Classic Style as a Guide for Travers Day Fashion

Events / Travel
Seeking the perfect look for the 2017 Travers Stakes? Pia Catton suggests using history as a guide. (Eclipse Sportswire)

Every stakes day makes its own fashion statement, and the Travers Stakes distills the relaxed, understated elegance of late-summer in Saratoga Springs, N.Y.

The Travers has all the prestige of the Triple Crown races, but the "Midsummer Derby,” as it is known, stands apart from the style traditions of those early spring races.

The Kentucky Derby is a time for splashy, wow-factor hats. But a fetching Travers day hat need not be ostentatious.

At the Preakness Stakes, dressing up to match the colors of Maryland’s state flag is a must: Race fans come decked out in yellow and black, accented with red. Saratoga Race Course’s colors may be red and white, but too much of that theme will have you feeling like a candy cane.

New York City’s Belmont Stakes is either a time for your sharp urban look — or a casual outfit that will get you through a day of tight-packed crowds trying for a glimpse of a potential Triple Crown.

Saratoga’s leafy setting, though, is more Hamptons than Manhattan. More Palm Beach than Miami. More Newport than Boston.

So what to do for Travers Stakes fashion inspiration? Let history be your guide. Racing at Saratoga has more than 150 years of legacy, much of it linked to some of America’s most prominent families.

Perfect example of style and function. (Pia Catton)

The Whitneys, Vanderbilts, Phippses and more have been photographed at New York tracks since, quite literally, the invention of the camera.

Take this 1934 photo of Mrs. John Hay Whitney, as she arrives at Belmont. Liz Whitney, as she was known, was married to “Jock” Whitney from 1930 to 1940, and was a devoted Thoroughbred breeder in her own right.

In this photo, which hangs at Belmont Park, she captures the style and function of everything that's just right for Travers day.

Her hat is simple and functional yet stylish. Her linen dress is long enough to avoid unfortunate gusts of wind, glaring sun or sticky seats.

Her heels are a comfortable height for walking and standing around the paddock. And while she couldn’t fit much in that clutch, who wants to lug around a tote bag at the track?

This photo was taken 83 years ago, and she still looks fabulous.

So in the spirit of Liz Whitney, here are a few picks from Polyvore that take a 2017 twist on a 1934 look. They’re not trendy. But few trends will hold up 83 years from now.


1. Touch of Blue

2. Silver Shoes

3. With Floral

4. Strappy

5. Butterfly and Stripes

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