With so many great races coming up- here are some of my dress picks for the upcoming racedays:
Life can throw you curveballs whether its a work function or an impromptu trip with the gals. A day at the races can be planned for over a year, like the bucket list trip to the Kentucky Derby or you can just have a couple days notice before taking off to a raceday this upcoming Saturday!
That is the case for me this weekend at Santa Anita Park. I will be taking off in just two days (I’m writing this on Wednesday ) for the Santa Anita Derby on Saturday.
So what’s a girl to do?? Well…do what we do best. SCRAMBLE!
I already did some ‘online window shopping’ yesterday but it is hard for me to drop $300 on a dress that I had 5 minutes to decide on. I decided to close the browser window, save on the overnight shipping, and shop my own closet.
I know we always say “I have nothing to wear” while standing in a closet full of clothes. I am not here to tell you that feeling isn’t justified- I have it all the time! However, when you have to scramble, you’ve got to shake that phrase off your shoulders and start digging deep.
I’ve decided to go with option number 3! I remembered that I purchased a dress for my Romantic Valentine’s Day with my beau and I haven’t worn it to the races or really anywhere else. It is a bright red (very FATR) off the shoulder mid sleeve number from one of my favorite brands Keepsake.
Be sure to check the weather! Especially during the Spring months, you never know if you are going to get an 80 degree day or a 50 degree windy disaster. I’m currently looking at 65 degrees this weekend in California which fits my dress perfectly.
Now for the hat, this is the part that usually makes people nervous. You have a few different options:
I am working on getting a quick piece that I’m really excited about wearing…if I can’t swing that, I have a fascinator I can wear that I’ve worn before. Fashionable gals recycle don’t ya know?!
Here’s a couple last minute outfits I put together before:
Last minute trip to California last year:
Purchased dress on Asos (2 day shipping to my hotel-risky, I know). Paired with a go-to pair of Steve Madden heels I already had and a simple black boater. It wasn’t a big stakes day so this was a good outfit for the occasion.
Pieced this one together from my closet using a blouse borrowed from a girlfriend (from Nasty Gal) and a Banana Republic Skirt that I frequent to work. Paired with a fascinator I had designed by Sophie Hunter and a pair of blush pink heels that I purchased for Oaks last year. The outfit worked for a last minute raceday piece and really had a nice vintage/classic feel to it!
One of the best things about working in the horse racing world is the travel opportunities that present themselves. I’ve been spoiled in the last couple months to go from the coast in Florida to the busy and beautiful city of Los Angeles! California boasts two of the most picturesque racetracks in the world and I got to spend my Saturday at The Great Race Place of Santa Anita Park.
With a beautiful backdrop of the California mountains and palm trees, this is not a place that you want to be locked inside. Luckily, the track offers gorgeous balcony bars, restaurants and lounge areas. One of my most favorite areas is The Chandelier Room. With deep blue velvet couches, white marble tables, and of course beautiful big chandeliers, it is the perfect place to grab a cocktail and socialize with friends! Surrounded by sunny balconies, you can hang inside and rest your feet and then head outside watch the races!
I’ve only been to Santa Anita for the Breeders Cup Championships which is quite a busy time in Pasadena, California. Although I do love a good Breeders Cup, it was wonderful to be at this big beautiful track on a lighter day and be able to just enjoy the different areas of the track including the Sports Book, the Chandelier Room, the Turf Terrace, and Sirona’s Sports Bar!
I arrived at the track pretty early in order to watch the races in the Dubai World Cup. Much of the track wasn’t open yet (but I got great parking!) but the Sports Book had all the televisions on and a famous handicapper, ‘Larry the Hat’ was in there making his plan for the days races. Personally, I will have an occasional ‘punt’ but nothing too extreme. Like SJP- I like my money where I can see it, in my closet! However, I do like to have a bit of fun with it every once in a while, and sometimes it even builds my closet up!!
Listening to the handicappers in the Sports Book was quite an experience. Their knowledge goes well beyond what is in the program which you can tell is from years of experience and hours and hours of studying. I was trying to pick up on some knowledge along the way…or some picks for the day. 😉
They inspired me to make a few bets on the day with one of them on the popular California Chrome who was running in the $10 Million Dubai World Cup. Me winning a few bucks wasn’t the highlight…watching the 2015 Kentucky Derby and Preakness Winner come back and win the richest race in the world was definitely the best part. The second best part of his win was now being able to buy myself a mimosa at the Chandelier Room! Way to go Chrome!
If you follow me on Instagram, you would have seen some pictures from my new house which included a couple beautiful chandeliers. These light fixtures are a major reason that I purchased the 1913 home, and my vision for its decoration was very much modeled after the gorgeous décor of this big room at Santa Anita. I am in love with the velvet upholstery and gold accent furniture. The clean white walls give the room such a chic minimalist feel. Many racetracks do not have this décor and as such, Santa Anita is a true gem.
I had an hour or so before the first post at Santa Anita, so I made my new friend Alfred sit down with me and talk about the ponies in on the day. We talked about pick-6’s and how he and his friends played them frequently and never took the pot, but the one day they decided not to play the ticket they chose, their picks would have won. Story of my betting life…I guess I’ll stick to the mimosas and the fashion 😉
After a yummy lunch and a few cocktails on the Turf Terrace, it was time for the big race, the Santa Ana Stakes that included our filly with Valor Ladies. Tuttipaesi (#6 horse) was imported from Italy and has over 15 owners, all female. We walked to the paddock to see her saddled for the race and then we waited by the rail of the track as she left the gate at the back of the pack and then well….you’ll have to watch for yourself…(if you keep watching after the race you will see me!)
There is no feeling like watching your horse cross the finish line in front of the pack. This win was definitely a sweet one as you can see how she pushed through two fillies and fought to get her head in front of that pole first. She gives a new meaning to “Run like a Girl.” Go Tutti and congratulations to all Valor Ladies partners on their big win.
From start to finish, my day at Santa Anita was a perfect way to spend a Saturday. Although I love my Old Kentucky Home, I can’t help but wonder if I should have a L.A. home as well….thoughts?? 😉
Thanks to Santa Anita for having me for the day and to Zoe Metz for snapping these beautiful photos! I can’t WAIT to get back to Pasadena and enjoy another day of racing at The Great Race Place….which is very aptly named! (See below for where to buy the whole outfit!)
Dress: ASOS Shoes: Steve Madden Hat: ASOS ($24!) Bag: Furla Watch: Longines Pin: Gift from my Grandmother 🙂
Click and Shop Below:
From the first year I attended the Kentucky Derby I focused on my fashion. I spent money I didn’t have, yep we’ve all done it, on a gorgeous dress, found a hat to match and killed my feet in a new pair of shoes. Trust me. I’ve been there done that.
Here was my first ever outfit for the Derby. I purchased my dress at a stylish boutique in Lexington, KY: Bella Rose. I borrowed the large white brimmed hat, which by the way is the only large brim hat I’ve ever worn, and then purchased a red scarf to tie around to synchronize the outfit a bit more. Just kept my hair down and by the end of the day it looked disheveled and frizzy…which I still didn’t perfect a few years later.
This was my next outfit, which is very special to my heart. This dress came from my Great Grandmother. It is silk and in great condition but if you look up close you can see the wear on the fabric. It had a 50’s skirt with an elegant train. Can’t see in this photo unfortunately. This was before FATR had the talented Joe Lyman to snap shots!
You can see the bandaids around my toes- my feet took a beating that year. No seats and a lot of walking!
I purchased the straw hat from Macy’s and then sewed on the green ribbon and pink flower to go with my dress. Not too shabby if I say so myself.
My third year I thought I stepped up my game with another vintage dress in a beautiful print. I had it altered as it was a bit too big, picked it up the day before and as you can see, it was a bit too tight at that point. However, I sucked it up, or in, and wore this beauty all day! I sported a simple Studio 910 fascinator and a bold necklace. You can see the heat got to my hair but I did smarten up and put it up! Just needed a bit more spray to keep it together.
Little did I know at that point that I would soon be on the Red Carpet conducting interviews…and not just snapping a picture with my iphone when the lights were all off.
I swear I have better photos….
This year, I was determined to wear Kentucky Derby Rose Red! I found this beautiful pleated dress from BCBG and paired with a statement fascinator by Sophie Hunter. I put my hair up in a bit of a messy bun with what seemed like 100 bobby pins. I wore platform shoes, which saved my feet, and kept my jewelry simple with just my beautiful Longines timepiece.
This short, but really long, evolution of Kentucky Derby outfits brings me to last year.
I actually chose the hat first on this one. Carol Kennelly created this beautiful piece and I knew it was something that would be perfect for my Kentucky Derby Red Carpet debut. I then needed to find a dress and I think I came by this by accident. ASOS was showcasing their bridesmaids dresses and this was one of them. I then found these shows on the clearance rack at Dillards which with some Dr. Scholl’s inserts they kept me comfy all day long.
There might be one or two outfits I look back on and say…really Bri?? But my Kentucky Derby outfits are not one of them.
From brand new, to vintage, more vintage and then some designer fashion mixed in. Each year has been a quite the journey, sometimes last minute, sometimes stressful, but in the end fun and memorable.
There you have it. I’ve learned alot over the years of dressing for the races…hopefully I can share some of my learnings to you!
I now look at each raceday as a new challenge to “up my game” from last years outfit. Well…that is the good part…the bad part is I haven’t improved my my tendency to procrastinate and really didn’t start on this ‘challenge’ until the week of the race. Luck was on my side on this one however…
As I scanned the web for the perfect oaks dress, I kept the checklist in the back of my head:
I am unsure how I even came across the dress that I chose but Thank Goodness I did! Taking a look on ShopBop which is a great site for designer or designer-like fashion, I came across the brand Keep Sake which (fancy that) is an Australian brand. The strapless ‘camouflage’ dress stuck out because of its print and structured fit. It was simple, elegant, yet standout and different. BINGO!
I purchased the dress in a small and of course when it came, the zip up was NOT going to happen. Too much pizza and burgers lately.
So I head back on the site and of course there is only a Large available on Zappos. I purchase that and choose 2-day shipping. The next day, I go to show my co-workers and I find a Medium! Cue the overnight shipping on my third dress.
Large was too big. Small was too small. Medium was just right. (3 little piggies style). By the way, it is now Tuesday before the Oaks.
I contacted Karen Morris to commission her to create a beautiful piece that would match the dress. I sent her the photo, she texted a few options, and once we agreed on some color choices she went on her creative journey to design the perfect piece.
I tend to keep my accessories very simple but knew I needed something around my neck to balance the bare skin and strapless dress. I headed to my go-to Asos.com and chose a rose colored tiered necklace that brought out both colors in the dress as well as accented it with a faux pearl piece. My two-toned Longines Conquest Classic watch matched perfectly, as always, and kept me on time to each one of my engagements on the day.
I chose a furry pink River Island Clutch to give the outfit just a tiny more pizzazz. The clutch had a gold medal strap that allowed me to get my cocktails and bets with free hands.
Lastly the shoes, as many of you know by following me on Instagram, I went against my cardinal rule and purchased a pair the week of. I didn’t have a pale pink pair of shoes and of course not a mustard pair. Jessica Simpson provided the perfect pale pink pumps that actually kept my feet pretty safe all day! I prepared for the worst by applying Liquid Band-aid on my pinky toes and heels to give them extra protection from rubbing. I not only came out with no blisters, but wore the same pair of shoes to the Vanity Party that night. 12 hours in those heels….this might deserve a participation trophy at least!
Shop the outfit here and if you would like the hat to match- shoot me an email: email@example.com One of a Kind and ready to ship!
Although my Kentucky Derby was much more than the hat….the hat definitely took center-stage. For the second year in a row, I decided to wear Carol Kennelly on the Derby Red Carpet. I actually hat a COMPLETELY different outfit picked out but couldn’t get a hat to match and wasn’t even sure if the dress would come in. Once I saw this striking red hat, I knew I needed to change direction and build an outfit around this piece.
I looked for red dress, white dress, (I stay away from black on Derby weekend), and of course some rose printed dresses. I really didn’t find anything stand out until I came across this Keepsake dress. At first glace, there is nothing stand out about it, but it really is quite a powerful piece of clothing. Its structure fit me perfectly, and had a cape style front and open back which was very unique. I almost went the full day without getting it dirty…almost.
What better clutch to rock then Fashion at the Races’ own Pony Purse? Brought the red in my hat and BCBG pumps all together and of course went with the red rose and derby horse theme. I’m always proud of this bag at the races. Always!
Per usual I kept my accessories simple as you wouldn’t see a necklace and I always fail to look for earrings. My Longines watch did all the talking here.
I did have a little bit better hair when I first started out. But right after my first interview on the carpet I had to do a hat swap as the camera couldn’t see my face (I actually thought about this beforehand and screwed it up obviously)..This popped a few bobby pins out of place and brought on the disheveled look a little bit. *Sigh* if I only had a traveling hair and makeup crew… maybe next year. Ericka Jane– can I borrow yours??
I love seeing these two lovely faces and they were a blast on the carpet. They were so happy to talk to everyone, take photos, steal Champagne bottles (you should really follow us on instagram) and of course SnapChat with us!
We promote Triple Crown Trends not only to give each race day its own category but also to make styling fun. I love each of thre three Triple Crown races and their different styles. Hard to pick a favorite but I can say that the Belmont Stakes might be up there. I have a tendency to always wear the color (or non-color) black. I am comfortable in it and it also gives me an extra dose of confidence because I feel I look best in black!
As many of you know, the color black slims you which is why the LBD, or Little Black Dress, has become well known and is a go-to for many ladies out there. So when I was looking for my monochrome fashion for the Belmont, this dress came across my scrolling fingers on the internet and I KNEW it was the one I wanted to wear.
When I traveled to Hong Kong for their Longines International Races, I made myself familiar with a few of the local brands and designers. One of which is the talented Sarah Lai. I wore one of her designs for the raceday there and have ever since kept up with her new collections. This gorgeous Lydia dress came out just a few weeks ago and I knew I had to have it!
In the world of curvy women, I wouldn’t be considered one (yes I am jealous of you!) but this dress hugged the body just right and gave me a ‘sense’ of curves. The flare of the white fabric gave the dress a sense of movement and sass. When I saw it, I think it screamed sophistication and elegance….what do you think??
Side note: Ladies, I have heard people say before “you are so skinny! I wish I had your body!” Or “Everything looks good on you! I could never wear that!” … the truth is not everything looks good on me just as not everything looks good on you! We all have our own body types and need to find the dress that makes us feel comfortable and confident! Also, I LOVE food….like LOVE FOOOOOD. I eat…a lot …sometimes too much and I will never stop eating good food (NEVER). I will, however, work-out more if I need to! I am very happy with my body regardless if sometimes I feel I should put the burger down and hop on the treadmill. I take care of myself and just want to have fun in life with food, drink, racing, clothing, friends, family etc. Find your happy place with your body, your fashion, and yourself! Don’t be jealous of other people to the point of wishing you were them, they all have the same insecurities as you do! The grass may look greener on the otherside, but it still needs to be cared for just like yours…maybe they just water it more! Grab the hose and get happy!
Finding millinery for the Belmont Stakes is always fun and sometimes a bit challenging. Due to the proximity of ‘The Fashion Capital of the World,” I always want to go a bit fashion forward but still need to keep it elegant for the Longines Fashion Contest. After meeting a new friend of mine, Leckie Roberts from West Village Wasp, I was connected with Heidi Lee who constructs 3-D printing hats! I tried on a few of her pieces and chose her Cocktail Parasol Hat in white to compliment my dress’s flare. Best thing about wearing this hat on the day: Prior to the fashion contest it was VERY windy on track and when usually I am holding on to my hat, this one never moved out of place.
I paired the elegant Sarah Lai dress with my Steve Madden lace up sandals (more than 50% off!). I prepared for the long day of racing by adding in Dr. Scholl’s inserts for some extra padding. I broke one of my rules by wearing these shoes. I wore these the day before in Soho for photo shoots and a get together at Nicole Miller…but we survived! No blisters or bruises! Thanks Steve!
I paired the Sarah Lai dress with my Steve Madden lace ups which I also added my trusty Dr. Scholl’s inserts for extra padding. I knew it was going to be a long day on the track and preparation is key!
See my Belmont Stakes outfit in action in a feature by America’s Best Racing called ABR Wired
I always have a blast planning my outfit for the Preakness Stakes. This year was no exception.
I had a couple different ideas in my head of what I thought my outfit should look like, but as the date got near, those ideas began to come down to reality. We were spoiled at the Kentucky Derby to have just the right temperature- sunny but not too hot. A couple rain scares but nothing that ruined the day. Preakness looked a bit bleak on the weather front and with a high of 58 degrees, I began to plan for the weather rather than the runway.
I am always attached to the midi style dresses but this round I was looking for a long sleeve piece. I found an absolute steal on ASOS that not only stayed on trend with its bold print but looked as though it was going to shield me a bit from the elements.
I wanted to find a shoe that was more than just a black pump and remembered seeing these fabulous Steve Madden sandals before and knew they came in a light pink. I snuck in another pair to get the Buy One get 50% Off deal that Madden was promoting…shhh don’t tell anyone.
I always like to pick a fun fascinator for Preakness Day and this Karen Morris piece was the perfect choice. The pink and black went perfect with the rest of my outfit and it allowed me to have a fun day with absolutely no hat worries. (Also made the best hat list with one of the publications!)
As soon as all my fashion appearances were over, I switched into some boots so that I could venture into the jungle known as the infield. We had a friend that was emcee’ing the ‘Burgers and Bud’ spot and that meant free burgers for us….
Now I will need to leave the bold prints, the bright reds, and the pale pinks and begin to plan my monochrome outfit for Belmont Stakes. New York City…we are comin’ for ya!
Churchill Downs always throws a good party and the White Party on Stephen Foster night is no exception. Night racing is where horse racing meets the night life. This years Downs After Dark White Party presented two thrilling stakes races which are both Breeders Cup Challenge Series Win and You’re In: Stephan Foster (G1) and Fleur De Lis (G2).
I was on site to host the nights special events and introduce the fashion side of things…so of course I needed to dress the part. I saw this dress on the Belmont Stakes Longines Fashion Contest winner and thought if it came in white it would be a perfect dress for the White Party. The skirt is SO FUN! I felt like a fashionable cupcake and LOVE it! If you flip through my past styles, you’ll see I usually like midi dresses as I think they fit me better but I had a blast with this shorter number. Plus, for night racing, the fashion calls for a bit more night-life and that is exactly what this outfit gave.
I can’t say enough about this lace fascinator from Locopa Designs. The piece was something I acquired a few years ago and have worn to the Preakness Stakes and in numerous photo shoots. I will never get tired of this easy to wear piece. It is so simple yet such a head turner. I wore my favorite low bun to keep everything in place on the humid evening. I normally try and hide the elastic but I did my hair way in advance because I needed to be at the track four hours before the first post. I actually did not mind the elastic showing!
Besides the video work on the night, Churchill Downs closed off the Plaza Balcony for a VIP Party which we invited the fashionable crowd to head up and enjoy the night. The balcony had a great view of the live band, TV’s to watch the races or a short walk to the grandstand, and this is the area that the jocks walked through to head down to the paddock.
Decorated with crystals, white linens and white leather couches, this was definitely the place to be. Christine and I enjoyed a few cocktails at the end of the night and got our liquid courage prior to hitting the dance floor!
The White Party is definitely one of my most favorite summertime events. Live music, food trucks, cocktails, fashion, and horse racing is the recipe for a good time.
I feel like I say this each time but this might be one of my favorite racing outfits to date!
I feel in love with Hong Kong designer Sarah Lai when I traveled across the pond for the Longines Hong Kong International Races. I was lucky enough to wear one of her gorgeous designs on raceday there and have been attached to her online shop ever since. She dresses the fashionable yet classic gal and that style is right up my alley. Do you remember the dress I wore in the HKIR?
I picked out this dress ages ago and knew it would be the perfect piece for Woodbine’s Queen’s Plate. The length of the skirt tied in with its ‘paneling’ for the perfect twirl made choosing my #QP16 outfit very easy! Plus, after contacting Sarah’s team and begging for some extra fabric, I knew I was able to tie in the perfect millinery.
When you see a racing fashionista in all of her glory and think ‘How does she do that?!’ … the answer is usually custom millinery. Planning the perfect raceday outfit is hard to do last minute; there are too many moving parts. Shoes. Hat. Jewelry. Dress. Purse. This isn’t just a “throw your LBD on, grab a bag and go!” Racing fashion is all about the details and to be precise in your details, you really need to put in the time and effort.
This was the first racing outfit that I was able to incorporate the exact fabric and pattern from my dress into my hat. Once I found out Sarah Lai’s fabulous team was able to accommodate my fabric request, I contact the talented Jenny Pfanenstiel from Formé Millinery to create a custom piece to tie into my dress.
I had the fabric sent to her and just let her do her thing!
“When Bri sent me the picture of her dress and I saw the panels and pleats in the skirt, I immediately thought of a pleating technique to compliment the dress. This would allow me to use fabric from the dress too in order to bring the whole look together.” Milliner Jenny Pfanenstiel, Formé Millinery
I knew it was going to be a long hot day at the races and my hair doesn’t fair too well in humidity (frizz ball guilty) so I brought in the professional to give me a clean elegant up do and set my make up for the day. I showed Make up and Hair Artist Karima Sumar a photo of a hair style I wanted to try and she absolutely nailed it! I wore my first Cat-Eye ever and think this might be my new favorite make-up. If only I could keep my hands from shaking with eyeliner! PS- I actually had a black eye (left) from a tubing/boating incident on my birthday (whoops!)- Karima, the Goddess that she is, covered it up and made me look pretty again!
Accessories stayed simple with borrowed royal blue earrings, my elegant Longines timepiece to keep me on time, and a white clutch that held all my raceday necessities. I once again wore my white BCBG sandals that I knew would keep my toesies happy for the entire day. There are some shoes that you can always count on and never go out of style.
Queen’s Plate was an absolute blast. We had 150 ladies line up at the FATR table to sign up for their chance at $3000 prize and the red sash awarding them the Best Dressed on the day. My shoulders got a great tan while I was stationed at the table until heading to the stage to host the George Brown College Millinery Design Competition followed by the Fashion at the Races Contest. After it was all said and done, the FATR team grabbed some cocktails in the #RethinkattheRaces tent and played some croquet…seriously!
If you are thinking about heading to Toronto for the Queen’s Plate next year (always the first Sunday in July) …DO IT! You will not be sorry. Shoot me an email if you need any suggestions on where to stay, where to eat, what to do, what to wear and of course anything about the raceday itself! xxoo
#QP17 – Here we come!
Be sure to check out our gallery of all the fashion on the day!