Racing season is fast approaching, but it’s not all about the horses and winning big on bets.
It’s a celebration that’s steeped in tradition, which has its own long-standing fashion etiquette and code.
Whether you’re going to the races themselves or celebrating at an office party, there are certain trends, colours and patterns that you should know about, and some you should steer clear of.
With that in mind, we asked Jon Michail of corporate style and branding consultancy Image Group International for his fashion advice this racing season.
Here’s what he had to say about men’s and women’s trends and tips to make sure you’re one of the best dressed on the field, and in the office.
Spring is a season where you can start to wear bolder colours after the subdued tones of winter.
“There’s going to be a lot of power tones like shades of the blues, the grays, the indigos,” says Michail.
“And, of course, you can take that into the pink and watermelon, especially for summer colours and even for men, so a lot of these colours are very strong.
“Then you’ve got with the powers, you’ve got also some of the more deep colour greens, the sages, oats, terracottas and so on, again, are colours that sort of even the look out,” he says.
You can start to step out in lighter, more breathable fabrics for racing season. For women, luxurious, flowing fabrics will keep you cool and comfortable all day.
“Linen, of course, is a hot fabric for racing season. It’s not a fabric that ever goes out of fashion, it’s like saying wool’s out of fashion. It just doesn’t happen,” Michail says.
“The shapes are basically, again if we’re talking about men’s jackets and so on, a lot of softer constructions in fabrics and manufacturing. You know, half lined, unlined, soft contouring and drape.
“And a lot of the fabrics are super fine wool, linen and cotton.
“For the women, romance is in. You know, romantic style fabrics, chiffons and from a silk perspective anyway, anything that’s flowy. That would work beautifully, especially for the races,” he says.
Michail says patterns will be a big trend for people to show their individuality for racing season, and guys shouldn’t be scared to wear floral prints that would normally be reserved for women.
“We’ve got all sorts of patterns coming in… florals and all types of different checks, from mini checks to large checks,” Michail says.
“Big plaids. What’s important about all of that, especially when patterns come in and if you’re talking about personal branding, patterns can actually destroy your personal brand if they’re not done properly, because they communicate confusing messages. It creates cognitive dissonance.
“What you’ll also see though, a big trend, is pattern clash and that’s been happening for a while now, you know with retro and vintage and so on,” he says.
“Florals have come in for guys — not so much jackets or pants, but definitely for shirts. Again, it’s a great crispy warm weather look, but you’ve got to watch how you coordinate that.
“If you see on the catwalk, they’ve also shown florals with ties and then wearing a tie with a floral. That never works,” he says.
Just as florals are a big trend for men, they are too for women.
But Michail says you need to watch the size and proportion of the floral, and that you don’t want to be swamped by a big print if you are petite.
“If you put big florals on a petite woman, the florals will be speaking louder than her,” Michail says.
“That is incongruent for the brain. So, it’s about understanding proportion and making sure everything is sort of in balance.
“And that’s where a good eye comes in and an understanding of the breakups of the body shape.
“Proportion is key,” he says.
Accessories are key to finishing off an outfit, and can make or break your look.
“This is important, again if we’re talking about blokes here, if you don’t get the shoes right. As an example… if you have terrible shoes and you’ve just destroyed the whole outfit,” says Michail.
“Women will judge men quicker on shoes than men on men.
“What we say is invest well in shoes, not only from a quality point of view, but also for your comfort, considering you’re on your feet all day.
“The other important accessory there is the pocket square. That is 100% on, in a silk or a linen. For blokes, it’s a great opportunity to show a little bit of their creative spirit, because it’s just a little bit of spice of colour.
“We spoke last year about the no-sock look, and we said it’s a trend. Well, it will last another summer. And that’s virtually it.
“If you’re going to wear it, just make sure that you’re wearing it with the right shoe and the right outfit.
“Generally, the right shoe is a loafer without laces,” he says.
Hats and fascinators
Similarly to prints, Michail says petite women need to consider proportion when it comes to hats and fascinators, and sometimes bigger really is better.
“Body shapes, specifically for me, doesn’t matter what size you are — you can look gorgeous, beautiful, stunning — it’s not the body shape that’s the problem here, it’s what you put on it.
“So, for instance, with hats and fascinators and sizes of hats, sometimes what’s more important from my perspective is not really small or big hats, but it’s really what works for that person.
“So, let’s say a bigger hat might work even if it’s not on-trend, on the right woman and then the small hat might not work on her particularly. The bigger hat might look better.
“That’s just her face shape and body shape.
“So, again I’m going to put it down to the individual. They both work. Generally, for me, it’s really on the individual, because it’s a matter of shape and form,” he says.
There are some trends that Michail warns to steer clear of. They include bold statements in regards to bare skin, and wearings shoes that may be too casual.
“A big trend is the bare chest look in the suit, and beach sandals with suits,” he says.
“Psychologically it looks weak. And that sandals with suit look, again, it’ll be a trend for a moment and then it’s gone again.”
He also says clashing colours and patterns is best left to weekend fashion, and isn’t appropriate on the trackside or in the office.
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