You guys, this ain't no Kentucky Derby, it's Ascot. Royal Ascot, in fact. A genteel affair that's as British as Sunday roasts and high tea with the Queen (seen entering the Royal Enclosure in her carriage, second photo). It doesn't get any more British than horse races and irony-free head-wear and I'm so pleased I was given the amazing opportunity to take part in this 301 year-old tradition.
On Saturday morning, I put on my knee-length dress* and home-made hat,** took David's arm and we made our way to Ascot. A very generous friend*** invited us to join his party in the Royal Enclosure which meant we were far removed from the majority of the fashion monstrosities that are just as much a part of the Ascot tradition as the horse racing. Luckily, there are pictures!
As you can imagine, I was ever so charmed by the clothes- especially the morning dress worn by the men (Swoon City!). If an American man were ever required to wear tails and a top hat to a sporting event, they'd pick up their guns and start shouting about Civil Liberties faster than you can say George Washington, which is precisely why the majority of men at the Kentucky Derby look like they're in an Easter-egg hued parody of Boardwalk Empire, complete with unlit cigars, clip-on bow ties, and ill-fitting bowler hats. Though there was much moaning about the restrictive dress code this year, the crowd at Ascot was [for the most part] wonderfully put together and very handsome, indeed!
And speaking of handsome, how 'bout those horses! I've never been one of those horse-obsessed girls with notebooks full of pencil-drawn horsies, their manes blowing majestically in the wind as they gallop across a plane or along a steep embankment that falls into the sea. That being said, I'm not immune to the power and grace of a beautifully built horse and I definitely fell a little bit in love with a temperamental grey stallion that lost me five quid and taught me to never again bet on a horse just because it's pretty. And when they race, oh! how your heart does beat, especially if you have good money on a horse. The horses are so strong, so fast, I imagine that being a jokey is the closest we'll ever get as humans to feeling we can fly.
Horse racing has gotten into my blood and like a junkie I'm already searching for my next fix. I've spent the last two days daydreaming about picnic lunches and steeplechases, of bigger hats, bolder dresses, and sunny racetracks, of horses nibbling apples from the palm of my hand. Maybe, just maybe, I'm a horse girl after all. A horse racing girl, I mean.
*It's by Michael Kors, for those who are interested.
**I didn't make the hat, but I did spray-paint it black and hand-sew beads and feathers to the back, which warrants some props, I think.