Main Image Credit:
For those socialites among us, there's seldom a season more exciting than summer horse racing. But between rows of topsy-turvy fascinators and explosive summer frocks, choosing the right look to match the right event, and, above all, the right hairdo, can be tough for both the first-time race-goer, and the seasoned racing patron stuck for inspiration.
The racing scene is known as the place to dress up to the nines in your best attire, and embrace grandeur in your hair and fashion choices. They're the utmost arena for the hautest-of-haute couture, tied up into a smart style you'll be hard-pressed to find elsewhere. But what to wear, and how to style yourself up for rubbing shoulders with the fashion elite? Here at The Chapel we're not one to shy away from a styling challenge, so here's some ideas on how to bring out your inner race day splendour.
Which came first: the hair or the dress?
Your hair and dress are inseparable sides of the same coin: your complete look, and individual style. And when mingling with a crowd as style and fashion forward, being able to strike an impression is worth its weight in Philip Treacy hats.
If your dress is bold and detailed, then going for a more subtle hairstyle is probably the right route for you. Remember, you want to showcase your dress as well, and not look too overwhelming. If you have a low-cut or backless dress, you can wear your hair up, along with a statement, yet tasteful necklace. The backless dress can also be complemented by a half-up, half-down hairstyle or fully down.
With the low pony tail and plaited front combo on trend this summer, it's the perfect style to wear with any hat or fascinator at the races. And if you chose to go for the 'hair down' look, keep it swept off your face with a subtle fish tail plait, the ideal hairstyle to compliment any dress (within the Ascot guidelines, of course!).
With floral and pastel designs at the forefront of spring/summer fashion trends, these patterns are perfect for the races: mixing and matching prints for these elite events is a great way to make the High Street style your own. As well as floral designs and pastel colours, the runways are also loving the classic head-to-toe bridal white, perfectly elegant & seasonal to don at this year's races.
Face, shape, and fascinator
The way to style or snip your hair for the day depends not just on the colour of your dress, but on the shape of your face, and, of course, the hat or fascinator you're going to nestle atop it! Do you have a heart-shaped face (that is, if your face is as long as it is wide, or slightly longer than it is wide, with a 'v' shaped hairline)? Try out a long, wispy side fringe, with soft waves that fall between the jawline and shoulder.
What about if you're square-shaped (if your face is as long as it is wide, or slightly longer than it is wide, you have a square jawline, and your hairline looks wide when your hair is pulled back)? Waves and curls will be your best bet: they'll have you looking strong and elegant, whilst keeping things soft around your face. And if you're considering headwear (generally a requirement for Royal Ascot), go for a rounded hat with soft trim.
If your face is round (your face is as long as it is wide, with a round hairline), you're best off rocking a lob: which is this season's hottest new trend (and one we personally cannot get enough of). You should also consider wearing an angular hat or fascinator that cuts across your face.
The right races
There's no two ways about it: Royal Ascot is the place to be spotted wearing your Sunday best. Granted, of course, that on said Sunday you're dripping with sartorial elegance. The Ascot is known for its ties to tradition, and values styles off-field just as much, if not more, than the horses galloping across it. But, depending on the area you're in, dress code may differ slightly.
The Royal Enclosure is by far the place to be spotted with the crème-de-la-crème of racegoers. You'll need to wear formal daywear, which includes dresses and skirts of modest length, with strapless, off-the-shoulder, halter neck, and spaghetti straps not permitted. In here, you aren't allowed to wear a fascinator, but are encouraged to wear a hat, or an acceptable headpiece. You'll need to be ultra-smart and chic: try a slick low ponytail, or style some softly tousled waves to fall lightly around your face and shoulders. Depending of course on your choice of hat, leaving your hair down but putting some product in it to give it a bit of bounce won't go astray, either. For those in the Grandstand or Silver Ring, codes are less strict, but with the same emphasis on dressing smart: no strapless, sheer strap dresses or tops are allowed in the Grandstand, though.
But what to do for those that want more than one carnival a year to exude racing-chic? Not to fear: the Moet and Chandon July Festival at Newmarket Racecourse is a winner, as is the King George Weekend at Ascot. Both are slightly less strict in their dress requirements, but hinge on the same basic rules: smart, elegant, well-cut, haute couture.
Whether you've got your dress sorted or not, chatting to a professional stylist is a sure-fire way to drum up the inspiration you need to nail your raceday look.