What to Wear to the Races: Dress Codes, Guidance & Outfit Inspo for Women

What to Wear to the Races: Dress Codes, Guidance & Outfit Inspo for Women

The races are the epitome of glamour and excitement. From the stunning horses to the fashionable spectators, UK horse racing events provide the perfect opportunity for women to dress up, feel their best, and lose themselves in a good race.

But knowing what to wear can be a challenge, especially with dress codes varying from event to event.

Keep reading for tips on what to wear to the races, and some outfit inspiration to feel your best. Happy racing!

Dress codes at the races

Whether you’re a seasoned racegoer or a first timer, it’s always a good idea to check the event’s dress code before you come. Dress codes can vary by event and even by different enclosures at the same event.

The Royal Ascot in Berkshire is renowned for its strict dress codes and royal connections, and the Glorious Goodwood requires a ‘garden party look’ for women and jacket and ties for men in certain enclosures.

Most other events such as Cheltenham and the Grand National however don’t have official requirements, and simply want racegoers to come dressed to feel their best.

But whether at the Royal Ascot or the Grand National – All recommend against overly casual attire, such as sportswear & football shirts, or in fancy dress that could be deemed offensive – as you could be turned away.

As a general rule:

  • Smart, formal, elegant styles that make you feel your best
  • Fascinators, hats or headpieces if you want to
  • Appropriate footwear – check the weather and enclosure you’ll be in (some are grass)
  • Coat if it’s cold
  • Football shirts
  • Vulgar or offensive fancy dress
  • Stilettos on certain grounds
  • Should I wear a fascinator or hat to the races?

    Fascinators and hats share a long history at the races. Originally called the sport of kings – racing was (and still is) considered the epitome of elegance.

    Fashion and racing have always gone hand in hand too, and fascinators and elegant hats would be a way for a lady to show her status and how fashionable she was.

    Now it’s more acceptable to go without, but that doesn’t stop many women wearing one. And why not on race day! The Royal Ascot even requires a hat, headpiece, or fascinator in most enclosures – how glamourous.

    Lots of women see the races as a chance to show the best versions of themselves, and whatever this looks like to you – with or without a fascinator – we say go for it!

    Women’s outfit inspiration for the races

    Relaxed summer chic

    Taking a leaf out of Glorious Goodwood’s racecourse dress code, embody their ‘garden party look’ with airy linen trousers for your day at the races.

    These stunning Malo linen trousers in oatmeal are perfect for relaxed summer chic.

    Pair with a floaty white blouse, floaty printed blouse or cowl satin blouse for an elevated look.

    Add some strappy sandals or low wedges (remember – avoid stilettos!) – along with a cute clutch and matching sunhat and you’re good to go.

    Bold and bright

    Brightly coloured suits are going to be a 2023 staple. The trouser suit is super comfortable and ideal to withstand any unpredictable English weather.

    This gorgeous coral trouser and jacket suit are perfect for a day at the races. The cropped style is so flattering, and paired with a pair of leopard print pumps is the perfect way to add some edge (remember to check the grounds before you go!).

    Add a matching leopard print clutch bag or gold-detailed crossbody bag and you’ve got a chic, put-together look that’s sure to turn heads!

    If you’re not sure about a full bold suit statement, try a brightly coloured blazer for a pop of colour.

    This EMI double breasted hot pink blazer has been a wardrobe staple of ours – and the velvet is perfect to ward off dreary UK weather.

    Pair with a simple midi skirt and knee-high boots – or pair of wide leg trousers with crisp white trainers for a relaxed but put-together look.

    Classic preppy

    Nothing says ‘the races’ like a bit of tweed. Channel your inner equestrian with this preppy checked blazer and knee-high riding boots.

    Add a bit of glamour with a luxurious satin midi skirt and cashmere turtleneck underneath for some added warmth!

    Elegant and understated

    When we think of the races, we picture immaculately dressed women with beautiful fascinators and glasses of prosecco in hand.

    And what better way to let your accessories do the talking than a stunningly simple navy dress?

    These dresses are our top picks for a day at the races. The perfect amount of modest elegance mixed with beautifully flattering details.

    Add some low-heeled mules or knee high boots – top with a fascinator for a classic Ascot look.

    Feminine Florals

    No matter the time of year, florals will always be a winner at the races. Whether opting for a classic dainty print like the Donnie dress, or something a little bolder like the NYX Midi Dress – florals are easy, breezy and go perfectly with a fascinator or sunhat!

    Pair both styles with espadrilles for an easy-to-walk in summery look.

    Timeless chic

    Horses don’t have to be the only animal on show at the races! Leopard print is a super chic classic – easy to add to any outfit.

    This CAZ Leopard Print Dress is the perfect timeless piece to add a fun print whilst being oh-so elegant. We love the ruched detail to accentuate the waist.

    Let the dress do the talking with simple accessories – like black boots and a long black wool coat if it’s chilly.

    Final word

    Whether you’re going for the fashion, the horses, or the bubbly, we hope you have a wonderful time at the races!

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    Happy shopping!