Last updated on Jan 19th, 2021 at 11:28 am

Rebecca Dodd gives us the rundown on the high (and low) fashion spotted at the J&B Met.

I began my weekend of high society at the Table Bay Hotel for a swish pre-J&B Met cocktail party.

A fitting precursor to what is always a day of high fashion and mingling with the cream of South African society’s crop, the party gave everyone a head start on getting their glam on!

We sipped wine on the balcony of the Atlantic Room, overlooking the V&A Waterfront harbour, were serenaded by Lindiwe Suttle, and eyed everyone’s outfits, wondering what they’d putting on the following day.

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Rubbing shoulders with the who’s who is likely to develop into a body complex

Miss SA Bokang Montjane (main picture) was resplendent in a mint green cocktail dress with a feathered skirt – she definitely got my vote for pre-best dressed!

Jo-Ann Strauss and her infuriatingly perky bum were enveloped in a tiny houndstooth mini dress, and Liezel van der Westhuizen’s Amazonian legs made an appearance beneath a bright, short bubble dress.

I don’t have any major body issues, but hanging around these women can’t be good for anyone’s self esteem!

Celebrating normal women, warts and all

If you do need a confidence boost, however, you might find it more readily at the J&B Met itself.

Thankfully the beauty queens and TV presenters are all safely tucked away on the other side of the race track where there’s aircon and the riffraff can’t pester them – making way for a bevy of normal beauties in the area where the rest of us plebs get to hang out!

I saw women of all shapes and sizes flaunting what they’ve got (some in abundance) without fear of judgement.

For some, a little self-consciousness would have been useful – a number of girls seem to interpret any theme the Met throws at them as ‘get away with wearing as little as possible’, with the result that several were wandering around wearing lace dresses with no lining and in some cases, no underwear.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for embracing and showing off what your mama gave ya, but there is a line, and some of these women like to stomp all over it before mincing across to the other side.

What’s in vogue at the races

There are many, many women who do get it right though! I saw a lot of lace, and a lot of it worn tastefully!

Take note, if you’re planning on watching the BMW International Polo on 26 February, or hitting the Durban July: extravagant hats, fascinators and headbands made multiple appearances, with oversized fake flowers clearly being the headgear du jour, in keeping with the theme of ‘Larger than Life’.

Some of them can be a bit OTT, though. I’m sorry, Liezel (left), but it looks like a colourful bird died flamboyantly atop your head.

The races are always a great opportunity to rock a beautiful maxi dress, but given the heat of the day, many women opted for shorter cocktail dresses.

Every colour, from black to brights, pastels and whites was represented, but I definitely noticed a trend towards romantic muted pinks, cream and white lace.

Some ladies made the cardinal error of choosing to spend their day tottering around while their skyscraper heels sunk into the grass and mud that is EVERYWHERE at Kenilworth Race Course, while the rest of us rocking pumps, flat sandals and wedges smiled smugly to ourselves.

In keeping with theme

There are, of course, many people who take the theme very seriously! Both of the Met’s costume competitions are for couples: Most Elegant Couple and Best Dressed Couple, so I spotted a number of couples with co-ordinating outfits.

Some of these costumes looked like they were plundered from my school theatre wardrobe, but it all fit in with the theme, so it worked.

Some of the Met attendees seemed to be delighted with the opportunity just to dress up – regardless of what the theme was. I saw a trio of Neanderthals and, shortly thereafter, a couple in old Wild Western getup.

I loved the look of these gorgeous ladies (YFM twins Hlelo and Ntando Masina) in their sorbet-coloured dresses. Just goes to show, you can still respect a theme without looking like a clown! Then again, they were on the panel judging the costume competitions, so I suppose they had to set a standard.

What about the boys?

Although the men at these events tend to be outshone by their partners, I saw some quirky interpretations of the theme, including absurdly tall top hats and oversized ties, glasses and bowties.

The Met definitely makes for a fun day out and I relish any opportunity to put on a dress and some bling!

One thing I will say, however, is that the price tag for even a general admissions ticket keeps going up, but what you get for your money remains pretty much the same.

I think the Met could take a leaf out of the Queen’s Plate‘s book and offer all its guests access to the after party as a part of their ticket. 

For more pictures from the event, click here.