Wednesday 15 June 2011

Hats, history and racing fashion

Styles have changed dramatically over the past 300 years, but the tradition of the Royal Ascot race meeting has remained an annual fixture of the summer social season. The event has become an occasion for racegoers from all over the world to indulge in a little English eccentricity – wearing quirky hats, unique accessories and curiously original clothing.

I’m not sure whether Royal Ascot has always been as much about the fashion as the horse racing, but photographic evidence from past decades shows that dressing up has certainly been a major part of proceedings.

In celebration of the 300th Anniversary of Royal Ascot, the display of vintage photographs of royals and celebrities at the event includes this stylish shot of Sophia Loren in a wonderfully wide brimmed hat - along with pictures of some of the more curious clothing, like these over-the-top outfits from the ‘swinging sixties’:

Nowadays with catwalk shows, a Fashion Bar and live televised fashion commentary, Royal Ascot has become a firm favourite with fashionistas and designers alike.

Like most women, I'm not so much interested in the racing as the parade of hats, handbags and amazing attire on show. Apart from the official dress code, the way people choose to ‘dress up’ is a matter of personal taste... On the first day, yesterday, I noticed that flowers were very much in fashion.

I wore Vivienne Westwood with a recycled hat, accessorized with a floral hairslide, found in a drawer just before I left. I jazzed up my look with quirky '70s style snakeskin shoes, a vintage basket bag and a tasseled natural stone necklace from ShopCurious – worn sideways, of course.

Some ladies opted for the retro look – from 1930s floaty tea dress to 1950s prom style.

Others were more fashion forward, like Vivienne Westwood's head of couture, in a futuristic flying saucer hat by Philip Treacy – and a rather arty looking Aussie visitor.

One lady definitely stood out from the crowd in a pearl encrusted, rose-adorned Marie Antoinette style wig. A simple, cat-eared hat by Stephen Jones was also rather different from the mainstream.

Men are able to express their individuality at Royal Ascot too. Photographer, Francis Mander, arrived looking as though he was ready for a spot of farming. And one chap, wearing a pith helmet, had obviously got on the wrong ‘plane.

Some wore exotic headgear and brightly coloured waistcoats.

And David Shilling’s Royal Ascot birthday tribute topper was madly marvellous.

From old to new, there were some blinging accessories on show as well - from rhinestone bejewelled antique watches to crystal covered mobile 'phones.

Best of all, it was a lovely sunny day, and everyone seemed to be smiling…

Are you?


Annie Wright said...

Fabulous, just fabulous!
PS Love the cat hat!!!

Jan said...

Love your outfit.
Glad you got lucky with
the weather!

LenoreNeverM♡re said...

I'd love to be there...people watching is still my favorite~hah!
You look gorgeoussss...

Jill said...

That looks like such fun!