December 7, 2022
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Hot! How to Dress for a Visit to the Races

Source: Keeneland Racing via Twitter

You can’t beat a day at the races! The sport presents plenty of opportunities to get dressed up and shine trackside. You always want to look your best and stand-out from the crowd, but it’s also important to adhere to the dress codes, and these offer every racegoer the chance to add some glamour to proceedings. 

Keeneland is one of the more traditional racetracks and is extremely popular, particularly at a weekend. The Kentucky-based course stages midweek meetings throughout the summer and, although anything goes at this charming venue, dressing appropriately is key. Tasteful sundresses are generally seen as the way forward, particularly if the weather permits. Sun hats are strongly advised and flats are also highly recommended. Braver racegoers may opt for wedges but a couple of hours spent traipsing around the course, and the possibility of spending long periods stood on grass, has the potential to prove troublesome, so leave the stilettos at home. Those who are afforded the opportunity to visit the clubhouse will be asked to sport formal attire, with all entrants required to wear dresses, a tailored pantsuit or dress slacks. For gentlemen, a dress shirt with a collar and tie is a must.

Most tracks have few restrictions, however Saratoga, who race between July and September, stipulate that denim will not be permitted and ladies are encouraged to wear summer hats and dresses, which is a long-standing tradition of the racecourse. These elements help add a touch of elegance to a long summer afternoon spent watching the action unfold and enjoying the hospitality trackside.

On occasions, the dress code will be altered to befit a special event, with one high-profile example being Kentucky Oaks day, where all attendees are asked to incorporate the colour pink into their chosen outfit. This is to help raise funds for ovarian and breast cancer charities. A survivors parade takes place prior to the commencement of the days racing and over the past eight years almost $100,000 has been raised.

In comparison to the UK, some tracks are fairly casual with their approach to racecourse attire. Royal Ascot, which takes place in June is particularly strict and stipulates that hats or fascinators must be worn at all times. The Berkshire track has also banned strapless dresses and states that midriffs must be covered. Trouser suits must be full length and understandably, shorts are not permitted. The Cheltenham Festival is one of the most anticipated events on the sporting calendar and showcases many top National Hunt stars including Altior, who remains unbeaten and is the 3/4 in Betfair’s Cheltenham 2018 odds. Although fashion plays second fiddle to the racing in Gloucestershire, it is still vitally importantly to dress appropriately across the four days. It is held in March and unpredictable weather is a staple of this meeting. A light dress, warm coat and even a woolley hat are amongst the suggested items to ensure comfort and happiness throughout.

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