Style + Ask The Edit

Ask Belle: Gold Cup 2012

On the first Saturday in May, the streets of Georgetown empty and D.C. denizens travel to a field in the middle of Virginia for the Gold Cup races.  And like many events here in the Mid-Atlantic, the purpose of this steeplechase is to sip champagne in the sunshine while seeing and being seen.  So here are some tips on what to wear.

Choose Cotton.  Gold Cup day is either really hot or rainy and muggy.  There seems to be no in between.  But whatever the weather, you will be happier in light and breezy cotton.  So don’t be the girl in the satin dress sweating up a storm.  Speaking of perspiration…

V is for Vodka. To keep from smelling like you have Mint Julep dripping from your pores, fight alcohol with alcohol by spraying your clothes with vodka solution.  This is an old theatre trick that should keep you, and your clothes, from smelling like a gin soaked trollop.  

Mix one part vodka (swill will do), and three parts water in a spray bottle.  Spray clothes inside and out the night before, let air dry. 

Before you get dressed, apply a good quality, unscented deodorant to your underarms.  Then, spray your chest, inner thighs, behind your knees, and your back with unscented aerosol deodorant. I say unscented because after several hours of sweating, scented deodorants develop a cloying, musty smell that lingers like a lobbyist at an open bar fundraiser.

On Repeat.  One last point before we talk about what to wear: do not go out and buy a new dress from J.Crew, Anthropologie, Zara, ModCloth or Banana Republic to wear to Gold Cup.  Why?  Because dozens of girls will do the exact same thing, and you’ll wind up in a copycat dress.  So if you are at all self-conscious of being one girl out of twenty in J.Crew’s adorable eyelet dress, you are better off buying from another retailer or recycling something from your own closet.


Dress: Ax Paris Skater Dress ($36)

From the Left, Hat: Aspinal of London Straw Hat ($120) Purse: Kate Spade Charlize ($395) Shoes: Vaneli Wedges ($128) Sunglasses: Beacon Sunglasses ($98) Earrings: Pearl Studs ($48) Ring: Monocle Ring ($100) Ring: Kate Spade Ring ($60)

Polyvore Set Here.

For Gold Cup. I like to choose a skirt or dress that pulls away from the body vs. hugs the body.  Sometimes a nice breeze can keep you cool if you’re not wrapped up in a sausage casing. I also think choosing a traditional sundress is always a safe bet.  I wouldn’t dive head first into the Lilly Pulitzer pile (unless that’s your look), but a floral, dotted or crisp white summer dress is an appropriate and simple choice.

Here, I chose to add a hat.  First, off there are few occasions where you can wear a hat, so why not take advantage?  Also, I don’t want the skin on my face exposed to the sun for six straight hours.  I may love a little tan, but I’m not crazy.

As for the shoes, as we discussed in the wedding post on Monday, if you’re going to be on turf, you need a wedge or a flat.  I like these patent wedges because you can wipe mud and muck off of them. 

The jewelry is pretty low key.  I never wear anything to a crowded outdoor event that you can’t afford to lose.  Just a good rule of thumb.  And of course a pair of slightly retro sunnies to protect your eyes.

I would wear my hair up and then pin the hat to my head upon arrival.  Best to have your locks off of your neck in the heat.  And I’d make sure to invest in a foundation with SPF and a good quality humidity-battling primer like Clinique City Block. 

Final Thoughts.  Either grab a seat on the bus or get a designated driver.  In 2006, a school friend lost his job after he was busted for DUI on the way back from Gold Cup.  Not a good end to the weekend. 

Also, if you’re a lightweight, know your limit.  The girl puking in the bushes is remembered for the wrong reasons.  Plus, this is D.C., you never know who might be watching you.


Leave a Reply to Charleigh · cancel comment


  1. Eliza says:

    Gold Cup, that is! Not the outfit:)

    November 30, -0001/Reply
  2. LL says:

    Do you have any suggestions or tutorials for a) pinning hair up under a hat (I have thick wavy hair 2 inches past my shoulders, and have trouble getting it to stay up) and b) pinning a hat to one's hair? Thanks!

    April 25, 2012/Reply
  3. KC says:

    On the lightweight note: Even if you don't consider yourself a lightweight, drinks in the sun are much more potent than your typical Saturday night. The heat will dehydrate you a bit quicker, so hydrate with plenty of water too.

    April 25, 2012/Reply
  4. Ellie says:

    Thank you Belle!

    April 25, 2012/Reply
  5. Stephanie says:

    Belle, have you ever bought an item from AX Paris? I love that polka dot dress – though I'm not thinking of it for Gold Cup but instead for a beach wedding rehearsal dinner. I made it to the US site but it's unclear how sizing works and there are no measurements for the dress. Thoughts?

    April 25, 2012/Reply
  6. BB says:

    @LL I also have thick, wavy hair, about your length. I like to put my hair in a french twist and then use a long (mine is five inches) hat pin to anchor my hat to my head. You can buy vintage hat pins in etsy for about ten bucks. The hat pin goes in at an angle, the closer to your scalp, the more secure your hat will be. If your hat pin doesn't come with a cap, use one of those clear rubber earring backings. Good luck!

    April 25, 2012/Reply
  7. Eliza says:

    Great look for Gold Cup, Belle. It's come a long way since the early years for both better and worse.

    April 25, 2012/Reply
  8. Charleigh says:

    Thanks for the Gold Cup post Belle! Can't wait!!

    April 26, 2012/Reply