What the women of Liverpool will be wearing for the Grand National, from hair jewels to bright colours


Some women start looking for their outfits and book hair appointments for the big day months in advance

Some women start looking for their outfits and book hair appointments for the big day months in advance

Fashion in Liverpool is on a high according to local business owners, as the city heads into its Grand National weekend.

The Jockey Club sets no formal dress code for race days at Aintree, yet over the years an unspoken one has developed. If Ascot is known for its pretty pastels, and Cheltenham for its heritage checks, then Aintree is the bolder sister – doused in bright colours and standout headwear, bodycon dresses and towering heels.

Ladies Day, on Friday, “isn’t like any other race day,” according to a Jockey Club spokesperson. “This one is for the ‘here to be seen’ers’ and the ‘go glamorous or go home’ers’.”

There has, historically, been a tabloid attempt “to make a mockery of those daring to have a good time” at Aintree, according to the Liverpool Echo writer Catherine Murphy. In 2019, she wrote an open letter to the Daily Mail.

It is true that attendees at this particular racing event have been picked on in the press – paparazzi photographers hover, deliberately snapping unsuspecting revellers in unflattering poses to goad the comment box.

Racegoers arrive for Ladies' Day at Aintree Racecourse in Liverpool, April 2023Racegoers arrive for Ladies' Day at Aintree Racecourse in Liverpool, April 2023

Go glamorous or go home: Racegoers arrive for Ladies’ Day at Aintree Racecourse in Liverpool, April 2023 – AP

But this year, on the other side of Liverpool’s Eurovision success, the city’s racing set is keenly putting style and fun at the top of its agenda. Aintree is worth some £60 million to the local economy, according to a Liverpool Business School report in 2023. With outfits to buy and blow dries to book, fashion and beauty businesses take a fair share of that spend.

The Grand National dress code: ‘Go glamorous or go home’

“Aintree is always a carefree and exciting occasion in which the whole city is galvanised,” Justine Mills, owner of the city’s destination boutique Cricket, tells The Telegraph. “It’s an opportunity for people to forget about the day-to-day, feel good about themselves and embrace the fun. It’s also a great time for local business, particularly hospitality and hotels, and there’s many new openings in the city. After the fantastic showcase of Liverpool through Eurovision last year, the city has a great energy and there’s definitely opportunities for more.”

Mills’ boutique, which opened in 1991, has this year seen clients preparing months in advance. Finding the perfect race day outfit – one that stands out on the stands – is a priority for customers.

Ladies Day at the Grand NationalLadies Day at the Grand National

Aintree is an opportunity for people to feel good about themselves and embrace the fun, says Mills. Pictured: guests at Ladies Day in April 2023 – David Rose

Outfit ideas: ‘Pale blue and bright yellow will be big this year’

“The brand Self-Portrait ticks a lot of boxes,” says Mills, highlighting what’s been selling. “It’s chic yet practical for whatever the British weather might throw at us. This season’s Zimmermann collection has a more refined palette and is always a go-to come spring. Valentino, too, is one of our top brands for event dressing.”

Injecting some colour and optimism, Mills points out, is vital – whether that’s by carrying a Bottega Veneta Mini Hop bag in a popping hue, or dressing all over for the weather you want, rather than the weather you may get. Pale blue and bright yellow are two colours she’s backing as winners this year.

“There’s nothing better than having aspirations of Capri and Positano and wearing Dolce & Gabbana,” Mills muses. “A glass of rosé on the stands in one of their iconic silhouettes.”

Injecting some colour and optimism is vital, says MillsInjecting some colour and optimism is vital, says Mills

Injecting some colour and optimism is vital, says Mills – David Rose

It isn’t all about wearing something new, or expensive (River Island is the formal sponsor of Ladies Day, and there will be plenty of high-street looks in the crowds too). Mills says that this year, her customers have been buying with longevity in mind and bringing old wardrobe favourites into the store, for advice on how to update them.

“Our personal shoppers are actually assisting customers repurposing looks with key accessories,” she explains. “There’s generally a more sustainable attitude to dressing and buying clothes.”

Beauty tips: ‘Hair styles need to last through temperamental weather’

When it comes to beauty, attendees at Aintree do go the extra mile. Customers at Lisa Rhead’s salon in Childwall claimed their appointment times back in January.

“We are fully booked up and we open early at 7am for events like the races as everyone has to be out early,” says Rhead.

Her customers typically book a session in the lead-up to the event and have their colours and cuts done, as well as styling and blow dries on the race day itself.

So what are Rhead’s clients asking for this time around? “I’m predicting a lot of hair accessories that aren’t hats,” she says. “Ultra feminine bows, chunky headbands and delicate clips and hair jewels, too. You have to take the whole outfit, and any hat, into consideration in order to think about the hair look.”

Aintree is an opportunity to experiment with colour and try something differentAintree is an opportunity to experiment with colour and try something different

‘People like to experiment more when it comes to the races,’ says Rhead – David Rose

Rhead says that glamour in Liverpool is a given, but for an occasion such as Aintree her regulars do like to up the ante.

“Women generally in Liverpool do always put the effort in, and get regular blow dries,” she says. “Clients always want their hair to look the best, and for the style to last.”

“But I think people do like to experiment more when it comes to the races,” she adds. “It’s an occasion. My clients are typically going bolder and brighter with their outfit, to try something different, so they want the hairstyle to work with that.”

Rhead confirms that those clients who are going to more than one of the three Aintree days will return to the salon each morning.

“We do have clients who attend at least two days out of the three – it’s considered hardcore if you can do three days in heels,” she says. “Those clients will come back to me each day to get their hair done again. It’s a different day, so that means a different outfit, and a whole new look.”

Hot tips: Trending at Aintree

Silk cotton dress, £275, Me + EmSilk cotton dress, £275, Me + Em

Silk cotton dress, £275, Me + Em

Silk cotton dress, £275, Me + Em

Guipure lace midi dress, £400, Self-PortraitGuipure lace midi dress, £400, Self-Portrait

Guipure lace midi dress, £400, Self-Portrait

Guipure lace midi dress, £400, Self-Portrait

Draped sleeveless midi dress, £65, & Other StoriesDraped sleeveless midi dress, £65, & Other Stories

Draped sleeveless midi dress, £65, & Other Stories

Draped sleeveless midi dress, £65, & Other Stories



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