Wardrobe Whispers at the Races!

29 July 2011

Huge respect to Edie Campbell [above in red] who won the Magnolia Cup at Glorious Goodwood yesterday. I have just come back after three days covering the traditional July race meeting for Channel 4 (not the horses, silly, the fashion). And it’s been an eye opener.

The climax of the week is Ladies Day, which was yesterday. And the most anticipated race is the ladies charity race run in aid of Great Ormond St Hospital.

sara cox goodwood

Most of the riders were quite handy with a horse. In fact, as my tweets will show, my money was on Emma Spencer my Channel 4 host who was a professional jockey before she turned to telly. DJ, Sara Cox, confident in her Issa silks [above] looked like another bookie’s favourite. But bravely representing the fashion contingent was Kate Reardon, the gutsy editor of Tatler looking pretty serious in Hermes and Edie, Burberry model and impossibly beautiful daughter of architect and ex fashion editor Sophie Hicks. I put my hand up now and admit, I never thought she could do it.

Maybe I shouldn’t have been so hasty. Having spent three days around the weighing room, I should have gathered that Edie’s willowy frame was a positive advantage. Jockeys are child sized. They are grown men who make models look strapping, if not over fed. But at twice the height of your standard flat racer, Edie was at a definite disadvantage on the course.

From one bloodstock dealer at the Goodwood Ball the night before the race, I heard of a successful jockey who eats no more than one piece of steamed chicken, a day.  Frankie Dettori is smaller than my 13 year old son.  Willie Carson, who was a local legend in my childhood, is a middle aged oompa loompa.

At the ball the night before, the girls were staying well away from the booze and  admitted they were frightened to death. Race horses, in real life, are nothing like they look on the TV. They are terrifying things. (They are also gorgeous by the way…….groomed to perfection, a stylist’s fantasy). They are way bigger, way faster.  And skittish! You might as well be strapping a rocket between your legs and trying to aim it in straight line down a field to the finish.  I have belts bigger than the bridle and the saddle is no more than a strap with stirrups.

So when our fashion heroine took a commanding early lead and romped home to victory, I could have burst with pride. This is surely one race I reckon the fashion team can make its own. A big shout out to Stella Mc Cartney, Jodie Kidd, Amanda Harlech and Luella Bartley for next year. Come on girls! We can take this thing!

Well…..less of the ‘we’. One of you can.


Naomie Harris, Sunday Girl, Courtney Love

Roland Mouret scored big time with some perfectly pitched dresses in neutral silk and jersey. Another winner was MaxMara, whose, soft tailoring in understated neutrals, was a big hit with the ladies in the owner’s enclosure. I saw some fantastic Etro paisleys and some inspired styling of Christopher Kane galaxy print under a mannish white tuxedo.  You don’t have to wear a hat at Goodwood. But it seems we can’t resist, given half the chance. Stephen Jones and Philip Treacy had clearly been working overtime. Men at Goodwood traditionally wear panamas and there were lots of ladies versions of those and Cozmo Jenks’ riff on the classic that looked enviably chic.

But for every great outfit there is half a dozen that defy logic. If we understand that a day at the races is essentially a day in a field with horses then can I draw some guidelines. From three days experience, I’d say what works is:

-       Neutral colours; cream, beige, white.

-       Tonal and jewel colours: sage, olive, purple, ruby.

-       Dull metallic: subtle silvers and old golds.

-       Brights are fine if they are colours you find in nature, not the ones made in a laboratory: orange, yellow, green, cobalt

-       Keep fabrics natural too: cotton, linen, silk, chiffon. I saw some beautiful white cotton lace dresses as well as some sweaty looking versions in synthetic black.

-       Black can work if it’s linen or cotton and looks brilliant if it’s contrasted with white or highlighted with a trim of bright colour and shows some skin. But there were more misses than hits with black, so I’d avoid it.

-       Wedges or flat shoes (unless you can walk for hours on the balls of your feet to stop your heels sinking in grass).

What does NOT work are;

-       Stretch satin

-       Sequins

-       Fringing

-       Studs

-       Dresses made for night clubs and cocktail bars

-       Pole dancers shoes with hidden platform and ski scraper heels

-       Fake hair, nail extensions and false eyelashes with glitter on them.

-       Body con

-       Leather dresses

-       Fishnet

-       Animal print (you’ve got to think English country, NOT safari)

And I am calling time on fascinators, French manicured toes and maxi dresses with massive cleavage. I’ve seen enough boobs at Goodwood to last me a lifetime. Put them away girls!

- Paula Reed


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