The Telegraph
| Sunday, February 3, 2013 |


A turf choice

Stay in vogue this season with stunning derby style tips from top designers. By Chitra Anand Papnai

  • Raghavendra Rathore's outdoor collection offers Barbour jackets that team well with riding breeches

It's that time of the year when fashionistas and male peacocks are stepping out in style and heading straight for the racecourses. The horses may be the cynosure of all eyes, but when Derby Day comes cantering around, a different kind of battle is being fought — that of making the best style statement of the season.

The derby, whether it's in Calcutta, Bangalore, Mumbai or Pune, is quite simply the biggest race of the season — usually with the biggest prize money too. It attracts everyone from hard-core racing fans to first-timers who snap up tickets just for the sheer derby experience. The swish set gravitates to the after-parties that are usually by-invitation-only.

Designer Raghavendra Rathore points out that over the years, the Indian Derby in Mumbai has grown to become one of the biggest sporting events in India and attracts the Who's Who of Mumbai. "The Indian Derby is now not only about sports but also about glamour and glitz," says Rathore. Mumbai-based designer Arjun Khanna adds that Derby Day — wherever it is in the world — is a time to make a huge style statement. The Indian scenario is no different.

"While the derby takes place in Delhi, Calcutta and Mumbai in January and February, Bangalore also hosts a summer derby in July apart from one in winter (January)," says designer Manoviraj Khosla.

A first-timer might need some help from the designers for the perfect derby look. For, Khosla says that it's nothing short of a crime to go under-dressed to the races. Jeans and tees are a big no and, on the other hand, an overdose of accessories and brightly-coloured shoes are out (the racing clubs also have strict dress codes in the members' enclosures). Bangalore designer Sanchita Ajjampur warns you 'never' to pair boots with cocktail dresses, shorts, Yoga pants and athletic gear for the derby.

  • Badged bandhgalas paired with slim pants feature prominently in Arjun Khanna's derby wear for men

Here's how you can get it right.

Dapper dudes

For men who want to reflect style and class, Rathore recommends sports coats. A sports coat is of a similar cut and length as a suit jacket but is worn on less formal occasions than a suit. It's usually designed to be worn on its own, (without matching trousers) with a pocket square, a polo shirt, khakis with boat shoes (a type of loafer with a flexible rubber heel and sole).

If you prefer light colours, a sports coat can be teamed with a light-coloured shirt and trousers. The look can be completed with saddle shoes. A crisp cotton shirt in a pastel shade paired with slim pants or denims also does the trick. "One can also opt for Jodhpur pants with a well-fitted T-shirt, keeping the colours soft pastels," says Rathore.

Also, for derby loving men, Rathore has designed an outdoor collection complete with wear-resistant Barbour jackets (waterproof waxed jackets) that are meant to be worn over riding breeches.

Similarly, Khanna says his insignia or badged bandhgala has always been a favourite and is usually worn with a cravat over jodhpurs or slim pants.

  • Manoviraj Khosla is all for flaunting floaty dresses in crepes and chiffons at the races

Khosla recommends shirts, jackets and suits for men in light and comfortable linen. "To add class and colour, men can pick up nice linen jackets or linen suits in pastels like pista green, light orange, beiges and light blue," says Khosla.

The Derby diva

Mumbai-based fashion designer Rina Shah says women are dressing better than ever before for the races. She says the most apt derby ensemble is an eye-catching dress teamed with a cool handbag and a stylish hat. "If you are not in a mood to wear a dress you can go for wide-leg flowy pants with a bright coloured top," she adds.

Ajjampur says that derby wear is all about fitted silhouettes and clean lines that are enhanced by playful details like Peter Pan collars and round neck tops. Ankle-skimming cigarette pants paired with polo neck knits and fitted shift dresses are the stuff of derby.

  • Rina Shah's derby line includes chic accessories like thigh-high boots, smart bags and belts with horse motifs

Khosla's advice to women is to go for well-tailored dresses that are not too voluminous. The fabrics of the moment are light like crepes and chiffons. "Fruity colours like mint green, peachy pink and canary yellow do well for the races," says Rathore.

Accessories are king

Accessories can make or break the look. And by the way a nifty derby hat and designer shades are a must. Khosla recommends wide-brimmed or floppy hats decorated with flowers and feathers for the ladies. Hard felt bowler hats and Fedoras (in soft felt) in grey and brown work well for men.

"Women can opt for pearls to complete a graceful look," says Rathore. Men can add a splash of colour by opting for a coloured tie and leather belt.

Shah has created a special derby line complete with handbags and belts with horse motifs as well as breeches and dresses with leather trims. She also offers thigh-length boots which one can wear with breeches. "When it comes to shoes, wear comfortable shoes like wedges rather than high heels," she adds.

Ajjampur says that ornate and metallic finishes add extravagance to footwear and can enhance the look. Footwear with ankle straps as a prominent feature is also in vogue. And what goes perfectly with the mood and atmosphere is coloured fur and soft textured hats.