It’s hard to believe that I’ve lived in the UK for 15 years now and not once have I been to the races. This is a highlight of the season for many men and women. Dresses are bought months in advance and morning suits hang in the closets waiting for the big day to arrive. And the hats, oh the hats! Truly, this is a day that’s just as much a celebration of diverse tastes in fashion as it is about horse racing. So, when the invitation for the Investec Derby Ladies Day came in, I knew it was time to finally say yes to the main event, grab a great dress and head over for a day out of London.
I’ll say first and foremost that I had no idea what to expect. Of course I’ve seen pictures, every season, of such events. But never a personal experience was had, until now. We were picked up by a rather luxurious Jaguar with the most delightful gentleman behind the wheel. He drove us to Epsom Downs and as we arrived I was greeted by a rainbow of fascinators and ornate adornments of the head (not even sure you could call some of them simply “hats”… it wouldn’t be grand enough). Women here make an effort for the day out. Sure dresses are important, but ladies, it’s about the dress and hat combination. And here’s where I have to say I cheated a little bit, just a tad. As I’m already 6’2, I’m not one to wear hats that give me an extra three to seven inches of attention. So, I did the next best thing, I went for some serious statement earrings. Racing gods, forgive me!
But, as we’re talking about fashions, let’s start there. At the Investec Derby Ladies Day, there were some very prevalent themes in the style arena. We’ve mentioned hats, that’s a given. However, when it came to dresses, it did seem that the general public was split right down in the middle in favoring either florals or stripes, or otherwise just went for solid pieces, and wearing them all with pride. Here’s a quick look:
Can we just talk about how fabulous the above ensemble is? From head to toe, serious perfection!
And here’s what I wore:
I wore a striped dress, silver sandals, bauble earrings and an oversized tote (to carry all the cameras).
And here’s what I learned. If you aren’t in a hospitality suite, you have to be sensible with shoes. I saw more women struggling with heels in the grass than could be conceivably comfortable. Don’t make this mistake, or if you absolutely must wear the heels, look into those cool plastic bottoms that keep them from sinking into the wet grass. And yes, it was wet. Half way through our day the heavens opened up. That is why, dear reader, I am sad to report there are not more pictures. This is what comes from being a “first timer.” No umbrellas were brought with us and it was impossible to get inside due to lack of space when the rain was coming at us from all angles. Now, this might ruin the day for some. However, as the rains came and we stood watching the horses round the corner to the finish line, there was so much excitement that we could have been standing in a snowstorm and would still be out there cheering in our finest. The rain kept the die-hards outside and we banded together.
Of course at this point, I closely resembled a sailor come straight from a stormy sea. So what’s a girl to do? Well, just behind the Queen’s Stand there were food trucks galore. We bought our burgers and fries and huddled under shelter with Pimms in hand and laughter in our bellies. This is why you go to events with good friends. No matter the circumstances, you find fun in every eventuality.
The skies cleared, people returned to the lawns and slowly the crowds started to exit the venue. Our race day had come to an end. We had braved the bars (a rather intense five people deep situation at every try), we had survived the rain, we had parted with a little bit of cash with bad bets and we had only one incident with a burger hitting the ground due to slippery hands. All in, it was a day filled with tremendous memories and some serious exposure to the most unexpected fashions.
Would I do it again? You can bet on it. But next year I’m learning from this years mistakes. I’m bringing more people (as this is strength in numbers), I’m bringing blankets and umbrellas for the lawn and I’m ordering champagne ahead of time! I’m also spending the next year looking into hat and dress combos that will allow me to seriously dress to impress. I’m armed and ready. Bring on Investec Derby 2018.
Now before we officially say goodbye, a few more pics of the Investec Derby Ladies Day in action…
Thank you, Investec, for being such gracious hosts for FFG and friends on the day.