The Do’s and Don’ts for Dressing for The Races

Couple wearing formal dress and suit for the races

When it comes to dressing for the races, elegance and style should be at the very top of your priorities.

Considering the specific dress code for the event is key and dressing according to the season and weather will ensure you always look appropriate.

Opting for dresses, two-piece outfits or elegant trousers are all acceptable.

However, you should avoid difficult-to-wear shoes and false tan disasters, which are never a good look.

Whether you’re heading to a summer race course next year or have been invited to a winter horse racing event, there are certain dress code rules that will apply.

This is to ensure that all guests arrive with an elegant style that is appropriate for the occasion.

From the weather to the dress code on your invitation, what to wear for the races can cause stress and overwhelm to those attending.

However, if you stick to a few simple races rule, you’ll never be left wearing the wrong thing.

Things to Consider Before Choosing What to Wear

People holding umbrellas during a rainy day

Before you head out to your favorite shops to choose a race day outfit, there are several things to consider first.

Try to think about your outfit in advance, rather than making a rushed decision.

This is because there are several components to a race day outfit, each as important as the next.

From the dress to the headwear and your most glamorous shoes, your look should be elegant and stylish from top to toe.

However, you need to ensure that you are also comfortable enough to last all day long.

Dress Code

Every race day event has its own specific dress code.

On top of this, often each enclosure within that race day has dress code requirements.

While this might sound complicated, it really just means that you need to study and clarify what that race day dress code entails to ensure you’re not left red-faced.

When dress codes are strict, they will certainly have the relevant information at hand on the invite or on the event’s website for you to check.

For ladies, this will usually come down to headwear requirements and possibly dress length.

This is to ensure that everyone attending is aware that a glamorous and elegant style is always expected.

Season and Weather

It may seem obvious, but it’s easy to get carried away when shopping for a day at the races when looking at glamorous dresses and sky-high strappy sandals.

However, it is still important to dress appropriately for the weather.

This is because you’ll be standing in the outdoors for much of the racing event.

In the midst of the summer season, light airy dresses will help keep you cool when spending the day in the sunshine.

But, winter race days call for added fur or cashmere shawls and the help of a covered toe shoe.


Getting dressed up for the races is fun and your outfit should reflect that.

Therefore, consider choosing a bright or floral colored dress that you usually wouldn’t have chosen.

Black is chic, but for the races, you can play around with pinks and bold blues.

This will give you a statement look that remains eternally elegant.

Race day is also a great time to wear white.

As you must never wear white to someone’s wedding day, the races are a lovely time to opt for a pure white dress and hat, giving you the chance to try out this stunning palette.


Sometimes when shopping for race day, you can get lost in simply what you want to wear on that one day.

This way you may just get one wear out of the outfit before it stays hidden in your wardrobe, unused.

So, try and think about when you can wear the outfit again.

Then, you could end up with the perfect wedding outfit for an event later on in your social calendar.

What Types of Clothing Should You Wear to The Races

Woman wearing a formal red dress with heels that is suitable for a day at the racesIn general, dressing for the races should always incorporate an elegant style, appropriate for a formal day out.

While we are more than used to seeing images of scantily clad ladies at race day wearing short dresses and plunging necklines, it’s not necessarily always the best look.

To be appropriate and stylish for the horse racing, it’s always best to adhere to the dress code.

Opt for a glamorous look that really shows off your most elegant self.


A dress is a ladies most popular choice for the races.

However, when it comes to selecting a specific dress, a few fashion rules should be adhered to, to ensure you stick to the dress code.

Check your length against the dress code.

Shorter dresses are often acceptable for race day, but certain events require longer lengths, so make sure you’ve double checked.

If you opt for a shorter dress, avoid skin-tight styles and choose an A-line skirt, which will guarantee a more elegant finish.


A chic dress and jacket two-piece can be an elegant choice for the races.

This can give you the advantage of not having to find a jacket or shawl to team with your chosen dress.

When opting for a two-piece, shorter dress styles with longline jackets are elegant and stylish.

Team it up perfectly with a formal hat or piece of headwear.

Trouser Suits & Jumpsuits

Where once dresses were your only option, jumpsuits and elegant formal trousers are now acceptable at most racing events.

For formal events, jumpsuits and trousers will need to be full-length rather than cropped.

So, it’s always best to double check the dress code if you’ve decided to opt away from a dress choice.

What Should You Avoid

Woman wearing a pair of high heeled shoes

To help you remain eternally graceful and stylish at race day, there are a few keys points that are best avoided to ensure you don’t spoil your overall look.

The best and most elegant dress can be ruined with poor choices in shoes or makeup.

So, always ensure you try to create a cohesive and head to toe chic ensemble.

Overly Plunging Necklines

When a dress code is all about elegant style, an extreme plunging neckline can often sit a little out of sorts.

While this style might work perfectly at a party or night out, a daytime, formal occasion calls for a neckline that covers a little more skin.

Nightmare Shoes

Choosing shoes for the races is tricky.

You need to be able to walk and stand all day in them but you never want to opt for something too “practical”.

Avoid shoes you already know will cause you issues.

So, try to avoid brand new shoes, which haven’t yet been tested and can cause sore feet and blisters.

If you’ve bought new shoes to match your outfit, wear them with thick socks around the house as much as you can before the event.

This will slightly stretch out the fabric and test the comfort levels of the heels.

Going OTT with Makeup and Tan Disasters

When working out a daytime makeup look, consider the difference between a day function and an evening function.

At the races, you spend the majority of the day in bright sunlight, outside.

This means that your makeup will have to work a little harder than normal to stay exactly in place.

Tone down your base layers and foundation to avoid looking harsh.

Instead, switch a smoky black eye for softer, shimmering hues, leaving your daytime look appearing fresher.

Finish with a makeup holding spray for a flawless all-day face.

Pale skin always beats streaky false tan when it comes to the races.

Either opt for a professional tan or ensure you really know what you’re doing if you decide to give yourself a tan at home.

How to Accessorize for The Races

Woman wearing a blue headpiece at a day at the races

Accessories for the races are often just as important as the dress or outfit itself.

Sometimes, even more so.

When it comes to finishing your outfit, headwear is often an important aspect of the dress code.

So ensure you consider the type of headwear you’d like to pair with your outfit in advance, giving you plenty of time to find the right piece.

The Headwear

It’s all about the headwear at the races.

However, headwear can take an outfit from stylish to terrible if done wrong.

So, make sure you pay close attention to how you match up your choices.

From full, wide-brim hats to fascinators or detailed headbands, a day at the races is a great chance to wear something bold and statement, adding a glamorous twist to your look.

Best ensembles tend to share the same color palette without matching exactly or opting for a hat completely different to your outfit color, but beautifully complementing it.

The Shoes

It’s important to choose heels you can last in when you have an all-day event like the races.

For spring and summer choose classic open toe sandals or peep-toes and for winter, it’s best to keep your toes warm in covered-toe pointed heels.

Give your shoes a good trial before you select them for an all-day occasion and invest in cushion inserts for the balls of your feet if you’re one to struggle with foot ache from heels.


When dressing for a day at the horse racing, elegant style should always be at the forefront of your mind when outfit shopping.

From the dress to the accessories, every piece of the look is just as important as the next, creating a glamorous look that really shows off your style.

Remember to have fun and choose an outfit that will make you feel confident and stylish all day long.