Why wear hats to horse races? The Royal Ascot Races, the Kentucky Derby, the Del Mar Races and, of course, The Melbourne Cup are all known as much for their hat and fashion stakes as for the racing itself. Where did the tradition come from?
The simple answer is that all these races, and many more throughout the world, copy the traditions of the Royal Ascot Races which started in the 18th century. Back then, hats were worn by everyone everywhere. Only the poor didn’t wear them, and flamboyant and beautifully decorated hats were a status symbol. From the beginning fine millinery and elaborate couture were a key part of the Ascot dress code.
In the early 1900s, horse racing was the sport of the elite and affluent, and race-goers showcased their wealth and status through couture fashion. The Prince Regent of the time and his friend Beau Brummell said that respectable and elegant men must wear waisted black coats and white cravats with pantaloons when attending the races. Even when hats lost their popularity as normal day wear, wearing hats at the races gave spectators the chance to show off individuality and personal style.
The tradition has stuck, and perhaps part of the reason is that hats have the added benefit of keeping the sun out of your eyes—some hats anyway. Another reason may be the competitions. This is the 2014 winner. Areal Au
The punters website tells us what the judges will be looking for when it comes to the Myer Fashions on the Field competition for the 2015 Melbourne Cup Carnival:
- Style– your dress needs to meet the style standards expected of entrants in a leading fashion competition – outdated styles will not impress!
- Originality– meaning your dress offers something new and unseen in the competition’s history and has hopefully anticipated – or better yet SET – the latest trend!
- Attention to detail– this alludes to the importance of every single detail from head to toe
- Adherence to the dress code– to stand any chance of winning your outfit must conform to the dress code and fashion brief for the given day of the Carnival (yes, the three main days each have a theme!)
I won’t be at the Melbourne cup, but I will be wearing a hat on the day. Will you?
If you want something unique take a look at my range.
Thanks to the following website for their information. http://www.mccarthyandstone.co.uk/news-and-views/blog-posts/alexa-moore/history-of-the-ascot-hat/