The Castle Tankard, Africa’s oldest sponsored race and Zimbabwe’s finest in terms of stakes and class of horses is on today. This annual fiesta brings together the best thoroughbreds in the prestigious game, great personalities and an awesome atmosphere.
While the winning horses matter because that is what the whole race is about, an almost equally important question is; “Who will steal the best dressed crown?”
The Tankard race has become both a race and a fashion parade where style and elegance takes centre stage. This follows the deliberate redirection of the spectator fashion style in 2012 when Delta brand manager Patricia Murambinda created a marketing drive to encourage people to dress up for the race:
“This year, we want people to dress smartly and fashionably for the Castle Tankard just like they do when attending weddings and fancy occasions. We want them to wear the type of clothes you see at shows like the Durban July,” she said.
Delta Beverages even carried out a roadshow with models giving the public an idea of what was expected of them. Prior to that most people had dressed casually with jeans being the cornerstone.
The Durban July is well-known as a fashion show case, especially for the SA celebrity and rich women who carefully plan their outfits for the media picture pages.
On the international scene it is of course the Royal Ascot race which takes the cake when it comes to fashion and horses.
With prizes of over £5,5 million this is the richest horse race in the world so of course it attracts the best dressers. Although for the women the emphasis is on the hats which seem to grow more ridiculously fancy, weird and wonderful with each passing year.
This year’s Castle Tankard is themed “Pefection In Motion” and attendees are expected to show all their glory in the red and gold, the colours of the dress theme.
We spoke to some fashion gurus, Priscilla Chigariro-Gessen, Craig Zoowie and Parade Ring TV presenter Karen Tselentis for their Tankard race day fashion tips – perhaps they might come in handy before you step out today.
“The races should ignite a sense of luxury, flair, class and indulgence. The rule of thumb in fashion sees no bounds as sometimes what looks good on one guy may look considerably different on the next,” says VIP Hosting grooming consultant Craig Zoowie.
“It is however crucial for all men to look their impeccable best at all times, we may not admit it but we do dress to impress others, from our bosses to the ladies and the business partners.
“For the conservative, select a well fitted suit; team it up with a crisp white shirt with tie and of course a timepiece as part of your look will always mean ‘business’. Go for suits made from the best fabrics that will allow you to breath,” adds Craig.
“Your type of shoes will make or break your look and ladies will always check out your watch, belt and shoes. For such an event let the denims and sneakers take a rest.
Zimbabwe Fashion Week founder Priscilla Chigariro-Gessen agrees on the footwear making or breaking a man.
“The shoes are the defining element of a man’s race day attire.
“Fashionable and stylish men will wear the saddle or spectator shoe. For those not so daring, a brown or white suede Oxford shoe will do perfectly,” she said.
“A must for men, will be to pair their tailored suit with a brightly coloured tie or bow tie. Daring fashionistas may opt to wear a cravat or scarf instead, also in a bright colour or print,” advises Priscilla on men’s options.
For the beautiful ladies Priscilla says, “It should definitely be a dress, preferably one in tea length as this is the perfect length for any race day.”
In agreement with Priscilla’s dress tips, Borrowdale park Parade Ring presenter Karen Tselentis emphasised that true style should take the elements within its stride.
“Weather dependent, I will most probably wear a smart dress or perhaps a tailored suit if it’s cold and add a great scarf accessory.”
On top of studying the race card and visiting the horses at the stables and tipping winners Karen herself has to look good for the camera, “The big races are a great opportunity for us to dress up and look good!” Karen said.
She believes in heels, but says that should not translate into unsuitable footwear that looks ridiculous.
“Heels of course are elegant and smart, however they do sink into the grass so stylish wedges are usually the most suitable.”
She also advises fellow ladies to be prepared for any eventuality. “I always have a pair of ballet flats in my beautiful “PLG” leather hand bag, specifically for saddling horses and then I switch back to heels” she shared.
Karen also emphasised on the gilding of a person’s crowning glory.
“Head gear is so elegant for ladies and my personal favourite being a fascinator; this can transform your outfit straight away. Head wear for men is super trendy too and gives a debonair edge to any well-dressed man,”
The cardinal rule when dressing for any occasion, is to be respectful of the function, be classy and most importantly be yourself.
Now you can go ahead and enjoy the 2015 Castle Tankard race day in the style at Borrowdale Park shouting home your favorite equestrian heroes from the grand stands! Entertainment will be provided by Sulumani Chimbetu, Winky D and Tocky Vibez.