Hats off to casual fashion at races

Preakness Stakes

May 16, 2004|By Sloane Brown | Sloane Brown,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

When it came to fashion at this year's Preakness, traditional little suits seem to have hit the trail. Instead, flowery sundresses blossomed all over Pimlico's Corporate Village - thanks to a hot sun that returned to the race day after a two-year absence. And to the fashion gods, who are dictating a less formal, even flippy, attitude this spring.

Kathy Sheets, 50, owner of a Bel Air cleaning service, was a good example. She wore a blue and yellow Lilly Pulitzer dress and thong sandals, which sported matching flowers and kitten heels.

Fashion masters are saying this year's hot color is orange. But one orange-bedecked guest - Lori Spry, 39, of Carlsbad, Calif. - claims she was the trendsetter.

"Orange is my favorite color. My house is orange. My dishes are orange. I am solely responsible for bringing back the color!" she asserted. In her orange rayon knit top, orange handbag, Jones New York scarf and flouncy cotton print skirt, she did the hue proud.

And then there was pink. "I [even] had an old man on the plane yesterday tell me that pink was in," said Jill Moody, 29, of Dublin, Ohio, as she described reactions to her baby pink straw hat.

Bel Air's Julie Acker, 33, found her pink hat at Nordstrom - to match her rosy embroidered linen sundress, pink crocodile slides and fuchsia handbag. It didn't matter to her that pink was the new black. "I just love the color," she explained.

There was one other noticeable fashion shift this year. Gone was the little black dress. Black and white was the new fashion basic. It was everywhere - giving its wearers a crisp summer look, even if the day's humid, high-80s weather made them feel slightly wilted.

For men, seersucker seemed to be making something of a comeback. Constellation Energy's Milt Branson, 55, donned a black and white seersucker jacket with his black slacks, while WJZ-TV's Marty Bass, 51, went whole hog with a complete blue and white seersucker suit. Dr. John Rybock, 59, had run out to Hecht's yesterday morning to pick up his yellow and white seersucker shirt. He paired it with black slacks in keeping with the Preakness yellow-and-black color scheme, a popular theme.

It is nice to know that while some traditions may be changing, one Preakness custom has not. Hats abounded, in all sorts of colors and styles, many embellished with flowers. And just enough that were over-the-top to keep the people-watching almost as much fun as the races.

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