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Getting gussied up is half the fun of attending the races. Here is how to nail the dress code, whether you’re headed to Royal Ascot or the Epsom Derby


Dress to impress at the races

Make sure to check the event’s dress code etiquette and allow time to plan your race-day outfit. Some events, such as Royal Ascot, specify outfits depending on which enclosure you’ll be attending. Dress codes can range from morning dress (that’s top hat, waistcoat and tails for gentleman) to smart-casual so you’ll need to prepare, especially if ordering a suit or a formal race-day outfit.

Hats are generally a requirement for formal race-day attire. For ladies, hats should complement the colour scheme of the outfit and add flair, whether you choose a fascinator or a larger hat. Consider the weather when selecting a hat: a wide-brimmed hat will offer more coverage from the sun’s rays than a dainty headband. Have fun when choosing race-day headwear and don’t be afraid to showcase your personality.

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Men’s race-day outfit ideas

Unless your race event calls for morning dress, the rules of wedding guest attire tend to apply for men. You can’t go wrong with a timeless suit accessorised to perfection. Double-check the dress code to make sure you wear the right neckwear: some venues state requirements for ties and bow ties. Whatever you do, don’t leave your socks at home – bare ankles can be a faux pas at certain courses.

Race events during the cooler months, such as the Cheltenham Festival, call for cosy tweed and wool suiting. You may wish to bring a sturdy overcoat if the weather is not in your favour. It is always better to have additional layers to hand then feel cold, especially when a long trudge to the carpark is involved.

If you’re not sure where to begin, or it’s been a while since you last wore a suit, book an in-store fitting ideal for individuals or groups.

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Beyond the dress: Women’s race-day outfits

A trouser suit is a chic alternative to an elegant dress if you prefer a more tailored look. Brightly coloured suits are a top trend for spring/summer ’23 and are guaranteed to stand out in the crowd. Pastel or neutral-toned suits create a foundation for showcasing eye-catching accessories – try adding a corsage or statement brooch to the lapel to create a talking point.

Dress up a two-piece outfit for the races with a gorgeous pair of heels. Block heels or wedges work best on grass courses however if you are in an enclosure you should be safe with stilettos. Choose footwear with our patented Insolia technology to keep sore feet at bay when standing for long periods of time.

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Unique race day dresses

Ladies’ Day calls for a spectacular race-day outfit so don’t be afraid to wear something unconventional that will help get you noticed. Adopt the mentality of ‘more is more’ for an Insta-worthy outfit and don’t shy away from bold prints and vibrant colours.

This striking floral-print maxi dress features voluminous sleeves, tiered skirt and twisted open back for maximum impact (and talking points) at the races. Team with sleek sandals and a pair of oversized sunglasses for when the sun peeks out of the clouds. Alternatively, consider a jumpsuit instead of a dress – an ideal casual race-day outfit if the course dress code allows.

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Words: Dulcie Emerson

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