What to wear at the races

The British racing season is upon us, and that means it’s time to dust off your smartest threads and head to the track in style. Whether you’re off to Epsom, Cheltenham, Aintree or Royal Ascot, dressing the part is essential for a day at the races. 

First things first, though. Before you plan your race day outfit, find out if the course has a dress code, and if so, what it is. Sometimes dress codes will only apply to certain parts of the course, so might not affect you. Rules are getting more relaxed with every passing season, but if you’re not sure, it’s best to err on the side of caution and dress up. You certainly won’t be alone.

So here’s your guide to looking sharp and sophisticated among the roars and thrills of a day at the races.

Tweed: the ultimate racing fabric

When it comes to choosing the perfect fabric for a day at the races, look no further than tweed. This quintessentially British material has a long and rich history intertwined with equestrian sports and all things countrified, making it the ideal choice for a sophisticated and stylish race day outfit. There’s just something about its earthiness that will guarantee it’s a perfect fit, whichever course you’re attending. 

Tweed is known for its durability and versatility, making it a reliable option for the unpredictable British weather. Its traditional look exudes elegance alongside a kind of rough and ready vibe, which perfectly complements the classless charm of the racing environment.

There’s a fine line between looking your best and cosplaying a Victorian stablehand, so keep it subtle and revel in the timeless look you’ve created. If you’d wear your chosen outfit for a wedding, you’ve probably got the tone about right.

Blazers and separates: elevating your race day look

While a full suit is a classic choice, mixing and matching blazers and separates can add a touch of modern sophistication to your race day ensemble. Opt for a sleek navy blazer paired with black trousers or experiment with a textured blazer in a chequered pattern for a stylish twist.

When wearing separates, it’s important to pay attention to details. Make sure your blazer fits well across the shoulders and torso, and choose trousers that complement the style and colour of your blazer. A well-coordinated outfit shows a keen eye for style, and that’s half the battle won when you’re dressing to impress.

Accessorise your separates with a classic shirt and tie combination, or opt for a more casual look with a light knit sweater or a polo shirt. Don’t forget about footwear – a polished pair of loafers or suede derbies adds a finishing touch to your outfit, completing your race day look with finesse. If you’re likely to be on grass and the going is heavy, a good pair of Chelsea boots with a generous sole might be the more sensible option. 

Accessories are key

Don’t forget about accessories when planning your race day attire. A pocket square in a complementary colour to your outfit can add a touch of personality and flair. A classy watch or a stylish pair of cufflinks are also great finishing touches to complete your look. 

If you’re really confident about your look, why not go for a cravat? A beautiful silk number with a paisley design, thoughtfully tucked into your open-neck shirt is a real traditional outdoor look that won’t go unnoticed.

A pop (or more) of colour

While tweed is a classic choice for race day, don’t be afraid to inject a bit of colour into your outfit. That brightly coloured tie or pocket square can add a modern twist to a traditional tweed ensemble, but you can also introduce interesting shades in your tie or even your socks. Experiment with different shades and patterns to create a look that is both stylish and unique. 

If your race-day mission is to compete with the women (not that we’d recommend that), you can push the boat out with a real eye-catcher. Could you pull off the red suit look? If the occasion is right, the weather’s fine and you’re out with friends or colleagues for some unadulterated fun, don’t hold back.

Be comfortable

While it’s important to look sharp and sophisticated at the races, comfort should also be a priority. Make sure your suit fits well and allows you to move freely and comfortably throughout what can be a long day. Opt for light fabrics to stay cool in the summer heat, and don’t forget to layer up if the weather is unpredictable. You won’t regret taking a light overcoat or umbrella.

Race days let you embrace the classic elegance of tweed, experiment with colour and accessories, and enjoy your day in style. Study the form guide well and you might just back a winner – both on the track and in the fashion stakes.