Shopping for a raceday outfit can be a major part of the fun when it comes to your overall raceday experience.
But spending large budgets on outfits that may only be worn once may jar with racegoers who are seeking to live more sustainable and eco-friendly lifestyles. Is it possible to be fashion conscious AND environmentally conscious when it comes to raceday outfits?
Our theme for January is ‘love planet Earth’ for those whose New Year’s Resolutions include reducing their impact on the environment. We look at raceday luxuries including beauty and grooming products, fragrances and accessories.
And here we bring you some alternative ideas for sharing, repairing, caring and re-wearing your clothes and accessories to make them last longer and enjoy many repeat uses!
There are clothes rental services springing up all over the country (and world!) and if you need an eye-catching outfit for a one-off occasion this is a highly affordable way to wear a highly expensive creation. Because items are rented again and again, they will get plenty of wear without being wasteful.
MY WARDROBE HQ is a fashion rental marketplace and sharing collective, featuring pre-worn luxury womenswear fashion that is available to rent and buy, with designers such as Chanel, Gucci and Rixo to Temperley, Retrofete and Saint Laurent.
A social community focused on coveted mid to high-end designer clothes, shoes, bags and accessories from like-minded women, MY WARDROBE HQ acts as the middleman between vendor and lender. You can rent or buy items, or include your own wardrobe pieces in the collection too – so you can earn money from renting out or selling your pre-worn raceday dresses, jewellery and hats as well.
They have partnered with a luxury storage facility to ensure items are stored in a temperature-controlled environment and catalogued in a secure and organised way, and clothes are cleaned before they are loaned out again.
Another way of reusing clothes is to shop for vintage items, and Open for Vintage hosts a covetable collection of designer clothes and accessories. They state that ‘luxury goods are made to last a lifetime, not a season’, and they partner with specialist independent boutiques to ensure high quality, well cared for vintage products from around the globe can be rediscovered all in one place. By connecting customers with vintage, they are creating a cycle, pivotal around preserving and re-housing fashion’s most quality craftmanship from decades past. Luxury pieces feature heritage brands including Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Hermes, Rolex and Cartier.
By exclusively sourcing products from highly respected luxury boutiques around the world, they support independent businesses as well as providing a sales outlet. However, they do not buy or sell from individuals.
If you’re not sure how to work vintage clothing into a raceday outfit, you can call on the styling services of Sarah Kate Byrne. As stylist to the ITV Racing team including lead presenter Francesca Cumani, she knows all about choosing the right outfits for each particular raceday occasion and specialises in vintage and sustainable clothing when sourcing her ensembles, as well as supporting small boutiques and emerging talents for a seamless blend of classic and contemporary.
MENDING AND ALTERATIONS
Another way to get more use out of an outfit is to have it altered – for a new style – or mended. If you don’t have a local tailor, Sarah Sivyer runs Thread, a ‘slow fashion’ clothing maintenance service that provides repairs and alterations online via Etsy. She says “Extending the life of our clothing reduces carbon, waste and water footprints, and is something positive we can all do to boycott fast fashion waste.”
Select a service from her range on Etsy, then post your fashion and textile item(s) to her. Services include hems, turn-ups, re-styling pockets, tapering trouser legs, jacket alterations and more.
“At Thread, we’re accomplished in couture sewing and tailoring techniques and dedicated to the appreciation of beautifully made and carefully considered textiles.”
For tweed repairs try British Invisible Mending Service who have over 70 years of experience and a seriously impressive client list. Cashmere and other woollen items are also a specialty.
‘Invisible Mending’ dates back more than 200 years and is a highly skilled and time-consuming method of repairing damage to cloth by taking individual threads from a hem, side seam or other concealed part of the garment and re-weaving them over the damaged area to make as near perfect repairs as is humanly possible.
Although in some cases the cost of the repair may be worth more than the price of the garment itself, for inherited and expensive designer items this service may well be worth the fee. In either case they are happy to provide a quote, and in cases of accidental damage, the repair may be covered by the cost of your house insurance.
SHOES AND BAGS
Clothes are not the only items that can be repaired and recoloured. The Handbag Clinic is the longest established handbag cleaner in the UK working not only for consumers but for many of the world’s leading department stores and fashion designers.
It repairs and cleans bags, adds zips, mends stitching and can completely change the colour of a bag if required. The team works on all types of bags from designer names such as Chanel, Jimmy Choo, Hermes and Mulberry; and every day thousands of pounds worth of bags arrive in need of help.
They also offer services for shoes – including a specialist service to repair the red soles on Christian Louboutin shoes. Managing director Ben Staerck said: “My wife has quite an extensive shoe collection and asked me if we could restore her Louboutins’ soles. She was thrilled with the results so we decided to widen our range of services to offer red sole restoration.”
And it’s not just for Laboutins: as well as their normal services of cleaning and restoration for all shoes, they also offer more traditional cobbler services such as replacing heel tips and re-soling, plus shoe dyeing if you want a new look altogether.
They also sell pre-owned handbags (that have been fully restored) and they will buy bags from you too!
Shoes, leather boots, coats and some bags may also benefit from waterproofing (or rewaterproofing) to prolong their life, and specialists STORM CARE can help.
Offering complete aftercare solutions for outdoor kit in eco-friendly packs, products help to restore and enhance the performance of technical outdoor apparel and equipment, helping you to get maximum usage from items such as waterproof jackets, down jackets, leather, suede and synthetic footwear – and much more.
All of their products are made in England, and are PFC, PFOA and PFOS free.
Suitable for all fabrics including Gore-Tex®, Sympatex® & eVent®, you can find them both online or in stores across the world.
Often inherited jewellery can have plenty of sentimental value as well as valuable gemstones and metals, but the style of the design might look old fashioned and not something you would want to wear in the 21st century.
If you can’t bring yourself to sell it, and are sad to see it permanently locked away in the jewellery box to be disused and forgotten, a different option could be to have it remodelled – either tweaking parts of the design, for example changing the setting of the stone; taking elements of the piece and re-purposing, for example changing a ring into a pendant; or completely reworking the components of metal and stones into an entirely new piece.
There is a great choice of jewellers out there who offer these services alongside their own (new) designs, so shop around, find one whose style you like, and sign up for a consultation.
For example, Sue Lane makes beautiful contemporary jewellery but she also will remodel or upcycle your old wedding rings and sentimental jewellery to create new pieces of bespoke jewellery in the style of her own designs. By reusing the stones and metal she transforms old fashioned items into contemporary styles, suitable for special occasions as well as everyday wear.
Rubie Rae Jewellery Design has evolved from the combined skills of the Rae team led by Robert and Melanie. Although specialists in engagement rings, they also offer a jewellery restyling service to transform your old or broken pieces into something more wearable. Their restyles range from complete contemporary creations to more subtle or senstive changes, according to your brief.
Of course no serious raceday outfit is complete without a hat! But as many hats are chosen to match specific outfits for specific occasions, and, as many are made to be striking and memorable, often they are worn just once before being relegated to the top of the wardrobe to gather dust.
One obvious way around this is to hire your hat instead of buying it. There are now many hat hire services that specialise in raceday occasions such as Royal Ascot, and they operate for racing festivals around the country.
For example Lizzie’s Hats is run by Lizzie Hughes, daughter of former racehorse trainer Richard Hannon (senior) and married to champion jockey, Richard Hughes. Having been brought up in horseracing and attended many race meetings over the years, she can offer experienced advice on the right hat for the occasion as well as one to suit your outfit.
For men’s hats, there are several renowned top hat hire companies, including Oliver Brown. As well as offering hats for hire, he also offers antique or ex-rental hats for sale, plus a refurbishment service to bring old toppers back to life, including both antique and contemporary top hats. “We’re lucky enough to work with one of only two specialists left in the world who can refurbish an antique silk top hat.”
If you’ve inherited an heirloom top hat, they can also alter the shape or size of it to give you the perfect fit. However they point out it is not possible to make the top hat larger and they also can’t replace the outer silk itself as it’s no longer in production.
Atelier Millinery also offers a range of refurbishment options for women’s raceday hats and men’s non-top hats such as Panamas. Their focus is on good old fashioned customer service from a team of milliners who know their stuff.
Elizabeth Bessant is a couture designer who will give your hat a make-over to co-ordinate with your outfit – even if you didn’t commission her to make your outfit as well. With simple but striking tweaks, her creativity and eye for detail means you may enjoy many uses from something as simple as a wide-brimmed straw hat.
Finally, we could not talk about hats and sustainability without mentioning the champion of Eco-Chic millinery Chloë Haywood, founder of Hatastic! in 2009, which later went on to become Chloe Haywood London.
Passionate about transforming old, unused, unloved and waste items into beautiful raceday hats (and other accessories) Chloe has been leading the way in this field since she won Young Clothes Show Designer of the Year aged just 16. Nowhere else could you purchase a fabulous raceday hat made with skateboard cast-offs for example!
With collections since shown at Milan and London Fashion Weeks, and designs seen in Vogue, Elle, The Times and The Wedding Magazine, Chloe is now a Fellow 500 of The Ethical Fashion Forum, and a member of ‘Made in Britain’. She continues to create fabulous pieces from materials sourced via vintage traders, fabric recycling, private donations and sustainable fabric manufacturers, and runs fascinator parties in case you seek to be similarly inspired.
Karen can usually be found glued to her computer or at the stables. Having edited several national magazines she co-founded Eclipse Magazine in 2008 after realising that many of her friends were nervous about going racing due to lack of information – what to wear, how to bet etc.
She absolutely loves her job (how many people can say that?!) and is truly grateful to all supporters of and contributors to Eclipse Magazine.
If you are reading this she would like to say THANK YOU! (And please spread the word about Eclipse…!!)