"Posh, Oh My Gosh." Well, it's about to be that time. The annual spectacle which is the biggest horse racing event in South Africa, if not Africa, is imminent. The Vodacom Durban July. And this year's theme is, as the title suggests, "Posh, Oh My Gosh". How does one begin to interpret this directive? I can't think of anything else to confuse gentlemen even further. The whole tagline seems to be suited and geared towards women.
The theme for this year is interpreted as very elegant, chic, stylish and classical. Inspiration is to be drawn from Royal Ascot in England, Longchamp in France and the Melbourne Cup in Australia. This can be too much for the average gentleman who relies on a suit to rescue him at all times. Royal Ascot is incredibly fastidious and strict, something South Africans could never conform to. Where would the fun be if one couldn't dress to their style, preference and taste? Royal Ascot is on another level, simply because the Royals are in attendance.
There are three enclosures or admission areas and each have a dress code. The Royal Enclosure requires that men wear full morning dress. A morning coat, a waistcoat and tie and black shoes. The Grandstand area requires just a suit with a shirt and tie, although morning dress is also permissible.
The Silver Ring or Heath Enclosure doesn't require any kind of formal dress, although, it has to be smart. So, as strict as it is, there is an opportunity for every gent to dress according to his preferences, bearing in mind that his dress will determine where he is admitted and not.
More can be drawn from Longchamp which takes place in Paris. Although there is no stipulated dress code being presentable, stylish and classy are encouraged, it is France after all. The Melbourne Cup bears a striking resemblance to the Durban July. There isn't a strict rule to wear morning dress, however, some attendees choose to wear morning dress. A suit and tie is usually appropriate. Even the Royals are known to dress 'down' for this event. The Prince of Wales eschews morning dress and opts for his trademark, a double breasted suit.
In the South African context how do you think you are going to interpret this year's theme? I have a few ideas, such as: a three-piece suit taking on winter patterns with lighter fabrics since this event takes place on a warm winter day. Heavy-weight fabrics are going to cause you to perspire and that leads to discomfort. So anything tweed, pure wool, flannel, should be avoided. I like the idea of a glenplaid/ prince of wales check three piece suit in a worsted wool fabric. Another style to consider is mismatched trousers and a jacket or a three-piece suit with a double breasted waistcoat. Now classy, for me, would be a double breasted; mismatched or not, that is your preference. Generally, winter patterns are classified as your houndstooth, herringbone, glenplaid/ prince of wales check, windowpane check, and certain variations of stripes such as chalk stripes. So, gentlemen, you needn't be confused, perplexed or lost. There is a variety of styles and fabrics you can choose from to prepare yourself for the July. Be classy.