Home FASHION STREET STYLE Hats at the races – a long-standing tradition

Hats at the races – a long-standing tradition

Hats have always been 'de rigueur' at the races
Hats have always been 'de rigueur' at the races

There are few occasions in today’s dress-down world where a hat is called for, but one place you can always guarantee a hat or fascinator being completely in keeping is at the races. The style of hats may change each season, but there’s never a time when headpieces are left out of the picture entirely.

Hats have always been 'de rigueur' at the races
Hats have always been ‘de rigueur’ at the races

Why hats for the races?

Racing is often referred to as the sport of kings, and by tradition it’s always been a sport for the wealthy. After all, owning, stabling and looking after horses, as well as paying trainers and jockeys is an expensive business. So, those people connected with racing wanted to show everyone else at the race course their level of prestige and place in society, and one way to do that was through fashion – and therefore hats.

Today, racing welcomes larger segments of the population, regardless of their social status and wealth. And a day out at the races has become something that all kinds of people do, whether or not they have a personal connection to racing. It’s a fun day out, especially for a group event such as a hen or stag do, or just a gathering for a bunch of friends. Part of the fun is dressing the part and paying a nod to traditions such as the ladies wearing hats. Then, of course, there’s the betting on the races you’re watching. This is made even easier thanks to mobile betting apps which means you can bet on your phone, even making adjustments to your bets as the race takes place in front of your eyes. With horse racing, as in any form of sports betting, odds are changing by the second and if you want to get a bet on quickly the mobile is the best device to do it on.

How to choose a hat

A big brim is a sensible choice if it's going to be a scorcher of a day
A big brim is a sensible choice if it’s going to be a scorcher of a day

Fortunately, in today’s forgiving times, the choice of hat is very much down to the individual. You don’t need to conform to what everyone else is wearing. Trends are always there for a reason though. This season, head jewellery is in vogue, where it’s almost a question of wearing a necklace on your head. There’s also been a return to structured hats, with veiling. If you want something that’s hat-like without actually being a hat, then a fascinator is a great hybrid option. It perches on your head, and is held in place with hairpins, but you don’t feel encumbered by it as you might do when wearing a big straw boater or close-fitting pill-box hat.

A lot of hat choice depends on the weather, of course. Wide-brimmed hats are great for keeping the sun off, but on a windy day, it’s probably best to choose headwear that can be safely secured, so you don’t spend all day worrying about it staying on.

If you’ve not got a bottomless hat budget, it’s probably best to choose a timeless hat that you can wear with a number of outfits. If you have dark hair choose a lighter colour for your hat, otherwise there’s a danger of it being ‘lost’.

In between race days, follow milliners’ advice and store hats in boxes, turned on the crown with tissue paper supporting any of the brim. Also, make sure your hat-box is protected from moths – they do like eating hats!


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