The link between horse racing and fashion

Gaborone continues to expand its social calendar events with the latest being a horse-racing and cultural fashion event at Sebele tracks this past weekend.
The event was themed Botswana Pele and seemed patterned after the famous Durban July and other high profile horse-racing events around the world which have a strong fashion element. Explaining the link between horse-racing and fashion, one of the organisers, Chabo Majaga, said race day fashion is a tradition that can be traced centuries back to English royalty.

“Fashion at the tracks is associated with class and to go to a horse- racing event was a regal affair those days. Everyone would be dressed to the nines and we wanted to bring that experience here,” she said, adding that the event also provides fun for the whole family and introduces the horse-racing sport to Batswana. “The other thing is people in Gaborone are very interested in fashion so combining the two made sense.”

According to an article by Vogue magazine, “the origins of horse racing stretch all the way back to the 1500s when British aristocracy developed the tradition as a social occasion and opportunity to mingle in high society. As such, racing events all had an incredibly strict dress code, so as to maintain the royal tone of the events. At many races throughout history, members not only of the aristocracy but of the British royal family itself would make appearances at races, and thus a high expectation of elegance was placed on all guests.”  More than any other, the one fashion item that most people associate with horse racing is the extravagant hat sported by lady attendees. The hats seem to get more elaborate each year, and major races across the world are opportunities for women to showcase new trends and for designers to provide the latest designs.

The fashion and style at race day events around the world are attributed to socialite MaryLou Whitney of Saratoga Springs, New York.  She still keeps it classy and shows enthusiasts what horse racing used to be about: the horse, the glamour, the fashion and the fun. Whitney’s style is always impeccable, elegant and classic. She wears hats to the races with bold statement jewelry and also accessorises with pearls.