The rake

The modern voice of classic elegance

StyleMarch 2018

What to Wear to Cheltenham Festival

While there is no strict dress code at Cheltenham Festival, that doesn’t mean to say you should turn up in any old racing grab. Here’s what to wear to the event.

captionA winner at Cheltenham Festival wears a jeep coat with a fur lapel and belted waist, 1987.

The Cheltenham Festival is a highlight of the National Hunt calendar and racing enthusiasts travel from all over, notably Ireland, to attend the four-day event held every March. Unlike events such as Ascot or Epsom, there is no strict dress code for the event and the organisers suggest that clothing should reflect the inclement weather. Despite this, the event is stylishly attended – follow our rakish tips to be among the better-dressed:

1. Tweed is good. A hacking jacket with corduroy or moleskin trousers is the unofficial uniform of Cheltenham. A full tweed suit is smarter. The bolder and brighter, the better.

2. Wear a tie. Keep it subdued and textured if paired with a bold tweed and consider something in a wool or knitted silk, but wear a tie. Do not wear a tie-bar. You are not in the office or The Office.

3. Your windowpane or glen checked flannel suit, that you do not wear as often as you thought you would, is an elegant alternative to traditional country fabrics. Wear with a checked shirt and brown reverse calf shoes.

4. Do not wear a bright blue suit and avoid anyone wearing one, especially when teamed with a satin tie and cheap brown loafers. This is good advice for any social event.

5. You will mostly be standing outside in the cold, so do not neglect your footwear. Wear decent shoes such as a chukka boot or sturdy country brogues with merino wool over-the-calf socks.

6. Layer your tailoring with quality knitwear. A single-ply cashmere sleeveless cardigan will give warmth without additional bulk or weight. A Merino V-neck is warming and brings an additional texture and colour.

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7. A contrasting tailored wool doeskin waistcoat in red or yellow is suitably sporty, as is the traditional cream-based tattersall check. Keep the look sharp and avoid anything that might be worn by Mumford & Sons.

8. Wear a traditional overcoat. There are some great, modern outerwear pieces that will keep you warm, dry and comfortable using the latest advances in technical fabrics, but this isn’t the time for those. Sorry.

9. A fawn coloured covert was always the go-to coat for Cheltenham. The medium-weight hard-finished worsted would withstand a light shower and could be worn over your jacket or instead of one. It even has an equestrian heritage. But there is a slight problem: they are a bit Nigel Farage. And while we will not comment on Brexit, I think we can all agree that the former leader of UKIP is no Anthony Eden in the stylish politician stakes. A classic bonded cotton raincoat is ideal to keep off a shower and protect you from the rain. A tailored tweed field coat is an elegant alternative, and also has the benefit of having numerous pockets; useful for keeping your winnings separate from your Guinness money. With a traditional coat, you will need a scarf to protect your neck area, so pick something in a good size, preferably cashmere or silk. Tie it in an old-school knot and not the continental loop method.

10. A decent hat will keep off the rain and avoids the need to carry a cumbersome umbrella, thus freeing your hands to down another black velvet. The brown racing-felt or fedora is absolutely spot-on, but if this is not your style, consider a flat cap or an eight-piece bakerboy in a neutral tweed or cotton.

11. Cheltenham is not about the fashion, and it is important that you are not seen to be trying too hard. The advice from the organisers about dressing for the weather is sensible. As is ours regarding the guys in bright blue suits. Enjoy.

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Contributor

Christopher Modoo

Christopher Modoo is 'The Urbane Outfitter', with twenty five years of experience in classic menswear. He has conducted suit fittings in both Beckingham and Buckingham Palace. He hates short socks.

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