Picking a ‘clutch’ Clutch
Putting a racing outfit together can be a little intimidating to some. However, it isn’t too much different from putting your ‘going-out’ ensemble together and it can actually be a bit more fun.
One of the biggest mistakes I see on the fashion stages is oversized bags or no purses at all. I realize that for some girls, not having their big bags with them wherever they go can make them feel lost! Or for others, holding a clutch all day can be a bit tedious. In addition, I’m sure that your boyfriends are tired of holding your sunglasses…and your lip gloss…and your phone…oh and don’t forget your money and id’s.
Solution to all of the above: Picking the perfect purse.
So what is the perfect purse?
- A bag that holds all of your essentials (***ESSENTIALS – and no your little dog doesn’t count this one time)
- A bag that matches and ties into your outfits somehow, someway.
- A style of bag that you are comfortable carrying all day (strap or no strap? that is the question!)
- Size matters and in this case- bigger is NOT always better.
There’s four quick guidelines to go by when choosing your clutch for the races. I’ve tried the no-bag situation and always regret it. I’ve also tried the big bag situation and also regretted that. This is a 3 Little Bears Scenario- you need to find a bag that is Just Right.
Let me recap some of the bags I’ve worn (a lot of these you can still purchase!)
Here is one of my favorites that I have gotten so much wear out of:
Given as a Birthday gift a few years ago from my man, this purse has gotten more miles than any other bag I possess. It has a a classic look that allows it to dress just about anything up but also stay quiet within an outfit. If any of you know me, I carry two phones. One is for work and one is my personal one that I’ve had since high school. It is always important for my bags to be able to fit lip gloss, both phones, and my cash and cards. This one is pushed almost to its limit but fits all that just fine.
If you are looking for an absolute stand out bag and willing to splurge a little bit- Fiona Kutor’s line is exactly what you need:
I was SOOOOO excited to wear this bag to the races. I mean, “Lady Luck?!” C’mon! It was almost too good to be true!
Fiona Kutor makes some absolutely fabulous bags for her Kotur line. Beautiful ‘prints’ on well made (last you for a lifetime) bags. You can choose hard sided clutches like the one I wore, or soft leather pieces. Many of them come with straps so you can whip it over your shoulder when your picking up those winning tickets at the window. Also- you can customize one of their designs with whatever writing you’d like on it. Great gift for someone special!
Ahhh our beloved Pony Purse. Of course I have to talk about this gem! Obviously I have one of every color but they are such a statement piece at the races. I can fit my essentials in them as well: both phones, lip gloss, and cards and cash. However, if you stick bobby-pins in there, be ready for them to get stuck in the legs! Ha!
These are pretty inexpensive in the purse world. Only $45 at store.fashionattheraces.com and since you won’ t be wearing it every day they should last you a long time. They do come with straps but I prefer them as a clutch. Pretty easy to carry around as you can see in the photos.
A few others I’ve paired with my racing outfits:
The bag picture above was only $14 from Asos.com and it matched my ensemble perfectly! Asos offers 2-day shipping for procrastination convenience.
The most important thing to remember when you are bag shopping is that it needs to be something comfortable for you to sport all day. That includes what it needs to fit, how you are going to carry it, and of course how it looks with your outfit!
When you get involved in either our fashion contests at the track or anyone elses, they will be looking at all of the details. In the major Fashions on the Field events you are REQUIRED to have a bag of some sort.
It’s all in the details ladies and you bag needs to be selected just as your hat and your dress.
Putting Together a Winning Outfit
The saying “Practice Makes Perfect” doesn’t only apply to playing sports or an instrument…. It applies to everyday life and especially your race day fashion. Don’t get me wrong, some come out of the womb having a fashion sense and their own style guides but for many it is just a matter of making the effort to improve our style each and every day.
If you ask any of my close friends, they will tell you that I struggle with my casual fashion. I am definitely a jeans and tee type gal. I don’t have that ‘fashion blogger’ style that you see on Instagram. I have improved my casual closet lately thanks to Banana Republic (or maybe they should thank me?) but it is always a process.
Racing outfits are a different beast entirely and therefore you need to change your way of thinking. It is not the place where you grab your LBD and stick a hat on. If you really want that ‘winning outfit’ you need to put a lot more thought and planning into it.
My best outfits have come from planning (and yes I do a lot of procrastinating). Woodbine’s Queen’s Plate outfit was planned months in advance. I saw the dress online, knew I wanted to wear it at some event, and grabbed it the first chance I got. Excited for the dress I knew I had to really do it justice with the perfect hat. So I contacted the designer and asked for extra fabric to then incorporate into the hat design by milliner Jenny Pfanenstiel.
This was not done overnight- it would have be impossible to do this even within a week! But I planned, had an idea in my head and went for it.
So #1 Rule in putting together a Winning Outfit is PLANNING! Give yourself plenty of time to find those perfect pieces or to create them.
Another facet of a winning outfit is its uniqueness. When you see someone on the street or in the magazine and you think ‘WOW! Look at that outfit!’ …it isn’t usually something you see on the rack of you ‘safe’ store. It includes a piece of clothing that you just HAVE to know where it came from! This is a key ingredient to a winning race outfit. Uniqueness!
Everyone wanted to know where my Hong Kong Dress was from as well as my Woodbine. It came from Sarah Lai, a designer that you wouldn’t find at your local Macy’s! I had to go on a hunt! I was lucky to find her when I traveling to Hong Kong and on a whim looked up Hong Kong designers.
If you want to stand out, look in the not so obvious places. I hardly ever find my racing fashion at the mall. It’s just too simple of clothing. Malls cater to the everyday fashion, not to the unique fashion.
If you are lucky enough to live in a big city, shop sample sales or contact up and coming designers. You can still find clothing for the right price, but pieces that you wouldn’t find anywhere else. The internet can be exciting as well as frustrating in finding unique pieces. I am a huge fan of Asos or ShopBop for finding interesting pieces (always hit up the clearance too!). I do love brands like Nicole Miller and BCBG as well but the best thing you can do is go on the hunt for interesting brands like Sarah Lai. Plus, when you shop from a brand directly- you can almost always count on the quality. Although cheaper brands like ChicWish and Cupshe can have some good options- you never know what you are going to get-trust me.
So #2- Find Unique Pieces!
Which came first? The dress or the hat? I almost ALWAYS hear someone say the hat which I actually think is harder to match. Hats fit EVERYONE! However dresses are very particular to size, height, type etc. In my opinion it is much harder to find the perfect dress to already go with the perfect hat. With the talented list of milliners all over the world, you can always request a custom hat- within your budget! Again, the reason my Queen’s Plate outfit was so spot on, was because Jenny incorporated the actual fabric from the dress in my hat. Remember my Oaks outfit? Those colors were died specifically to match my dress. I sent Karen Morris the photo and she went with it. Again, going back to rule #1, you will need to plan and give enough time to pull this off. But don’t let a cheap hat pull your racing outfit down a notch. Millinery is only supposed to boost your perfect dress into the world of high end racing fashion!
So #3- Make sure your Millinery brings adds value to your outfit and doesn’t decrease it.
I say this in all of my articles and it is because it is the absolute most important rule but I’ll keep it short and sweet: Keep it Classy. Short tight dresses with open chested detail are not meant for racing. No- you do not need to dress like a nun, but the style at the races can still be ‘racey’ and elegant at the same time. Pay attention to the length of your skirts- I always say 2 inches above the knee or below. Plus you will be more comfortable all day!
Lastly, pay attention to detail. I am guilty of keeping my accessories very simple, which is my everyday fashion. However, if you follow the first two rules above in finding accessories you can really bump your raceday outfit to the next level. Statement necklaces are always a talking point in street fashion. If you can find a bold piece that really sets your dress or hat off- do it! You will look 1000x more put together than the gal with just a white dress and pink sun hat. Shoes are a very important ingredient to your outfit- my biggest pet peeve is seeing a bright bold fun outfit paired with nude shoes. THEY DO NOT GO! Just because they are neutral doesn’t mean they work. Oi vayy! Your shoes and purse need to have a place in the raceday style- don’t make them an afterthought. Ever put your purse on the ground when someone goes to take a photo? Or you ask them to just get the waste up? It is because your accessories don’t match! You want to say “Make sure you get my shoes!”
So last but certainly not least #5 – Accessories are the finishing touch to the Winning outfit!
Honestly- it isn’t hard to put a fashion forward raceday outfit together- you just need to make the effort. Be different. Be Beautiful. Be you! I feel like that is from a commercial of some sort- but seriously! DO IT! <3
From the Archives: Audrina Patridge in the Triple Crown Trends
Fashion at the Races was requested again by NBC’s LXTV 1st Look to dress their host for the Triple Crown. Audrina Patridge, famous first from the reality show The Hills, has become the new host after ex-Bachelorette Ali Fedotowsky left LXTV and went to E! News to be the beauty consultant. Audrina Patridge who projects a wild rocker side with her leather boots, multiple earrings, and thumb rings was so much fun to dress in the #TripleCrownTrends. Each outfit completely different than the last, Audrina learned about the styles of the race track and what racing fashion is all about. For Derby we dressed Audrina in a red and white floral dress with the traditional big brimmed Derby Hat. The hat was designed one-of-a-kind by CrowningLori Hats (which you could WIN on our website!). Lipstick red with sequin details, the hat is a stand out just as much as the young lady wearing it!
Preakness is definitely Audrina’s raceday. We dressed her in a KACHEL modern printed dress with an A-line skirt. Since the race day is all about the party, we keep the millinery light and simple. We went with the amazing “Black Widow” by Lisa Tan Millinery. A light and airy piece that sits on the head and doesn’t mess up the hair. Looking to dance? This dress is the best to get your twirl on and the hat won’t get in your way either! Cheer on your horse and lets party!!
Lastly we channel New York for the Belmont Stakes. The monochrome from the city is brought into Audrina’s race wear. We chose a Karen Millen dress that is flattering to any body type with black panels down the side and a floral print front and back. Rather than JUST black and white, we added a little bit of lavender color to set her apart from the crowd. We matched this dress with a beautiful Sophie Hunter fascinator. Best showcased with the hair up, we put Audrina’s hair in a low bun. The Triple Crown brings the best horses, best atmospheres, and of course the best racing fashion that the United States has to offer. It’s important that you know the #TripleCrownTrends before heading to the track. From the first leg, the Kentucky Derby, to the last in New York City, the Belmont Stakes, these are the races to see and be seen. Audrina Patridge will be turning heads at each race and we may take a little bit of the credit 😉 Stay tuned for the NBC 1st Look episode featuring Bri Mott dressing Audrina Patridge for the Triple Crown! It will air the night of the Kentucky Derby after Saturday Night Live!!
Tea Cup Anyone??
Although the races has a sort of elegance as a proper ‘Tea Party,’ this is not why we are referencing the length of dress or skirt as a Tea Cup. It truly has nothing to do with a Tea Party or the Races for that matter. A Tea Cup Skirt is a length that falls below your knee into your calf area. Some would say it’s the in-between of a midi and a maxi. However, we say it’s virtually the same as a midi (as we hate anything maxi for proper racewear). This is the perfect length for any raceday as well as a trend for Spring 2014. Its more elegant than a skirt that drops to your knee and of course the mini skirt (which as a reminder should never be worn at the races). Whether it be in pencil form or a free flowing full skirt, this is the length to try out. It looks fabulous both in a dress or skirt form. If in a skirt, opt for a high waist fit which will elongate your body making you look slimmer and taller. On the shorter side? Pair it with a pair of nude heels… this will elongate you even more. Lady like yet still modern-exactly what racewear should be. ShopBop: http://www.shopbop.com/clothing-dresses-midi/br/v=1/2534374302204904.htm?baseIndex=0
Check out our Kentucky Derby Fashion advice on WHAS11 ABC in Louisville!
5 Quick Tips on Dressing for the Races
Be comfortable-no one looks good in “someone else’s” clothes or shoes
Leave the night club dress at home. Think classic and feminine when putting together you race outfit
Wear headwear! Hats and Fascinators are very fashionable and take any outfit from pretty to STUNNING!
Dress for the weather–if it’s hot– don’t risk “pitting out”–chilly? Wear stockings or a shawl/sweater.
Lastly, SMILE. Too many times girls are too busy giving the b**** look to each other–and it’s never flattering.
Shine your shoes before you arrive. Girls do pay attention to this. (Obviously NO SNEAKERS)
Tie your tie or bowtie correctly–need help? Check out this link: http://www.tie-a-tie.net/
Make sure your suit fits. It’s so easy to recognize when your suit isn’t fitted. Spend the extra and Get R Done!
Sunglasses…great for outside…UNNECCESARY INSIDE. Take them off or look like the tool—your choice
Smell good (PLEASE!) We are all attracted to good smells…don’t find yourself in the other category.