Jean Shrimpton the ‘it’ girl of the 1960’s turned up at the most prestigious horse race in the country in…….. wait for it….. a dress five inches above the knee, NO hat, NO gloves and NO stockings!
The fashion company Orlon had hired her in 1965 to present prizes at the event, didn’t really brief her on her assignment and shock horror (compared to today) did not even provide her with a wardrobe, instead opting to send her some fabric which she could use for outfits.
She was left to design what she wanted and had them made up. She hired a dressmaker, Colin Rolf, who discovered there was not sufficient fabric for her designs. He then said, “Oh, it doesn’t matter. Make them a bit shorter – no one’s going to notice.” However, notice they did!
"The day of the races was a hot one, so I didn't bother to wear any stockings. My legs were still brown from the summer, and as the dress was short it was hardly formal. I had no hat or gloves with me, for the very good reason that I owned neither. I went downstairs cheerfully from my hotel room, all regardless of what was to come."
To quote a newspaper of the time…
The shockwaves were still rumbling around fashionable Melbourne last night when Jean Shrimpton -- The Shrimp -- swore she hadn't realised she was setting off such an outraged upheaval at Flemington on Saturday.
"I don't see what was wrong with the way I looked," she said. "I wouldn't have dressed differently for a race meeting anywhere in the world.'
For my money, she looked tremendous -- but Flemington was not amused. Fashion-conscious Derby Day race goers were horrified. 'Insulting' ... 'a disgrace' ... 'how dare she?' ... ! If the skies had rained acid not a well-dressed woman there would have given The Shrimp an umbrella.
Society was vitriolic with the below also being said…
"If Miss Shrimpton wants to wear skirts four inches above the knee in London, that's her business, but it's not done here. I feel we do know so much better than Miss Shrimpton ... we all dress correctly here."
The British press also had their go reacting angrily to the Australian criticism of Jean, as shown by the London Evening News, which said that "... surrounded by sober draped silks and floral nylons, ghastly tulle hats and fur stoles, she was like a petunia in an onion patch."
The actual day of the cup being run Ms. Shrimpton bent towards conservatism and public opinion wore a three-piece grey suit with an ice-blue straw Breton hat, beige gloves and stockings, and a chocolate-brown handbag.