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Guide to Racing

What To Wear To The Races?

What to wear at the races

Many people choose to dress up for a day at the races and, although often not mandatory, it is considered to be part of the raceday experience. The Racing Post has compiled a list of everything you need to know when deciding what to wear at the races.


Although far from compulsory in all enclosures, smart dress is the accepted dress code for racegoers. Trainers and shorts are widely regarded as unacceptable, although not forbidden in some enclosures or at some meetings.

The classic Flat racing attire for men is a collared shirt with trousers and smart shoes. Some choose to finish the look with a tie and blazer but this is personal preference, and to some extent determined by the weather.

Jumps meetings tend to adopt a dress for the weather approach as opposed to a strict dress code, as most of the big meetings take place during the winter months. An old traditional among jumps fans is to wear tweed, but that is simply a personal preference.

Even when deciding what to wear to the Cheltenham Festival, it is best to dress for the weather, unless you are lucky enough to be a corporate guest, in which case a suit may be more appropriate.


Many ladies attending Flat race meetings in the summer, associate a day at the races as a day to dress up in all their glitz and glamour, although this is not compulsory in many areas. Some of the more prestigious meetings and the ever growing number of ladies’ specific days put the spotlight on fashion, while some meetings offer competitions for the best-dressed racegoers to enter.

As with the gentlemen, it is a case of wearing weather-appropriate clothing in the winter, with heels not advisable in the likely wet conditions.

Royal Ascot – a special occasion

Royal Ascot is a prestigious five-day meeting in June that is steeped in history, and one of its most traditional elements is the dress code. Strict standards of what to wear are set by the racecourse and failure to comply can result in entry being denied.

For example, the Royal Enclosure demands all gentlemen wear a three-piece morning suit and top hat at all times. Ladies must wear a hat or headpiece at all times, as well as conform to an extensive list of restrictions regarding their outfits. Ascot also recently introduced a rule that all gentlemen should be wearing socks.

The Golden Rule

For full details of all dress codes, please refer to the individual racecourse websites, most of which provide great advice on what to wear for your day at the races.

Published on 2 February 2023inGuide to Racing

Last updated 12:49, 2 February 2023