should work with a grey jacket, to finish off with a light blue shirt. Equally, a pair of cream or light beige trousers worn with a navy jacket and white shirt will work.

Accessories:

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It is often the little things that make the biggest difference (just ask my ex-girlfriend). Deciding on what tie or pocket square to wear should stem from the jacket or blazer itself. Then you can use determining factors like colour and pattern to influence your decision on accessories.

The accessories should flatter and enhance the overall look, not overpower it. So if the suit has a strong pattern to it, a simple and elegant tie would be the safe option. Equally, a bolder tie can really bring to life a simple suit.

At a Summer meet, brighter and lighter colours are always advisable over darker and ideally, your tie should always be a darker shade than your shirt.

Make sure the width of your tie matches the width of the lapel on your jacket. A skinny tie can be completely dwarfed by a wide lapel and a wide tie on a skinny lapel can look just as bad. There is of course much more to consider when it comes to accessorising. Pocket squares, tie bars and lapel pins are all options when trying to inject a touch of individuality and personality to your look. Just make sure you don’t have too much going on in an outfit.

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