Thursday, November 08, 2007

Love All, Trust A Few

'Going to the races' is one of Australia's favourite pastimes. As two of the biggest race days, the Caulfield and Melbourne Cups respectively, have just passed I thought I might take a moment to give a quick history of race wear and share my thoughts on the latest discussions regarding what is and what is not appropriate.

As always, we start with the glorious past. In the olden days, race wear consisted of full length dresses, accessoried with hats (proper hats), gloves, handbag and matching umbrella. It was beautiful and elegant, but a little bit dowdy (and hot!).

This evolved into skirt suits with sleeves that went past the knees. Then in the 1960's, famous model Jean Shrimpton attended the Melbourne Cup wearing a simple shift dress without a hat or gloves. Heaven forbid! However, it was the fact that the dress came above the knee that made the most headlines and so Australia was introduced to the mini skirt... About three years after everyone else, god we are backwards.
Gosh, she looks amazing! Extra props for the shoes. The pillbox on the lady behind her isn't too bad either.

Onwards to the seventies and eighties where, for the most part, proper race wear attire and ettiquette rules were abided by. Bless the eighties and their glorious shoulderpads.

That brings us to today, and again I will lament the lack of style that people have today. Tell me if I'm getting repetitive. I'm sorry, I really am, but I will continue to shout my disappoint from the roof tops until somebody listens. Sometimes it seems as though 88% (an exact figure, I know) of Generation X have been born with out any style or any wish to put in some effort regarding their appearance. Why?

Anyway, back to the present. There has been a call in recent years for a dress code to be established which dictates what should be worn to race days. This is meant to prevent faux pas such as this occuring.
Some people may be asking what is wrong with this. I'll tell you. It's not suitable for people to get their goodies out at a race day. It's best to choose race day attire with the same care you would if you were attending a church wedding. Cover up! Just because you have breasts doesn't mean that everyone else wants to see them. The other 'trend' that saddens me a little is the rise of the fascinator. Sure, they are pretty, but what occasion other than the races actually calls for a hat these days?

When Paris Hilton attended the Melbourne Cup a few years back at least she got the hat right. Her clothing however, left a lot to be desired.

NOTE - The guy with her is 'Millsy'. I think he got to the top ten of one of the rounds of Australian Idol. When she was here, they shared an incredibly staged pash on the balcony of one of the hotels she stayed at. Totally dodgy.

I think that these two ladies, who won one of the Fashion in the Field rounds, get it right. Interesting hats, suitable cleavage and arm covering attire, with just a hint of leg to keep it modern. Nice gloves too.

However despite all the talk of implementing dress codes, I don't think that this is the way to go either. Dress codes tend to stifle creativity and everyone may end up looking like variations of a theme. They are also hard to define. After all, how much leg is okay, how much decolletage is right? It really depends on the person.

I attended the races this year as well. While they aren't as big an occasion in my small-ish town, most people still go. I decided on the day what I was going to wear, so I'm no where near as well dressed as the girls above but I think (and hope) the I wore something that was appropriate and modern.

I wore a thrifted lace dress, lots of necklaces, purple tights and a vintage pill box hat with lots of little silk flowers on it. In my defence, I did have a jacket but it was too hot to wear it. Again, a long, long post. It seems like I write too much or not at all.


ambika said...

I remember reading Jean Shrimpton say she didn't wear stockings or a hat for the very good reason that she didn't own any--which the Australian press found shocking. It made me laugh at the time.

Isabel said...

Holy Crap, Jean Shrimpton looks amazing. I want those spectators. I think you chose a lovely outfit to go to the races in as well, you look adorable!

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Emma said...

Damn, great post.

the iron chic said...

I know!
I went to see Swan Lake last year and there were people wearing jeans!
I was super-annoyed. People used to bust out their best outfits for the ballet.