Whether you’re dressing up for Ascot, Newmarket, Cheltenham or Aintree, the race season offers a great excuse to show off your finest attire. Whilst dress codes aren’t always mandatory, it’s a fun and traditional part of the race day experience, and you’ll feel underdressed if you don’t make an effort. These tips will help you look great and feel comfortable at the races this season.
Race Season Style Guide for Ladies
Many people associate ladies race fashion with outrageous hats, but there’s much more to race day style than the millinery. Most race meetings have an official Ladies Day, when female guests are encouraged to wear their finest attire and compete to be crowned as ‘best dressed’, with the winner picking up some impressive prizes. However, it’s not all about Ladies Day: dress codes apply for the rest of the meetings as well. Here’s what the ladies should be wearing.
Flat season race meets tend to take place in the summer, so women should opt for cool, elegant dresses in bright, fresh colours. The races ooze class and sophistication, so you should too: aim for a longer, demure skirt length – ideally on or just below the knee – and ensure that your dress has straps or that you have a wrap or shrug to cover up a strapless number.
Source: The Mirror.co.uk
The importance of the dress code depends on which meet you’re attending, so check before you go. For example, Ascot has a very strict dress code for the Royal Enclosure and the Queen Anne Enclosure, which can’t be ignored, so your dress needs to be extra stylish.
The jumps season primarily falls during the winter months and is therefore more relaxed in terms of fashion, as preparing for bad weather is important. Practical but still smart outerwear is the order of the day, with layers underneath so you can adapt to changing temperatures depending if you’re inside or outside.
Choose fine knits to avoid a bulky look and maintain an elegant appearance, and make a statement coat the star of the show. Jeans in a subdued tone will keep you warm and look smart, especially when paired with a well-tailored jacket and classic hat, such as a felt fedora. If you need to be extra smart, a tailored skirt in a thick fabric is both elegant and practical.
What shoes should I wear?
Whilst high heels are the natural choice for a classy event, they aren’t the best choice for the races as you will be on your feet all day and you may be walking on grass or other uneven ground. During flat season, a pair of wedge espadrilles will look beautiful and won’t sink embarrassingly into the turf; for jump meets, choose well-made short or long leather boots.
Race Season Style Guide for Gentlemen
If you’re fond of getting suited and booted, the races offer a great opportunity for men to dress up. Though different racetracks have different rules and dress codes, for most of them you can’t go wrong with a fitted suit or smart trousers and nicely tailored blazer. Jeans can be worn but they must be clean, smart and without rips or tears, and if you wish to dress down a little in summer, pressed chinos are a better option.
Hopefully the weather will be glorious during flat season, meaning gentlemen should choose an outfit that allows them to keep cool as well as look good. Navy or charcoal suits create sleek silhouettes but can be a little dark for summer races so consider a sand or beige option instead. For those keen on peacocking, the races are a great opportunity to wear a patterned suit such as a bold check or a blazer in a vibrant colour, which is in keeping with the formal but fun vibe of the races.
As with the ladies, the main point during jumps season is to dress for the weather. Suits in heavier fabrics such as tweed are both smart and warm, as are layers of shirts, chunky knits and tailored woollen coats or waxed jackets. If you wish to add a splash of colour, a bright shirt or tie keeps things cheerful, especially during gloomy weather.
What shoes should I wear?
Whatever the season, shoes should be smart, but think dressy rather than business-y. Choose monk straps or Oxfords in black, brown or burgundy, or, if you want to make a statement, two-one brogues. Socks are advisable and sometimes, as in the case of Ascot, mandatory. Chelsea boots or Hunter wellingtons are acceptable in jumps season.
There are few hard and fast rules for race meet fashion, but dressing your very best is both encouraged and appreciated. Both men and women should aim for style and elegance, whilst staying on the right side of practical in terms of choosing the right shoes, and keeping warm and dry. If you’re properly dressed you’ll fit in with the crowd and have a fantastic day at the races.