How to Choose the Perfect Race Day Look

How to Choose the Perfect Race Day Look

Suit Up for one of the Great British sporting traditions and get race-day ready with the perfect look. Whether you prefer a traditional tweed ensemble, or the finest city threads, horse racing season is the perfect opportunity to make a style statement.

When and where are the Biggest UK Horse Races in 2023?

Cheltenham Festival, Cheltenham Racecourse – Tues 14th March – Fri 17th March

Grand National, Aintree Racecourse, Liverpool – Sat 15th April

York Races, York Racecourse, York – fixtures from May - September

Epsom Derby, Epsom Downs Racecourse – Sat 3rd June

Royal Ascot, Ascot Racecourse – Thurs 22nd June

What should men wear to the races?

Always start by researching the official dress code requirements of the race you're attending – is a three-piece suit a must? Is a tie essential? Could you get away with chinos instead of suit trousers? Major races including Royal Ascot and York Racecourse feature informative online dress codes, perfect for making sure you keep in line with race day etiquette. Once you've established the level of formality you need to adhere to, it's time to finesse your style and find the perfect balance between formality and flair.

Traditional Tweed

The tweed suit is quintessential race day attire, with country-gent appeal that's a testament to traditional British tailoring. With a heavyweight construction and usually incorporating wool, tweed is a great option for those races early in the season as it'll keep you insulated. If you're heading to Epsom, or another race that's later in the season, opt for a more lightweight tweed in a brighter colourway to reflect the sunnier climate, and add a waistcoat into the mix to maintain formality even when you need to shed the suit jacket.

Plain earthy green and dark flecked tweeds usually come to mind when you think of a tweed suit – both are great options – but why not take advantage of the chance to dress with flair and choose a stand-out checked tweed suit, or keep your look fresh with a more modern colourway like bold blue.

Contemporary Suiting

Looking for a more modern approach? Dress to impress in slick contemporary styles that still hit the formal mark. Go all-out on suave style with a slim-fitting dark suit, complete with a matching waistcoat for added elegance. Tonal dressing is a sure-fire way to look polished yet modern – try a pale blue shirt under a blue two-piece suit, or a black suit complete with smart black shirt and tie. Embrace other modern tailoring tropes, like the often-overlooked pink shirt, or a collarless grandad collar shirt – as long as going tie-free is within those crucial outfit guidelines.

For something in between traditional and modern, take on a checked suit in a contemporary colourway – pale grey, soft blue or cream – these carry head-turning style to really make an entrance. If you're looking to make your races suit a worthwhile investment, choose understated checks such as dark navy or charcoal checks – subtle yet stylish, they'll be suitable for the office or other special occasions post-races.

Black Tie & Morning Suits

If you're lucky enough to secure an invitation to Ascot's Royal Enclosure, or are heading to a similarly formal or evening race, you might find yourself in search of a tuxedo, or even a full morning suit. For such high-profile race days, dress codes tighten and it's all about sticking to allocated suit styles, with a focus on the perfect fit and pristine fabrics. Royal Ascot's top-tier dress code allows only black, grey or navy morning dress, which must include a waistcoat, tie, top hat and black shoes. Similarly, Epsom Derby's Queen Elizabeth II Stand calls for morning dress and a top hat, or the full national costume of your country.

Smart-Casual Race Day Outfits

Races including the Grand National, Cheltenham Festival and Epsom Derby follow no formal dress code in most areas of their racecourses, with exceptions made for certain stands or enclosures. Where a more relaxed dress code is permitted, keep things on the 'smart' end of smart-casual; think blazers, collard Oxford shirts, full length chinos and loafers for summer-ready race day style that'll keep you comfortable all day. Jeans, short-sleeved shirts and smart shorts are occasionally permitted during the height of summer, but their suitability varies between events, so always do your research!