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Stobo Castle Ladies Day Style Guide 2022

On Friday 5th of August 2022 Musselburgh Racecourse is set to host its most glamorous raceday of the year. Stobo Castle Ladies Day - part of the exhilarating Sensational 7, promises to be one of those days to remember with racegoers getting a long overdue opportunity to show a sense of style and individuality.

Monday 1st August 2022

Finally it feels right to dress up again and the new look fashion competition for 2022, The Style Awards, seeks to celebrate those racegoers with a distinct sense of elegance and those who bring individual flair to their Raceday ensembles.

One of the main themes of Ladies Day at Musselburgh Racecourse this year is the “evolution of Style” which looks at the changing styles of Ladies Day past and present, a theme that forms part of the entertainment throughout the day with dazzling fashion competitions complimenting the excitement of the racing action. 

When you think of Ladies Day through the years two words come up time and again. Glamour and Elegance. No matter which enclosure you’re attending these are the twin qualities to keep in mind when deciding upon your outfit.

The term Ladies Day dates all the way back to 1823 and while the clothing and millinery styles have changed immeasurably in the intervening years the idea of dressing to impress remains eternal.

Wilfully romantic dresses such as the Needle & Thread example worn by Stobo Castle Ladies Day host Jennifer Reoch are a winning combination of tradition and drama. 

Ivory tulle and lace have proved a winning combination over the years at Ladies Day. By adding in ruffles, tiering and surface detail our national love of a costume drama can be brought to life, in this case with a strong Edwardian edge. 

With a regal appeal ivory tones and cream easily pair with black accessories for a chic monochrome ensemble or opt for pretty pinks and lilacs for a marriage made in heaven.

Indeed the Edwardian period heavily influenced Cecil Beaton’s famous Day at the Races costumes for Audrey Hepburn in My Fair Lady and remains a potent touchstone for race day style over the decades. 

Another era we’ve been seeing a resurgence of lately is the late 1930’s and early 1940’s. Bias cut dresses in floaty fabrics ensure a flattering silhouette with covered buttons to punctuate their distinctive floral prints. This is a style that suits almost everyone with it’s sleek elegance, sophistication and versatility, and a firm favourite with Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge. 

Rixo are undoubtedly the go to brand for this style of dressing although you may have a problem narrowing down which option to choose from their fabulous collection of frocks at Harvey Nichols. 

After the sobriety and austerity of the war years the fashion world embarked upon an optimistic era of flirty feminine style and you can feel the same emotion chimes with our newfound appreciation of getting dressing up again after two seasons of lockdowns and restrictions.

Although Christian Dior’s influential New Look styles debuted in 1947 to universal aclaim, the fuller silhouette didn’t really get going more widely in Britain until the 1950’s after post war fabric rationing finally ended in 1949. This shape was a firm favourite of Queen Elizabeth and her sister Princess Margaret which only adds to it’s continuing raceday appeal. 

Floral prints and pleating proved incredibly popular throughout this decade Allied to a popular fit and flare shape they can always be relied upon to deliver an evocative and glamorous option when it matters most. Pearls and white gloves optional. 

Self Portrait are past masters at modern day incarnations of these glamorous styles with lots of vintage inspired detailing to celebrate.

Although if all these runners and riders - white, florals, flouncy frills, lace and vintage inspired prints - leave you nonplussed perhaps strong block colour, especially in jewel tones could be just the thing to help you stand out in the crowd. 

Award winning TV and radio presenter Jennifer Reoch exemplifies just how head-turning block colour can be in this emerald green Self Portrait dress although expect lots of hot pink with the advent of the Barbie Movie and on a more cerebral front, an all pink Valentino show which has us all re-evaluating the bubble-gum shade. 

Despite the prevalence of modest hemlines traditionally seen in the enclosures, there is no getting away from the fact that dress length trends are on the rise this season so a shorter length dress is a fresh  and youthful option. 

Chic shifts, worn with a lower block heel, pillbox hat and frame handbag reflect the race going style of the 1960’s and 70’s with Princess Anne as a strong sartorial influence. 

Trouser suits and even jumpsuits are now acceptable as part of the famously strict dress code at Royal Ascot so there really are no excuses not to feel and look fabulous in whichever style you prefer to shine in. 

I’d gently caution against strapless or bandeau options. After all no-one wants to experience a wardrobe malfunction celebrating your big win! 

Other items I’d veto are du jour cropped tops and cutout details. There are many other opportunities to bear your midriff but perhaps Ladies Day isn’t one of them. 

Melissa Ash, Private Shopper at Harvey Nichols, Edinburgh has noted her clients are loving ruffles and colour pops for racedays and special occasions, and strong demand for “unique, one-off pieces, as well as two pieces including suits and co-ords” Her top style tip? “I would recommend wearing a blazer over the shoulder as keeping warm is essential. A blazer worn over the shoulder will also help to elevate your look, keeping it sophisticated yet practical” 

The adage ‘to get ahead, get a hat’ has never been more apt than on Ladies Day indeed, as hats were worn less and less in everyday life we now relish the few precious opportunities we get to wear them. 

Let’s face it nothing makes you feel more dressed up, from tip to toe than a fabulous hat. It’s pure theatre.  

Luckily Scotland punches above its weight in terms of marvellous milliners, as exemplified by the diverse designs by the talented Sally-Ann Provan. 

The Edinburgh based milliner has noticed a few strong trends emerging “There’s definitely a move towards smaller taller hats, they create impact without casting shadows across your face in photos, and it’s easier to embrace people without negotiating around a large brim!” Wise words indeed, and in terms of colour?  “Neutral tones are always popular, but colour pops of yellow or emerald or fuchsia are a definite trend this year.”

The talented hairdressers at Charlie Miller are past masters at dealing with many a raceday hairdo.  Be it a bouncy blow out or a chic chignon, always factor in it can be quite windswept at the racecourse, always something to keep in mind when planning your hairstyle for the races. 

Turning to the tricky issue of footwear, although it’s received wisdom that stiletto heels are to be avoided for race day, if you’re not intending to wander far from the stand you’re less likely to experience that sinking feeling when venturing onto the turf. If they’re your preferred style just go for it, only beware of conditions underfoot. 

Thankfully this season block heels are the prevalent trend and wedges are always an option, and work extremely well with 1940’s and 1970’s styles.  

Hedge your bets against our magically mercurial weather (it’s Scotland after all, and unpredictable at the best of times) by remembering that all important umbrella. Make it a pretty one and when the sun shines you can always pass it off as a parasol.

All in all, Stobo Castle Ladies Day at Musselburgh Racecourse is shaping up as one of the biggest fashion extravaganzas the country has seen in a while, perhaps the best one yet.

With a selection of packages still available here is your final reminder that Ladies Day is not just for Ladies, men are very much welcome to come in their finery too.

Usually a sell-out event and with tickets selling fast it would be advisable to book now to avoid missing what will be an affair to remember. Book now, click here.

By Eva Arrighi

Stylist and Journalist