A casual yet elegant hat always fits in at a day at the races in Saratoga (Photos courtesy Eclipse Sportswire).
Here we are at one of the most important race meets of the year, and, as always, the fashion does not disappoint! I am talking about beautiful Saratoga Race Course, of course! With every weekend having significant stakes races, there are more than enough reasons to dress.
I find the crowds consist of many seasoned Saratogians, New York City/New Yorkers, insiders to racing - like owners and trainers, but Saratoga is definitely a summer destination for all kinds of racing fans.
Saratoga, with its numerous race meets and horse sales, is a huge draw for the racing community. Each summer they converge on the town and a lot of business gets done here! They are the center of the racing community and they love Saratoga.
Where they go, fashion seems to follow. You will see people dressed in styles ranging from comfortable and preppy to elegant; and proper hats are always in abundance. Therefore when assessing the fashion of the Saratoga Race Meet crowd, you must consider the influence that the racing community has on the town. However, I find that this aspect is not what gives Saratoga it’s uniqueness from other race meets.
Over the years, I have observed that it is the townspeople - the natives - the other New Yorker’s that set the bar of dress. In this area of New York, you have the born and raised, city escapees, city retirees, the newly fortunate, and the socially seasoned. The capitol, Albany, is close by, and with Saratoga in their backyard they hop over to join in on the fun as well.
Remember, these are all fellow northerners and we tend to choose clothing that is very proper, tailored, not too tight and comfortably fitting. Also popular is the drapy and flowing silks and cotton. Hardly ever do you see dresses made with form-fitting stretch fabrics like those I saw in Del Mar. Neither does one see a low, low cut in the neckline.
But that is not to say there isn’t a decent showing of curves and femininity. Most skirts are hemmed at the knee or just below or above in pencil, A-line and flair gathered cuts - very classic! There are also elegant and refined sundresses, suits, sheath dresses, jumpsuits, and pantsuits.
A RANGE OF FASHIONS CAN BE SEEN AT SARATOGA
In some ways, it reminds me of the Keeneland spring meet but with a northern flair.
In Saratoga, most certainly, men do wear hats. They will not be left out. As with most American men, the fedora is the style of choice. The colors tend to be lighter as in tan, white, or ivory. “Men like a hat to match their suits, too” like my husband, Blake, always says!
Men’s clothing here is wonderfully typical racing fashion like seersucker or summer sports coats and slacks. It is noted that I rarely see a “wildly” dressed man at this race meet like so many are at the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont.
TYPICAL MEN'S FASHION AT SARATOGA
As to color, for the most part I sell darker, richer colors in Saratoga, greens, purples and blues. It does depend on general clothing trends of course, but as always in the Northeast, black, tan, and navy are always big draws. The natives do tend toward more colors, and are more adventurous with pinks, fuchsia, corals and yellows.
There are a number of wonderful events and fundraisers here (that are generously supported, I might add) that focus on the ladies with the word “Fillies” in the title, one being a fundraiser for breast cancer research, so these colors certainly have their place in the Saratoga summer palette.
Interestingly, I also sell multi-colored designs here, more than other places, and for two reasons: one is that a hat can be worn multiple times with multi-colors, and second, multi-colors are a summer trend that allows you to garner some fun attention.
THE ABRV TEAM SHOWS AN ARRAY OF SARATOGA FASHION CHOICES
This leads me to the interesting thing about Saratoga fashion and why it is so unique.
I have always said that if a style I design and my staff creates is too way-out for some stores/places; it will inevitably sell in Saratoga! The biggest reason for the elegant, yet avant-garde selling well here is that there is this wonderful community of women that really know hats! Let’s face it, when New York moxie meets the successful, well-travelled racing woman, there is going to be some healthy and fun fashion competition! That is why the large, showy, but never-too-large, yet comfortably worn styles are so popular here!
We New Yorker’s always need to be somewhat pragmatic, yet out there; it is in our nature. The great thing about Saratoga is that no matter what style you choose, there is always tastefulness and elegance here, and I love that!
Frankly, it all makes for great fashion and is a delight for the eyes.
Another wonderful thing about Saratoga race meet is the “Backyard.” This, like the infield at most racetracks is extremely family oriented. You have whole families coming in for the day, having a picnic and staying the entire day. Very welcoming!
The style motto for the backyard is “come as you are and have fun!”
In closing, one thing is for sure: Saratoga is known for great hats!
So, when you see a great one here, buy it!