As I was getting ready for my first Formula 1 race in Valencia, Spain last summer, I got a text from the other lady on our trip: “What the hell do you wear to one of these things?” I remember thinking, “Oh my god, I have no idea."
As I Googled “F1 Fashion” and “F1 what to wear,” the screen populated with images of Beyoncé in a skin tight racing suit, affluent older women dressed to the nines and heaps of super models in red miniskirts holding racing flags. I was stumped.
As a fashion savvy girl I had no idea what to wear. I hadn’t brought any red with me and certainly didn’t want to show up dressed for a gala. What was a girl to do? Worse, we were VIP Suite holders for Ferrari, meaning I was under extra pressure to pull together a great outfit. I texted my friend back, “Your guess is as good as mine. The jury’s out on this one.”
My three-day experience at the European Grand Prix in Valencia was sometimes a painful learning experience about fashion etiquette, i.e. gold Jimmy Choo stilettos are a no-no. So, we at CultureMap thought it might be helpful to discuss the fashion dos and don’ts for the upcoming United States Grand Prix (USGP).
If you’re thinking of dressing like Ricky Bobby’s smokin’ hot wife from Talladega Nights, please let me advise you against it (unless it’s a racing suit). Formula 1 is a high-end affair, where women flaunt their style and sophistication over their sex appeal. The glitz and glamour of F1 is a far cry from the crop tops and hot pants of Nascar. Women dress to enjoy the race and to be with their friends.
Here are our top Style Tips for Formula 1:
1. Large handbags are forbidden. F1 does not allow camera bags, coolers, backpacks, etc. This is not a Nascar event you can bring “gear” to. The international crowd keeps it simple and light. If you can’t fit your essentials into a wrist wallet or a modest pochette, you better practice packing! Leave your giant Louis, Gucci and Prada totes at home.
2. Dress comfortably. You’ll never see a woman at an F1 event awkwardly huffing and puffing up the stairs because her shoes look like torture devices. Women at F1 are stylish but always comfortable. For example, you can wear a neon print mini, but balance it out with cute wedges and a simple top. Do not show up in stilettos and a bandage dress — people will think you’re an employee.
3. Build your wardrobe up to the day of the race. The first day of F1 is a practice session, which calls for casual attire. Wearing a fitted Ferrari tee with some high waisted jeans and boots is a great practice day look. Baseball caps (if you can pull them off) are also popular. On qualifying day, girls typically dress more formally, mixing it up with maxi skirts or sundresses. Save your favorite outfit for race day.
4. Event colors are red, black, yellow and white, so plan accordingly. If you’re going to dress in racing colors, make it look original. There are a million girls at the race wearing head to toe red and white, so you’ll need to get creative. Try yellow jeans and a Red Bull racing jersey or a white sundress with black and red accessories. But please do us all a favor and don’t show up in checkered print anything, no matter how cute you think it is, you will look like a human flag.
5. If you’re going to wear a racing suit on the day of the Grand Prix, make sure it's fitted. Girls in racing suits can be super cute, but if you buy a suit online make sure the dimensions don’t make you look like the Michelin man. Not a flattering look on anybody.
6. Leave your puppy at home. F1 does not allow pets or large handbags for the same reason. You know who you are.
7. Metallics. Women at F1 love to wear shades of gold, silver, bronze or anything that says, “I have money.” Do not go overboard with this and show up looking so "blinged out" that you could be mistaken for a Cartier advertisement.
8. Lip stains are your best friend. F1 is an all day event spent drinking, eating and socializing. Therefore it's best to take a practical approach with your makeup and not have to reapply 20 times. Your lips will stay Ferrari red all day if you stain 'em and leave 'em.
9. Prepare for the weather. Mid-November in Texas can be hot or cold, wet or dry, and the weather can change from one to the other in minutes. Bring a small wrap or windbreaker and save yourself from being miserable.
10. Hair + Wind = Dealbreaker. For some reason, there always seems to be a windy spell surrounding F1. Be wise and style your hair to be wind resistant. Mother Nature will likely ruin anything resembling a prom queen blowout or beehive.
11. (Bonus!) Be edgy, be colorful. Just because you dress comfortably doesn’t mean you have to compromise on style. The women who attend Formula 1 races are from all over the world and are incredibly fashion conscious. They are classic, elegant and like to push the envelope when it comes to their wardrobe. Get your F1 inspiration from overseas and you’ll look like a natural.