How to dress stylishly for the races

Fashion and personal style take centre stage at the two most glamorous race meetings when the season hits

Fashion designer Andy explained how to suit up in style and comfort. Photo: Hong Kong Jockey Club

A day at the races is always a grand occasion marked by thrilling competition and a celebratory atmosphere. But two events in the Hong Kong racing season stand out as particularly fashionable and glamorous: the Gentlemen’s Bow Tie Raceday in October and the Sa Sa Ladies’ Purse Day in November.

Each year, thousands of racegoers enjoy these two events dressed in their finest suits and bow ties and most spectacular millineries. This year, Racing Club members had the added benefit of expert guidance in how to choose the perfect look for the occasion through different exclusive lifestyle programmes.

To dress in style, many people focus on following fashion trends. But with the aid of a stylist, members gained more insight into choosing the right outfit, colour and material for their unique body shape. Whether that shape is “apple”, “hourglass”, “inverted triangle”, “pear” or “rectangle”, you can still play up your best features by adopting three major tips shared by the stylist – balance it out, draw the eye and think about the colour.

Body shape is almost entirely based on bone structure, not weight. “Balance it out” means to use the outfit to balance the shoulders, bust, waist and hips. “Draw the eye” refers to using lines to focus the eye where you want it to go. Lines can help create curves, lengthen or emphasise your favourite body parts. People’s eyes are also drawn to patterns and light, bright colours more so than solid black or navy. To “think about the colour” is to keep this in mind when choosing separates. For example, for apple-shaped bodies it’s recommended to wear a brightly coloured top with dolman sleeves, a V-neck and peplum, which help to create a more defined waistline and draw attention to the shoulders.

Milliner Bess shared with Racing Club members the history of fascinators. Photo: Hong Kong Jockey Club

The event also revealed the importance of completing a formal look with eye-catching accessories, like a trendy necktie or patterned pocket square. Actually, neckties are an essential item for gentlemen on race days, especially in the past when thoroughbred racing was an expensive sport popularised by aristocrats and royalty.

Royal etiquette has also dictated the choice of attire for female racegoers. Royal protocol states that women must wear hats to all formal royal occasions as a result of an antiquated belief that it is improper for the upper class and royal women to show their hair in public. Wearing millineries therefore became the norm at thoroughbred horse racing, and a way for ladies to display their status and fashionability. Today, races are one of the rare occasions when it is still appropriate to wear a headpiece or fascinator – even just for fun – with attendees often engaging in an unspoken competition for the best style.

It’s through unique experiences like these that the Racing Club enables racing enthusiasts to explore the sport like never before – and look and feel their very best while doing so.

Also see: The season’s most sensational haute couture looks

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