Today is Derby Day here in the UK. Whatever you think about horse racing - and I have very mixed feelings about it (from the horses point of view AND from the point of view of the thousands who bet more than they can afford in the vain hopes of winning a fortune - haven't they every noticed how rich the bookmakers are?)
Television coverage starts at something like 1pm although the actual race is not until 4pm so we have interminable less important races, looking at what the posh folk are wearing, taking a close look at the horses etc.
If you are in the position of being able to go into the enclosure then a certain type of dress is de rigeur. This got me thinking about dress codes and how in most walks of life they seem to have almost disappeared. The days when you had to take posh clothes to eat in restaurants when you went on holiday seem to have disappeared in all but the most exclusive establishments (and those awful cruise liners when you need a different outfit for each night.)
In the country of course there is the Barbour brigade who frequent shoots, point-to-points and country fairs dressed in lovat green expensive outfits (the men mostly although the women seem to almost wear the same uniform).
At the Auction Mart on a Friday here in our little town, where the real countrymen gather to buy and sell their stock - or look at what someone else is paying or getting paid for= the dress code is rather less formal. Wellington boots are pretty essential as you never know what you are likely to tread in. Trousers need to be tuckable into said boots but can be held up with a twitched- in belt or - in an emergency - baler band. (orange seems to be the preferred colour up here). Heads are for caps - often rather dirty, particularly if you are a dairyman and spend time with your head (and cap) pressed into the side of a cow. In winter the cap often gives way to a thick woolly hat pulled down well over the ears. Anyone who went to the Mart dressed in posh clothes would certainly be viewed with suspicion that he or she was 'playing' at farming.
I don't think corduroys are worn as much as they used to be. Roger Deakin in his book 'Notes from Walnut Tree Farm', which I have just finished reading, says of corduroys - "I now realise that all these English country gentlemen outfits (of brown corduroys) were designed to make you look as much like a ploughed field as possible."
But I have wandered away from today's Derby - sorry about that. The Queen is an ardent racing fan and her horse Carlton House is favourite to win today. It is the one big race she has never won. Wouldn't it be nice if her horse won today, whatever you think about horseracing?