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What to wear to the races

Stylist Martha Ward at Royal Ascot wearing a dress by Self Portrait 

(Photo:JadeProm)It’s that time of year already: the spring racing season kicks off with the Cheltenham Festival this week and then they’re off, with Grand National at Aintree, the Epsom Derby and Royal Ascot cantering behind in the calendar.

Attending a race meeting in Blighty throws up the all too familiar conundrums of what to wear to a wedding when there’s no predicting what the weather will hold. Do treat the event like dressing for a wedding (read: formal but playful) with the added bonus that yes, you can wear white without running the fear of upstaging anyone.

It’s worth researching if your event has a specific dress code (for Royal Ascot goers wanting to access to Royal Enclosure, sheer is out and hats must be four inches wide). Most race meets don’t, but it’s always worth checking. As stylist Martha Ward advises: “It’s only once a year and it must be fun and not a hindrance. So go for a longer hemline and only consider a dress with covered shoulders to avoid any queries on strap width. It’s not worth it. Think elegant and pretty. Formalwear can befun!”

With a little help from the experts, here’s our guide to creating a winning wardrobe for a day at the races.

Do invest in a covetable cover-up

If a heatwave isn’t on the cards, a coat which has the potential to take you through a whole calendar of sociable summer events is certainly worth the investment. Designer Katherine Hooker, who has dressed the Duchess of Cambridge, says her clients usually ask for “tailored, smart and warm coats. They don’t go for over-coats, they prefer a more elegant, tailored look.” Her signature styles are fitted under the arm and around the waist, “giving the person a lovely silhouette.”

Ward says: “Think light and pretty (even if it’s raining) and don’t be seduced by a heavy overcoat – they’re too bulky and will ruin the look of a dress. Besides, it never rains all day and you can remain under cover if you desire.”

We’re fans of high street retailer COS’s pastel overcoats, which can lift even the plainest of outfits to new highs.See more at:cheap bridesmaid dresses uk

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