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What to wear for a day at the races this summer

Horse racing has long been associated with glitz, glamour and all-round sophistication.

By LLM Reporters  |  June 5, 2022
Group of people posing at the Prix de Diane
Image Credit: Pixinoo/Bigstock.com

With Royal Ascot set to kick off on the 15th June, racing season is officially upon us, and there’s nothing like a weekend of trackside action to get us excited for a summer of sport. But unlike football, rugby and other popular pursuits, horse racing has long been associated with glitz, glamour and all-round sophistication, and Royal Ascot brings with it the perfect excuse to get dressed up to the nines.

As ever, we can expect a star-studded event, with a whole host of celebrities and affluent movers and shakers turning out in their finery to watch the drama unfold. And, with some big money bets set to be placed across the weekend on some of the most expensive horses in the world – many of whom are themselves owned by some of the world’s wealthiest individuals, it’s a weekend that’s worth pulling out all the stops for to ensure you look like a million dollars throughout.

Lovely smiling woman with a pretty hat at the Prix de Diane The Prix de Diane
During the summer months, a lightweight dress is the perfect pick for women attending the races. Image credit: Pixinoo/Bigstock.com

Of course, it isn’t always easy to decide what to wear at the races, and there are a range of factors to consider in doing so – including the season, weather forecast and dress code. Nevertheless, there are some general rules of thumb to follow that are certain to get you noticed for all the right reasons, ticking all the right boxes and ensuring you feel just as fabulous as you look.

Dressing for affluence

During the summer months, a lightweight dress is the perfect pick for women attending the races, and a flowing choice in a pretty pastel hue will keep you cool in warmer temperatures as well as looking elegant. Avoid dark colours, and opt for lemon yellows, baby blues, sugary pinks and lovely lilacs – floral prints optional.

When it comes to Ladies’ Day –  an occasion on which it’s customary to get dressed up in your finery, fascinators are a must – and a pair of killer designer heels will finish off the look, but across the rest of the weekend, it’s wise to make a more sensible choice as you could find that you’ll be on your feet and walking around for much of the day. Racing aficionados Saturday Racing Tips have got it spot on with their top tip to leave the towering stilettos at home and opt for a small wedge or pretty flatform sandal instead – walking boots and trainers won’t cut it, so choose one of these instead for the perfect compromise.

Of course, not all racing events take place in the summer, so if you’re heading to a meet in autumn or winter, your priority should be to keep as warm as possible, as standing outside for long periods can quickly leave you feeling chilly if you’re not dressed appropriately. If you’re determined to wear a dress, then opt for a maxi or pair with tights for maximum coverage, or go one better and opt for a jumpsuit instead. Wear a long coat over the top for added warmth, and finish with a pair of leather gloves for a nice touch to keep your hands warm.

Close-up portrait of a man tying his shoelaces on brogues leaning his foot on the chair.
The sartorial male, too, will no doubt want to look his best at the races, and for Royal Ascot, a lightweight suit is the perfect pick

Suited and booted

The sartorial male, too, will no doubt want to look his best at the races, and for Royal Ascot, a lightweight suit is the perfect pick. As well as looking dapper, it’ll keep you relatively cool, particularly if you opt for linen. Wear in a light colour and team with a pale pink or pastel yellow shirt for a modern and sophisticated summer look. A coloured tie in a matching or contrasting shade, or a stylish pattern, is a nice addition to finish things off.

Footwear wise, a smart pair of brogues or loafers with a thin pair of socks will never fail you, and if it’s particularly warm, the loafers can even be worn without.

With Royal Ascot set to kick off on the 15th June, racing season is officially upon us, and there’s nothing like a weekend of trackside action to get us excited for a summer of sport

A suit remains the best option in the winter for men, when heavier fabrics, such as a wool blend, are great for extra warmth. Consider the weather forecast when choosing the colour of your suit, as if it’s going to be raining, you won’t want the rain spots to be visible. A darker suit in navy or black is always a safe bet, while for an additional layer of warmth, you can add a waistcoat – a garment which also adds some much needed personality to a relatively plain look overall.

A stylish overcoat and scarf can be worn to finish off the look when standing outside and can be easily removed when going inside for a drink when the racing has finished. 

Getting dressed up for a day at the races should be fun, and a chance to show off your very finest attire, so splurge away on some show-stopping designer pieces and prepare for a weekend of drama and excess. After all, it’s exactly what racing season is all about.