Embracing Equestrian Elegance: Carson Kressley’s Seven Fashion Dos and Don’ts for the Breeders’ Cup

Pop Culture
Carson Kressley, Longines Prize for Elegance, Breeders’ Cup World Championship, Eclipse Sportswire
Carson Kressley, far right, was one of the judges for the 2022 Longines Prize for Elegance fashion competition at the Breeders’ Cup World Championships and will help judge the contest again in 2023. (Eclipse Sportswire/Max Sharp)

The upcoming Breeders’ Cup World Championship is not just a prestigious horse racing event; it’s also a fashion extravaganza where attendees can showcase their unique style while paying homage to the equestrian tradition. As attendees plan out their final fashion stylings for Nov. 3-4 at Santa Anita Park, we chatted with fashion icon Carson Kressley to discuss the ultimate “dos” and “don’ts” for dressing at the Breeders’ Cup.

Here are his top seven tips on how you can stand out in the crowd while adhering to fall race day fashion.

1. Embrace the Fall Vibes

Carson Kressley, Breeders' Cup World Championships, Eclipse Sportswire
Kressley at the 2021 Breeders' Cup. (Eclipse Sportswire)

“Every race has its own personality, and it’s important that attendees acknowledge the Breeders’ Cup is not the Kentucky Derby,” Kressley said. In contrast to spring races like the Derby, the Breeders’ Cup takes place in the fall, so be sure to embrace the season. He advised against having "seasonal dysmorphia" by dressing inappropriately. Instead, embrace fall colors and fabrics that will keep you comfortable and seasonally on brand!

2. Elevate Your Headwear Game

At the Breeders’ Cup, consider wearing felt or velvet headwear to add a touch of sophistication and warmth to your ensemble. “Fashion is all about form following function, so reserve straw hats for spring and summer when they’re a functional accessory on hot or humid days,” he explained. Wool, felt, and velvet hats serve to keep you warm and dry but are also more appropriate for the time of year.

Show off some fall flair! (Eclipse Sportswire)

3. Stay Seasonally Chic

Since the Breeders’ Cup is in Southern California this year, it could still be warm even in November. To avoid overheating, attendees can incorporate lightweight garments like cotton or silk. “Just make sure to choose a color scheme that aligns with fall fashion and steer clear of pastels,” he said. For men, Kressley suggested layering a corduroy blazer and wool challis tie over lightweight elements to give your outfit that autumnal touch.

4. Swap Out Seersuckers

A staple piece for well-dressed spring racing fans, Kressley advised against wearing a seersucker suit for the Breeders’ Cup. “Instead of the typical seersucker or Lilly Pulitzer attire, opt for equestrian-inspired elements like a hacking jacket in a fall color or a blue blazer paired with Nantucket Reds,” he said.

5. Accessorize with Equestrian Flair

Take a chance with equestrian-themed accessories. (Eclipse Sportswire)

For a marquee equestrian event like the Breeders’ Cup, accessories are your best friend when it comes to incorporating equine-inspired elements. Kressley suggests adding equestrian-themed ties, pocket squares, handbags, clutches, and jewelry to your outfit. “For me personally, you can’t go too overboard with equestrian inspired elements,” he said, “I think it’s just so fun!”

6. Add Breeders’ Cup Accents

“I think it’s best to incorporate the Breeders’ Cup colors (purple and yellow) in accents like ties or headpieces,” Kressley said. He advised attendees to play in the color palette that works best for them, so if purple and yellow are not your colors, don’t feel like this is the time you should dress in them from head to toe. Instead, include small Breeders’ Cup accents that compliment your outfit as opposed to being the centerpiece of it.

7. Don’t Be Boring!

Express your unique style. (Eclipse Sportswire)

In Kressley’s opinion, the last thing you should feel is lackluster when you walk up to the entrance of Santa Anita Park this November. He encouraged attendees to express their individuality and embrace the rare opportunity the Breeders’ Cup provides to dress up. “Dressing boring is a faux pas for me since this event is really an extravagant, fun party where horses are the centerpiece,” he said. “Ultimately, every outfit you choose should express your personal style, so feel free to let your creativity shine through!”

So, as you prepare your outfit for the Breeders’ Cup World Championships at Santa Anita Park, remember Carson Kressley’s fashion wisdom. Embrace the fall vibes, add equestrian-inspired elements in moderation, and express your unique style while enjoying the excitement of horse racing in style. After all, as Kressley wisely puts it, "Events like this elevate how we express ourselves, and it should be joyful.”

About Carson Kressley: Breeders’ Cup ambassador Carson Kressley is a fashion luminary renowned for his impeccable taste and unparalleled expertise. With a charismatic presence and keen eye for style, he was one of the iconic "Fab Five" on Bravo’s groundbreaking series, “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy.” His decades-long career in fashion includes roles as a designer, TV personality, author, and red-carpet commentator. This year, Kressley collaborated with Ballard Designs to curate spaces in the Trophy Lounge and breakfast area at Santa Anita Park for Breeders’ Cup.

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