There’s nothing quite like a day at the races with family or friends. The atmosphere, colour and noise, all add to the excitement of the occasion and there’s even a chance to win some money on the horse racing too.
The first modern horse race was the St. Leger which began in England in 1776, and in the UK the sport is often referred to as ‘The Sport of Kings’. Today horse racing is one of the most popular sports in the world and enjoyed by millions of people.
What should I wear?
Whether you’re visiting the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, Royal Ascot or the Melbourne Cup, deciding what to wear can be confusing, especially when every race day, course and enclosure often has different dress codes.
But don’t be put off, a day at the races is a wonderful opportunity to dress up and wear something you wouldn’t usually get the chance to wear. So, if you need some inspiration, just follow our guide below.
Most female racegoers will go for a dress as the main part of their outfit, but a skirt or a trouser are also perfectly acceptable. A race day dress is traditionally a classic mid-length number and floral or patterned summer dresses and tea dresses are the best choice for warm summer months. Try and stay away from black, as a day at the races is a chance to do something different and be bold with colour.
At the Kentucky Derby, ladies in the grandstand, clubhouse, suites and corporate hospitality areas typically wear spring dresses, pastel-coloured suits, or bold separates that coordinate with their headwear and accessories. No matter where you’re watching the action from, the key is to keep it simple.
Things to consider when choosing your Raceday outfit:
- Enclosure: Where are you watching from? Different parts of racecourses have different dress codes so make sure you check before you go.
- Weather: Is it going to be hot or cold? Will you need a coat, sunglasses, umbrella, jacket or scarf.
- Dress Codes – A select number of major racing events have very strict policies around their dress code. Royal Ascot in England is a classic example.
- Racecourse – Lots of racecourses are more relaxed about dress codes at certain race meetings, such as the Breeders Cup, so be sure to check out their websites beforehand.
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This is where you need to think practically and not get carried away with wearing the very latest designer high heels which are going to start hurting your feet after ten minutes. A day at the races means you’re going to be on your feet a lot of the time and often walking on soft ground, so practical and comfortable footwear is key. But that doesn’t have to mean boring!
Try picking a simple or block heel that compliments your dress and other accessories in both colour and style. Don’t forget that if you do buy new heels for the day, you need to wear them in beforehand to avoid any blisters. And if you opt to go with high heels, a spare pair of flats tucked away in a bag is a great idea.
Hats and Fascinators
The races are the perfect excuse to step out of your comfort zone and try something new, and that includes wearing a hat, or a fascinator. Headwear is often a must-have at certain race meetings and the right choice can really elevate your outfit.
The key is to choose a piece that doesn’t overpower the rest of your outfit and instead compliments it. Try matching colours and don’t forget that you’ll be wearing it all day so make sure it’s comfortable. If you don’t have anything suitable in your wardrobe and don’t want to splash out on a hat just for one day, visiting your local charity shop is a great option.
Where would we be without bags? Great for storing all the things we need to get through the day, such as sunglasses, a spare pair of flat shoes, race program, sunscreen, bottle of water, and more. But be sure to check bag size limits at the venue you’re attending.
Packing a smaller clutch or over-the-shoulder bag for your money, phone, and other essentials is also a good idea. Again, don’t let your bag overpower the rest of your outfit, but don’t be afraid to play with fun bold colours and texture.
Horse racing is a fantastic sport that should be enjoyed anyone and everyone, and the more relaxed and comfortable you feel, the more likely you are to have a great day out. Everyone is different, especially when it comes to our sense of style and what us feel comfortable in ourselves.
Lots of people like to dress up and wear a glamorous designer dress and high heels, especially at a big race meeting, but for some, a pair of jeans and smart trainers are what make them feel good. But whatever your fashion tastes are, the most important thing when deciding on your outfit is your comfort and confidence on the day. So, wear what feels right for you and have a great day at the races.