How should you style for your race day?

Top tips for main events on the racing calendar

Horse racing events are a great opportunity to get dressed to the nines and have some fun with friends. The spring/summer events kicks off with Cheltenham in March and it’s worth noting that each venue has its own dress code — so what should you wear for each?

Cheltenham Races: 12th March – 15th March 

Traditionally known for its British country influence, you can expect to see people dressed in tweed and sharp tailoring at Cheltenham Races. 

Ladies

Practicality is something that many women bear in mind when it comes to the Cheltenham Races. Taking place in March, the weather is unpredictable so be prepared for all conditions. 

  • Consider wearing classic country colours such as brown hues and neutral shades to blend in with the country theme. 

  • Opt for smart below-the-knee boots rather than high heels, the terrain is often damp, and two-thirds of the car parks are on grass. 

  • Tailored tweed is always on-trend at this event, add something extra with fur collar trims and a feather brooch. 

  • Many women choose to wear a hat, not only as an accessory but to protect from the cold too. A trilby hat with an added feather is one way to embrace the style of the event. 

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Men

Cheltenham Races is thought to be a celebration of British clothing, and a lot of people go all out for the occasion.

  • Choose British classics such as corduroy, tweed and lambswool when deciding on your outfit. 

  • A covert coat is a popular choice for men who attend the races, an overcoat traditionally worn for hunting or horse riding. 

Fancy dress is permitted at the event as long as it doesn’t cause any offence. 

Randox Health Grand National Festival Aintree: 4th April – 6th April 

There is no official dress code at Aintree, but smart clothing is preferable by organisers. Fancy dress is not permitted for the Grand National, instead opt for formalwear or semi-formalwear. 

Ladies

The Jockey Club recognises that Aintree becomes a “spectacle of colour” for the festival, so don’t be afraid to go bold and bright. 

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  • Statement headpieces are part of many women’s Aintree outfits, including oversized hats and fascinators of weird but wonderful shapes. 

  • Long dresses, short dresses, jumpsuits and trouser suits are all acceptable at the Grand National — you’re encouraged to dress to impress and “show off your personality through style”. 

Men

Although there is no official dress code for the Grand National, keep it smart and stylish if you can. 

  • Sports clothing is not permitted so avoid tracksuit bottoms and trainers. Instead choose smart shoes such as brogues or Oxford shoes.

  • Take the opportunity to get suited and booted, or at least wear a suit and tie. Although some choose to wear a top hat and tail, it’s not required.

Scottish Grand National Festival Ayr: 12th April – 13th April 

The dress code for the Scottish Grand National Festival depends on which enclosure you buy tickets for. In the Hospitality Facilities and Club Stand, smart dress is encouraged, but in the Grandstand, there is no formal dress code.  

Ladies

The first day of the Scottish Grand National Festival at Ayr is the glamor-filled Ladies Day where visitors put their best frocks on to attend the event.  

  • The official website states that “hats and fascinators are optional, but on display in abundance” so you might feel out of place without one. 

Men

  • A tie isn’t compulsory in the Hospitality Facilities but you might want to wear one to look the part.

  • In the Club Stand, avoid wearing ripped/torn denim or trainers or you face being refused entry to the main event, instead suits are encouraged. 

  • Although there’s no formal dress code in the Grandstand, don’t wear football colours or distasteful fancy dress as you risk bringing the tone down and will be asked to leave. 

Boodles May Festival Chester: 8th May – 10th May 

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The prestigious three-day Boodles May Festival kicks off on Wednesday 8th May this year with City Day, followed by Ladies Day and Chester Cup Day. There are five enclosures at Chester, but how should you dress for each? 

Winning Post Enclosure & County Enclosure 

This is the course’s most premium enclosure and is for adults only. Ladies are required to wear a smart dress and gentleman should opt for a well-tailored suit or blazer/sports jacket with smart trousers and a shirt, collar and tie. There are no denim jeans, trainers, sportswear or fancy dress allowed. 

The venue has been known to relax the dress code on a warm day, so you may not need to wear a jacket if the weather suits. 

Tattersalls Enclosure

In this part of the race course, smart casual dress is recommended for both men and women. Smart jeans, trousers and chinos are allowed but ripped jeans are not permitted. There are other rules to follow too as shorts, sportswear, t-shirts and fancy dress will lead to refused entry. 

Dee Stand & Open Course

You are free to wear what you choose in this enclosure, but smart dress is still encouraged. 

Investec Derby Festival: 31st May – 1st June

Many choose the Investec Derby Festival as an opportunity to bring out their favourite outfits and dress to impress, but are there any rules?

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Ladies 

Investec Ladies Day takes place on the 31st May this year, and you’re invited to enter the Style Awards where you can celebrate your outfit and win some prizes. 

  • Fascinators and hats are strongly advised on Ladies Day, especially if you’re in the Queen’s Stand Enclosure where this is a strong recommendation.

  • On Derby Day, women are required to wear formal day wear in the Queen’s Stand Enclosure which can be a formal day dress, tailored trouser suit, with a hat or “substantial fascinator”.

Men

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There are a range of enclosures at Epsom Derby, this might determine your dress code. 

  • Avoid wearing sportswear or sleeveless vests In the Grandstand Enclosure on both Ladies Day and Derby Day. 

  • Smart denim is accepted in the Grandstand Enclosure unless it is frayed, torn or ripped. Sports trainers are also not allowed. 

  • On Derby Day, in the Queen’s Stand Enclosure, men must wear a black or grey morning suit which includes a top hat, service dress or full national costume.  

Royal Ascot: 18th June – 22nd June

People from around the world flock to the Royal Ascot racecourse. Dress code depends on each enclosure but there are also some general rules to follow, and some of them are quite strict!

Ladies

Royal Enclosure 

  • Dresses are required to fall just above the knee or longer but must be of modest length. 

  • All dresses and tops should have straps of one inch or greater and strapless, off the shoulder or halter neck dresses are not allowed.

  • Trouser suits and jumpsuits are accepted, and hats are a must. Fascinators on the other hand are not welcomed in this enclosure.

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Village Enclosure 

  • A hat or headpiece is a must.

  • Avoid wearing strapless dresses and tops. 

  • If you’re wearing a trouser suit, it should be full-length and jumpsuits should sit below the knee. 

  • Avoid cropped wear as midriffs are required to be covered.

  • No shorts are allowed.

Windsor Enclosure

  • The dress code is more relaxed in this enclosure, with visitors recommended only to dress in smart day wear. 

  • Other recommendations include a hat or fascinator for women. 

Queen Anne Enclosure

  • A hat, headpiece or fascinator is a must.

  • Avoid strapless necklines for dresses and tops, this includes off-the-shoulder, Bardot and one shoulder outfits.

Men

Royal Enclosure 

  • A black or grey morning dress is a requirement which must include a waistcoat and tie (no cravats or bow ties), a black or grey top hat and black shoes worn with socks.

  • Hats should not be customised, and novelty waistcoats and ties are not allowed. 

Village Enclosure

  • Jackets, full-length trousers, collared shirts and ties are a must for every gentleman in the village enclosure.

  • When it comes to your tie, the rules are more relaxed than in the Royal Enclosure. You’re allowed to wear bow ties or cravats in addition to a regular tie. 

  • Socks should cover the ankle and you should avoid wearing jeans and trainers. 

Windsor Enclosure

  • Gentleman must still wear jacket, collared shirt and full-length trousers in this section of Ascot.

Queen Anne Enclosure

  • Make sure you’re coordinating if you get a ticket for this enclosure as jackets and trousers should be of matching colour and pattern. 

  • Bow ties and cravats are not allowed in this enclosure.

Written by Cerys Elder - Media Works